Some of the most vulnerable areas across the world have started experiencing the consequences of climate change, with action to deal with it long overdue. Florida, one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, holds one of the most 'unenviable' positions in terms of its vulnerability to climate change with the effects already visible, particularly on its coastal areas. Climate is one of the major factors in affecting travel motivations and destination choice, and as such the implications of climate change for tourist behavior and demand patterns are significant. Beside the physical impacts of climate change, society's perception of climate change, and the response to it at various decision-making levels, have become critical issues. This dissertation presents the perspective of tourists who have previously visited Florida, in a hypothetical scenario of changed climatic conditions. It is proposed that existing social representations about climate change, and therefore individuals' attitudes, views and beliefs concerning this phenomenon, need to be taken into account when examining tourists' stated intentions regarding their prospective visitation intentions and potential changes in future tourism demand. Using social representation theory as a theory of reference, this dissertation presents an analysis of visitors' responses to climate change impacts and adaptation measures, in consideration of their attitudes towards climate change. The main purpose of the study was to understand whether, with the implementation of adaptation strategies directed to limit negative impacts of climate change, the likelihood of tourists to return to Florida would improve in comparison with a future in which no action is taken at the state level to address climate change. In this scenario, the filter of social representations in shaping tourists' perspectives was used as a system of explanation of different tourist responses. This study contributes to the tourism and climate change body of knowledge by advancing a further step toward understanding potential responses of tourists in a scenario in which a destination's most appealing climatic and natural resources are impacted by climate change. The existence of a relationship between tourist's visitation intentions and the social representations they hold with respect to climate change offers a different way to look at tourists' stated responses. In fact, this study shows that predicting shifts in tourism demand based on stated visitation intentions requires caution. The findings of this study can encourage future researchers to pursue a more critical way of exploring the meaning behind tourists' stated responses, which could lead to expanding our current understanding of how climate change will transform tourism demand across different destinations.

Graduation Date





Fyall, Alan


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Degree Program

Hospitality Management









Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Rosen College of Hospitality Management