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Is this the end of the Spanish summer break? Heatwaves are pushing travellers to new destinations

Norway fjords are proving a popular alternative summer holiday destination following heatwaves in southern Europe
Norway fjords are proving a popular alternative summer holiday destination following heatwaves in southern Europe Copyright Unsplash 2023
Copyright Unsplash 2023
By Ally Wybrew
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Heatwaves in southern Europe are causing travellers to seek out cooler destinations this summer.


While the likes of Spain, Italy and the Greek islands historically draw in holidaymakers during the summer months, record-breaking temperatures have been putting travellers off. Some top destinations have hit temperatures as high as 48 degrees Celsius.

Rebecca Masri, founder of private members’ club and hotel booking app Little Emperors, shared how she’s seen an increase in bookings for alternative destinations.

“We’ve started to see a really large increase in demand for destinations like Norway and Copenhagen, which wouldn’t normally be destinations we would book for summer,” Masri said at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas this week.

“I think with Europe being so hot, people are looking for cooler destinations and it’s given a really big opportunity to the Nordics to come forward as a summer destination.”

Thanassis Stavrakis/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
A woman uses an umbrella to protect herself from the sun at a beach in Loutraki, about 82 kilometres (51 miles) west of Athens, Greece.Thanassis Stavrakis/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Traditional summer holiday locations are just too hot

Masri goes on to explain that, popular destinations such as Sardinia and Greece have seen less interest than usual because of their soaring temperatures.

“With our clients being younger, generally their kids are much younger, and people don’t want to travel with a young baby to a destination that’s 48 degrees. It’s just not pleasant, and with cancellation policies, they can’t come out of those bookings.”

As a result, many travellers are booking destinations with cooler temperatures, resulting in a surge of interest in the Nordic countries.

“Norway, Copenhagen and the fjords have taken a big chunk of our summer bookings which has been really interesting for us,” Masri explains.

“We’ve never really booked those destinations over the summer period – so yes we’ve definitely acknowledged a change due to the changing climate that we’re experiencing.” .

The Little Emperors founder also went on to say that destinations traditionally associated with winter escapes – such as the Alps – are also seeing a rise in interest during the summer period.

“There’s no snow anymore during Christmas so we’re booking more and more summer in Courchevel and Gstaad. These destinations are coming up in our bookings over the summer instead of [during the festive season].”

Unsplash/LePei Visual 2023
Copenhagen's pretty canals and streets are drawing more tourists in the summerUnsplash/LePei Visual 2023

Cooler summer holidays are a global attraction

Also speaking at the Virtuoso Travel Week was Jamsheed Pocha, co-founder of The Pelican, a Canadian members’ club specialising in luxury travel.

He confirmed that many North Americans have also been booking unseasonal European destinations such as Switzerland, Austria and Germany, which “traditionally haven’t been as popular as Italy, France and Greece in the summer months.”

Pocha says the draw of such destinations includes their amazing spa offerings and beautiful natural landscapes which travellers can enjoy in the summer, not just the winter.

How will heat waves affect holiday bookings in the future?

This year’s extreme weather will likely affect how holidaymakers choose to travel to Europe in the future., managing director of Australian agency Mosman Travel, Sharyn Kitchener said. “I think moving forward, people will think about this year’s weather and maybe think differently on where they’re going to go or what time of year they are going to travel to Europe.”

And it’s a widely held view that extreme heat will change how people travel. . Paul Tumpowsky, founder and chief executive of New York-based travel agency Skylark, shared that many hotels in southern Italy currently have low availability for September and October.

“I think there’s a lot of potential for people moving that summer [holiday] towards even halfway through October, and several hotels that [normally] close in early October are now closing in mid or late autumn,” he confirmed.

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