KUNTIKUM - Climate Trends and Sustainable Development of Tourism in Coastal and Low Mountain Range Regions

Background and Goals

Since tourism is a very weather-sensitive sector, this project intends to figure out which adaption strategy to climate change might be the best, dealing with setbacks and creating new potentials for success. According to climate projections conditions for winter sports will get worse in the model region of High Black Forest. The model region North Sea coast is facing a rising sea level among others. Furthermore, an increase in extreme weather events is expected for the whole of Germany. Previous studies on tourism and climate change suggest that climate change impacts have not been integrated comprehensively into management processes of the tourism sector.

The two model regions – North Sea and the High Black Forest – had been selected against this background and the following objectives been formulated:

  • Analysis of trends in climate change and tourism in the model regions;
  • Development of strategies for new products and infrastructures in the model regions;
  • Development of skills for climate-related decision-making in the model regions;
  • Synthesis of the results for an integrated concept.

This led to the following structure, divided into four project phases:

  • Analyzing: During the first phase the status quo and the expected trends in tourism and climate change are analyzed. Scientific and practical project partners appoint parameters which are relevant for decision making and investigate the existing conception of the tourism industry and its policy.
  • Assessment: During the second phase, the data gathered by the researchers will be evaluated in cooperation with practitioners from the tourism industry and political decision makers. The future prospects will be examined with regard to the respective regional context, and the relevance for the process of sustainable development will be discussed.
  • Design: The third phase aims to design new products and infrastructure for sustainable tourism in each region. In order to be creative and lucrative, social and ecological aspects may not be neglected in any regional adaptation process to the changing climate conditions.
  • Evaluation: During the final phase the possibilities and difficulties of the application of our research results will be examined and the whole process of transdisciplinary cooperation will be evaluated.


There is a need to adapt tourism to the changing climate conditions in the two model regions of Germany. The main goal of KUNTIKUM is to foster innovation and learning abilities in the tourism industry in both model regions with the objective that new products and infrastructure innovations can emerge in the context of sustainable development. To make the outcomes of this project available to other tourist regions in Germany, a roadmap for the advancement of expertise in the field of tourism and climate change will be developed at the end of the project.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Lower Saxony
Natural spatial classification
  • Alp and North Bavarian hills
  • North-West German lowland

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

Simulations are based on regional climate models and empirical downscaling. Furthermore thermal and human biometeorological parameters (e.g. physiologically equivalent temperature), physical (e.g. precipitation and wind) and aesthetic (sunshine and cloudiness) parameters have been analyzed in high spatial and temporal resolution.

Parameter (climate signals)
  • Sea level rise und storm surges
Further Parameters 

Shift of snow and ice zones, increase in extreme weather events; also bioclimate, thermal comfort and perception aspects of climate/weather

Further times 

Climate change impacts considered are the deterioration of conditions for winter sports, the challenges for the tourism infrastructure by sea level rise, the negative effects of extreme weather events, as well as favorable factors for tourism resulting from the weather and climate.

The effects of global warming present the tourism sector with major challenges. The climate change has a directly effect on weather conditions and therefore also on the seasonality of tourism business in the travel destinations. It's about more than just rain and sun here are the project considers all climate change related aspects of tourism potential and analyzed. Beside precipitation and sunshine all climate change related aspects of tourist potential will be considered and analyzed in the project. Furthermore, there are several indirect climate change impacts. Thus, changes in the overall appearance of the landscape and the natural environment of the destinations are to be expected in the context of the global warming. The conditions for regional tourism can therefore be substantially altered by climate change and the impact on landscapes and ecosystems will be analyzed as well. Changing conditions at the travel destination, however, cannot be directly linked to changes in tourism demand. More criteria need to be considered. It is particularly important as the destination is perceived and evaluated from the perspective of tourists.

Step 2b: Identify and assess risks - Vulnerability, risks and chances

Approach and results 

Will be analyzed based on expert workshops

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

Background and objectives: development of new products and infrastructure elements that adapt the domestic tourism to climate change trends and extreme weather.

Coastal measures and policies with respect to sea level rise, coastal erosion, extreme weather events and storms are such as:

  • Waiver of the coastal construction of tourism infrastructure, facilities and traffic infrastructure;
  • Constructional improvement of physical infrastructure (e.g. buildings elevated on stilts) and construction of storm-proof tourism infrastructure and facilities (e.g. shutters);
  • Insurance cover of infrastructure damages and other damages;
  • Preventive regional planning to cover the costs of adaptation measures and insurance payments;
  • Implementing risk management;
  • Development of an early warning system;
  • Preparation of evacuation plans and emergency supply and care plans;
  • Changing the price differentiation of high and low season;
  • Adapted tourism attractions by mixture of outdoor and indoor offers (regardless of the weather);
  • Addressing the issue in the tourism offers by, for example, giving bad weather tips and alternative activities;
  • Establishment of organizations that make known the issue of climate change in coastal areas in public.

Measures and strategies for low mountain range areas are such as:

  • Technical solutions:artificial snow (expensive, melts at higher temperatures);
  • Using higher and northern slopes;
  • Broadening of the tourist offer on autumn and spring (e.g. round trips, wellness, cultural trips);
  • Focusing ski tourism on a few suitable winter sports centers;
  • Offering more winter sport activities independent from skiing (e.g., ice skating, sled run, winter hiking trails, curling, cross-country trails, biathlon, trim trails)
  • Changing the image;
  • Flexible price policy on ski passes;
  • Sports facilities (guided hikes, ice-skating, mountain biking, gym, sauna, golf, squash, horse riding, indoor tennis);
  • Cultural activities (movies, slide shows, music events, concerts, art exhibitions);
  • Plastic sheeting against glacier melt (expensive, cannot stop melting);
  • Insurance (does not help against damages in the long term);
  • Snow framing techniques, such as snow fencing (snow transport from snowy regions to those with little snow) and snow-grooming (the minimum snow cover required can be reduced up to 10 to 20 cm); problems: no solution in terms of the lack of snow, negative environmental impact, erosion and negative impact on the all-year-round tourism, affecting the overall appearance of the landscape);


Conceptual development to promote skills in the field of Tourism and Climate Change and transferability to other tourist regions by creating an information and communication platform with a training module.

Time horizon
  • 2071–2100 (far future)
Conflicts / synergies / sustainability 

In terms of implementing sustainable tourism and giving best practice examples sustainable products and infrastructure innovations will be development.


Funding / Financing 

Funding programme “klimazwei – research for climate protection and protection from climate impacts”, Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany

Project management 

Institute of Environmental Communication (INFU), Leuphana University Lüneburg


Meteorological Institute of the University of Freiburg;
In collaboration with representatives of the tourism industry and tourism policy.


Leuphana Universität Lüneburg,
Institut für Umweltkommunikation (INFU)
Scharnhorststr. 1
D-21335 Lüneburg

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Fields of action:
 tourism industry