Tourism is a major global economic sector that is undergoing tremendous growth in emerging economies and is often touted as salient for development and poverty alleviation in developing countries. Tourism is recognized as a highly climate-sensitive sector, one that is also strongly influenced by environmental and socioeconomic change influenced by climate change, and is also a growing contributor to anthropogenic climate change. This article outlines the complex interrelationships between climate change and the multiple components of the international tourism system. Five focal themes that have developed within the literature on the consequences of climate change for tourism are then critically reviewed: climatic change and temporal and geographic shifts in tourism demand, climate-induced environmental change and destination competitiveness within three major market segments (winter sports tourism, coastal tourism, and nature-based tourism), and mitigation policy developments and future tourist mobility. The review highlights the differential vulnerability of tourism destinations and that the resultant changes in competitiveness and sustainability will transform some international tourism markets. Feedbacks throughout the tourism system mean that all destinations will need to adapt to the risks and opportunities posed by climate change and climate policy. While notable progress has been made in the last decade, a number of important knowledge gaps in each of the major impact areas, key regional knowledge gaps, and both tourist and tourism operator perceptions of climate change risks and adaptive capacity indicate that the tourism sector is not currently well prepared for the challenges of climate change. WIREs Clim Change 2012. doi: 10.1002/wcc.165
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