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Tourism climate indices: uncertainties and reliability issues

Tourism climate indices (TCI) are commonly used to describe the climate conditions suitable for tourism activities from the planning, investment, or daily operations perspectives. A substantial amount of research has been carried out, in particular with respect to new TCI formulae adapted to specific tourism products and parameters and their weighting, taking into account surveys on the stated preferences of tourists, especially in terms of comfort. This paper illustrates another field of research that seeks to better understand the different sources of uncertainty associated with TCIs. Indeed, slight differences in formula thresholds, variations in computation methods, and also the use of multimodel ensembles create nuances that affect the ways in which TCI projections are usually presented. Firstly, we assess the impact of differences in preference surveys on the definition of TCI thresholds, in particular for thermal comfort. Secondly, we compare computation methods for France, showing the need to better specify detailed data sources and their use to ensure the comparability of results. Thirdly, using multimodel ensembles for the Mediterranean basin, we assess the uncertainty inherent in long-term projections, which are used in modelling the economic impact of climate change. This paper argues in favor of a more cautious use of tourism comfort indices, with more consideration given to the robustness of data (validation, debiasing, uncertainty assessment, etc.) and users’ needs, from the climate services perspective.

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