عنوان مقاله [English]
Tourism has become one of the largest global economic sectors in the world and contributes significantly to national and local economies. Climate has a significant influence on tourism decision-making process. It is a key factor considered by the tourists either explicitly for the purpose of travel planning or as a primary motivator. The first attempt to develop a numerical index to evaluate climate for tourism purposes was by Mieczkowski (1985) who designed the ‘Tourism Climate Index’ (TCI). The purpose of the TCI was to present a quantitative composite measure to evaluate the world’s climate for general tourism activities by integrating all climatic variables relevant to tourism into a single index.
The TCI has been widely applied to assess the future climate suitability of destinations. Despite the TCI’s wide application, it has been subject to substantial critiques. The four key deficiencies of the TCI are (1) the subjective rating and weighting system of climatic variables; (2) it neglects the possibility of an overriding influence of physical climatic parameters; (3) the low temporal resolution of climate data, i.e., monthly data, has limited relevance for tourist decision-making; and (4) it disregards the varying climatic requirements of major tourism segments and destination types. To overcome the above noted limitations of the TCI, a Holiday Climate Index (HCI) was developed to more accurately assess the climatic suitability of destinations for tourism. The main purpose of this study is to evaluate and compare tourism climatic condition in Urmia using holiday Climate Index (HCI) and tourism climate index (TCI).
Materials and methods
In this study, two tourism climate indices of the Tourism Climate Index (1985) and newly designed Holiday Climate Index have been applied. Daily data of air temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, cloud cover, sunshine and wind speed have been obtained to calculate both indices. The TCI was designed by Mieczkowski (1985) as a method to evaluate climate suitability for general tourism activities. The TCI assesses a climate suitability of location for tourism by grouping seven climatic variables into five sub-indices. In this study, daily climatic data have also been used as the TCI’s input for the purpose of comparing the rating differences between the two tourism climate indices. The index score calculated by the TCI formula is then adapted to the classification scheme designed by Mieczkowski (1985) to describe a climate suitability of location for tourism. A new tourism climate index, the Holiday Climate Index (HCI), was designed with the purpose of overcoming all identified deficiencies and limitations of the TCI. The HCI uses five climatic variables related to the three facets essential to tourism: thermal comfort (TC), aesthetic (A), and physical (P) facet. A major advancement of the HCI is that its variable rating scales and the weighting component system were designed based on the available literature on visitor’s climatic preferences that have been obtained from a range of surveys from the last 10 years.
Results and discussion
Current climatic conditions (1981-2010) of Urmia have been rated using both TCI and HCI. This station has a summer peak climate distribution when rated by the TCI. This means that summer months have the most suitable climate for urban tourism. Similar to the TCI ratings, Urmia has a summer peak climate distribution when rated by the HCI. By comparing the HCI and TCI monthly, what can be seen in the rating differences between the two indices is more prominent in winter months. The comparison has also indicated that the HCI rates the climate for tourism higher than TCI. Then, rating differences between the two indices have been compared in thermal, aesthetic and physical facet. When the HCI is compared with the TCI in assessing climatic conditions of Urmia, rating differences are observed from temporal aspects. The HCI ratings are generally higher than the TCI ratings in most months of the year. Seasonally, a major disagreement between the two indices exists in the rating of winter climate conditions, as winter has the widest gap in ratings between the TCI and HCI. When temperatures become warmer, the gap between the two indices becomes narrower.
In assessing a climatic suitability of a destination for tourism, the TCI has a dominant place literature. An ideal tourism climate index is able to integrate the effects of all facets of climate, simple to calculate, easy to use and understand, recognize overriding effects of certain weather conditions and most importantly, based on actual tourist preferences. This paper intended to fill this gap by introducing a new tourism climate index, the Holiday Climate Index (HCI). By comparing the rating differences between the two indices under specified weather conditions and comparing the ratings against visitation data, a reasonable conclusion could be drawn regarding to whether the HCI is a better index than the TCI in rating the climate suitability for tourism and whether existing studies using the TCI to assess tourism climate resources should be reassessed.