Seasonality in Tourism: Understanding the Challenges

26 November 2021

Seasonality has always been one of the most critical issues in determining the demand variation for every touristic destination. It affects all areas of the tourism industry, from marketing (packaging, distribution and pricing), to the labour market (employment, skills, sustainability) as well as business finances (suppliers and intermediaries), environmental (ecological carrying capacity of a particular destination by overcrowding and overuse during the peak period) and all relevant aspects of operations.

It is often defined as the tendency of tourist flows to become concentrated into relatively short periods of the year, which are then classified as business cycles of off-season, low-season, shoulder season and peak season, or low, medium and high season. A few areas, mostly tropical, are characterized as non-seasonal because of the small irregularities of the climatic conditions.

Climatic conditions such as temperature, rain-and snowfall, daylight etc are referred to as “natural seasonality” and depend on the placement of the touristic destination on the earth and its distance from the equator, as well as climatic conditions in specific periods of the year such as monsoons and extreme temperatures (too cold, or too hot). Global warming will in this case have an effect on the natural tourism seasonality, as climate changes will happen in most areas.

On the other hand, other periods that are considered to count to seasonality are the “institutional”, human defined periods in the year, such as religious, cultural, ethnic and social defined, industrial holidays, pilgrimages and holidays. In this sense, the ageing of the population will bring changes on institutional tourism seasonality because the older population is less constricted in the timing of their holidays.

These unevenness or fluctuation of people visiting specific areas cause very big changes of demand or supply and bring difficulties in sustainable and stable operations of the tourism sector in the destinations with an effect of having often inefficient services and products. The tourism industry tries globally to create strategies of all-season destinations.

Although seasonality is one of the most prominent features of tourism, it is the least understood. In order to tackle tourism seasonality, it is important to realize where it is generated and little research has been done on whether for example the desire to travel at certain times of the year or the restrictions are more important.

Research shows that different areas are being affected differently from seasonality and is being suggested that seasonality problems should be tackled locally taking into consideration the needs and opportunities of each area to be more effective. One of the strategies to balance seasonality is to extend the season at the destination, by altering for example the prices, or offering different attractions before and after the peak season.

Seasonality is to be understood more from the tourism sector and tourism entrepreneurs may have to consider the adoption of adjustment and mitigation policies toward seasonality for it to become a valuable asset for their business.

Picture: Marie Von der Broeck from Noun Project

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication (website) reflects the views only of the author and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Project: 2020-1-FR01-KA202-079845