Survey into how prepared Tourism Businesses in the South West are for Climate Change


Emma Whittlesea, South West Tourism on behalf of SWCCIP Tourism Group, (now known as Climate Change South West) with assistance from Paul Haydon and Dr Alan Poots of South West Tourism Research Team.

Project team

  • Professor Tim Coles
  • Dr Claire Dinan
  • Man Cheng (MSc Student)


Business Voucher

About the project


Emma Whittlesea of SWT and Chair of the SWCCIP Tourism Group, approached Prof. Tim Coles of the University of Exeter in order to secure an ESRC sponsored ‘Business Voucher’ to fund a postgraduate student to work on this research project. Hence this piece of research has been conducted by Man Cheng, a student on the Tourism Development and Policy Masters programme and was supervised by Dr Claire Dinan, an Associate Research Fellow, from the University of Exeter Business School. Man was given considerable help and support from the Research Team based at SWT and would like to express his gratitude to Paul Haydon and Dr Alan Poots of SWT, who helped considerably with the online design and analysis of the questionnaire survey.

The aim of the project

The Business Voucher helped facilitate the SWCCIP Tourism sub-group, of which SWT is Chair, to update a piece of research first conducted in 2008. The survey was designed to investigate how prepared tourism businesses in the South West of England were for the effects of Climate Change and what actions they had implemented in their business in order to adapt to changes in the regional climate. 

The 2010 Tourism Business Climate Change Survey was designed to  help inform future priorities for strategy work and resource deployment for the SWCCIP Tourism Group membership. The survey was conducted from 12 Feb to 4 March 2010, as an online questionnaire sent out to the South West Tourism (SWT)’s Tourism Industry Newsletter database and re-promoted by several Destination Management Organisations (DMOs). 240 responses were obtained.

Respondents were mainly fromCornwall(33%),Somerset(19%), Devon (12%) and Poole(19%). The majority of them are from the accommodation sector (71%).

Key findings:

  • 135 respondents (56%) have been affected by extreme weather in the past. Heavy rainfall followed by snow and ice are the two extreme weather events that mostly affected this group.
  • 63% of the respondents think that in the future their businesses will be affected, and the main concern is heavy rainfall.
  • For sources of advice and information on extreme weather and impacts of climate change on their businesses, most turn to the Environmental Agency (29%), while 13% turn to South West Tourism and 5% have referred to SWCCIP.
  • In terms of informing future strategy work, the research found that 59% of respondents think that climate change could lead to extreme weather and that business need to adapt to it.
  • As a business planning priority 50% see it as a medium to high priority.
  • When asked about what actions they had implemented, of the given 13 measures 46% of businesses have implemented some measures, either as normal practice, or in response to extreme weather events. 29% do not intend to do anything.
  • The most popular actions implemented by businesses in response to changing weather conditions include: attention to assessment of flood risk, improvement of business drainage and installation of flood defence measures.


NB. It should be noted that this survey was conducted in February 2010, following a period of extreme winter weather and several months when climate change science had been scrutinised with increased scepticism in the media. Both factors may have influenced some of the findings and perceptions of the respondents.

Implications for Business Support Planning in SW

The fundamental aim of this research project was to help prioritise the SWCCIP Tourism Group’s future business support resource. The research reveals that 69% of respondents are interested in finding out more about the implications of climate change for their own business. 52% want a report showing climate projections for the South West over the next 10 years. 45% need help to source grants. One third would like an adaptation checklist and a free visit from a climate change advisor.

In terms of future resource priority, the research revealed that greater concentration on the effective promotion of existing materials and tools would help support businesses most efficiently at the present time, rather than investment in new initiatives. Ease of access of support materials is essential. If the SWCCIP Tourism Group link were more visible on the environment agency’s website this would help.