Sun, sand and too much sizzle - a Mediterranean melt down could mean tourist trauma, warns WWF. Global warming could mean hard times ahead for the Mediterranean, including its all important tourism industry, according to a report commissioned by WWF. Tourists are set to sizzle in hotter summer temperatures and may well stay in cooler countries as the Med's climate becomes hotter and more variable.

The Mediterranean coastline is the world's most popular tourist destination, attracting 30 percent of the world's tourists and tourism revenue. But the report says that a 2°C rise in global temperatures would mean more frequent heat waves and droughts, more forest fires and problems for freshwater and agriculture. All these factors, directly and indirectly, discourage summer holidays in the Mediterranean.

"If temperatures were to continue to rise by 2°C and higher, this would be bad news for the Mediterranean, said Dr Tina Tin, scientific coordinator of the report. "A 2°C warming scenario would have very negative consequences for the future of the tourism industry in the region - heat waves and forest fires would make families go elsewhere for their summer holidays."

The global conservation organization says that if climate change is not curbed, the region could expect searing temperatures with up to six weeks more of extreme heat days (defined as plus 35°C) per year. The increased number of hotter days would translate into a higher fire risk, with implications for the safety of tourists visiting the region. The southern part of the Mediterranean would be at risk of forest fires practically all year round and nearly everywhere else in the Med the risk of fire would be expected to extend by up to six weeks.

WWF is also worried by the outlook for the agricultural sector, where the higher temperatures and longer droughts could mean less food produced by farms in the region. As temperatures warm up and summer rain diminishes, crops depending on rain would be most severely affected, with yields expected to decline by up to 40 percent.

"To avoid irreparable damage to the economies of the Mediterranean we must act now to slow the increase in global temperature," said Jennifer Morgan, head of WWF's Global Climate Change Programme. "As the world's political leaders meet at the G8 in Scotland next week, they need to come up with clear, targeted and accountable commitments and an action plan to reduce emissions and prevent this dangerous climate change from happening."

WWF calls on heads of states meeting at the G8 summit in Gleneagles to commit to reductions in CO2 and increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy to curb global warming and keep the global average temperature increase below 2°C.