THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN tourism and global warming is a paradoxical one: global warming has become a threat to tourism, yet tourism remains a major cause of global warming. This vicious circle is well known to all stakeholders of the tourism indus try, but implementing meaningful change has proven difficult because of three types of resistance: politico-economic resistance (from policymakers in regions and countries that rely heavily on tourism as a source of income), commercial resistance (from the tourism industry itself), and sociocultural resistance (from tourists who are not ready to change their behavior).
Several factors account for the considerable development of tourism since World War II: growing affluence, longer holidays, cheaper transportation, the availability of preorganized packaged tours, and the development of an industry catering both to mass tourists and to independent travellers. The subsequent increase in demand has resulted in an exponential rise in visitor numbers, both domestically (within countries) and internationally (especially from developed countries to developing countries). Although domestic tourism is statistically much more important (e.g., it accounts for 99 percent of all U.S. tourism and for 85 percent of all Australian tourism), international tourism is easier to measure (through a simple head count at borders); in addition, international tourism corresponds much more to the mainstream imagery of tourism: an island-hopping cruise in the Caribbean, a romantic holiday in Paris, a big game safari in Kenya. According to the World Tourism Organization, the number of international tourists increased from a mere 25 million in 1950 to 800 million in 2005. This number is predicted to double and to reach 1.8 billion by 2020, as more and more people want to travel. They may well know that they contribute to global warming and climate change, and some may feel a pang of guilt and remorse, but their desire to travel is stronger.
Climate is a key resource for tourism: favorable climatic conditions are key attractions for tourists, be it to ski in the mountains, to relax on a beach, or to experience nature. As soon as climatic conditions fluctuate and become less predictable, the tourism demand is affected and tourist flows move elsewhere: tourism, as a geographic phenomenon, is fickle and versatile. The mass media occasionally run stories about tourism hot spots that are victims of climate change and see their tourism appeal decrease; examples abound from all across the world, from less snowfall and shorter skiing seasons in Aspen, Colorado, or in Chamonix in the French Alps, to damage to coral reefs and rising ocean
water in Australasia, not to mention hurricanes that affect island resorts and the cruising industry.
These media stories are not just anecdotes or isolated incidents: they are part of a wider concern already well documented in the tourism literature, both in the academic literature (with seriously researched case studies, a nascent modelization of the relationship between climate change and tourism, and an increasing number of specialists, such as the Canadian Daniel Scott, the Dutch Bas Amelung, and the French JeanPaul Ceron) and in the professional literature (industry publications such as professional bodies' reports and newsletters, as well as travel guides for tourists).
International tourism organizations endeavor to raise awareness, to harness energies, and to articulate realistic plans of action. In 2003, the World Tourism Organization held its first Summit on Climate
Change and Tourism. This resulted in the so-called Djerba Declaration on Tourism and Climate Change, whose signatories encouraged all governments to act to control climate change. The Djerba Declaration also asked the travel industry to adjust its activities to minimize climate change, and it invited consumer associations and the media to further raise public awareness, both at destinations and in generating markets. Taking place in 2007 in Davos, Switzerland, the Second International Conference reviewed and emphasized the key aims and intentions of the Djerba Declaration, strengthening its urgency and exploring concrete ways for tourism to respond to climate change, while still ensuring tourism development as a tool of economic growth and sociocultural well-being. At another level, in 2007 the World Travel and Tourism Council launched an international campaign on the same topic, calling for an open and mature dialogue on issues of tourism, climate change, and the environment; the campaign ran full pages in major publications such as The Daily Telegraph, Newsweek, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as travel trade media around the world.
Tourism professionals are aware of their responsibilities with regard to the environment, but they also know how much tourism contributes to the world economy. In 2007, the tourism industry globally represented 231.2 million jobs, which corresponded to 8.3 percent of total employment; that is, one in every 12 jobs worldwide. By 2017, this figure is expected to rise to 262.6 million jobs. Through their statements and declarations, tourism policymakers at all levels (local, regional, national, and supranational) and from all sectors (public, private, and voluntary) show that they understand the seriousness of the situation with regard to global warming and climate change, but one cannot ignore the fact that tourism is one of the world's largest economic sectors.
Tourism is not just about holidays and recreation, it is a powerful economic force that cannot be obliterated; rather, it has to be managed by implementing ways to maximize its benefits and minimize its costs. Through the concept of sustainable tourism, sustainable development has now become a key agenda in tourism, covering a range of social, cultural, and environmental issues, including references to climate change and global warming, yet solutions and ways forward are difficult to find. Simply controlling the number of international flights and limiting the amount of international tourists may not be a viable alternative at all: such a short-term measure could have devastating effects on many regions and countries whose economies are dependent, if not overreliant, on tourism income; for instance, small island states such as the Maldives, the Netherlands Antilles, and the Seychelles.
In 2007, global tourism generated over $7 trillion, and this number is likely to double within the next decade. The ongoing democratization of tourism means that more and more people can afford to travel and readily do so, even when they are aware of the effect on climate change and global warming; their arguments are usually twofold: first, that their own individual contribution is minimal, and second, that tourism is only one cause of climate change and global warming, among others. Many factors account for the ongoing increase in tourists' numbers: technological developments (epitomized by the superjumbo A380, with its capacity of 850 passengers), market deregulation (leading to more competition, which keeps prices low, especially in the airline industry), and the multiplication of specialized niche markets (such as sports tourism, senior tourism, gay tourism, or industrial tourism, making the demand more fragmented but also easier to target and satisfy). Neither financial penalties (tourism ecotaxes, imposed on airlines or at the destination) nor ethical appeals (campaigns asking would-be tourists to reconsider because of their carbon footprint) are proving effective deterrents for what is increasingly regarded as a right and not a privilege. Even the most vocal critics of tourism like to travel to conferences (business tourism) and go away on holidays (leisure tourism), which weakens the arguments of the antitourism lobby.
Climate change poses several risks to tourism; not only direct risks (climate variability affecting immediate demand as well as tourists' comfort and safety in the short term) but also indirect risks (such as causing damage to ecosystems or reducing water supplies, which may jeopardize tourism in the long term). This is ironic, inasmuch as tourism as a whole is partly responsible: by definition, tourism relies on methods of travel that generate air pollution (greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles that transport tourists, especially aircraft), so by its very existence, tourism heavily contributes to climate change. Rather than attempting a difficult—if not impossible— balancing act, specialists have identified two strategies. The first strategy involves innovation (e.g., with regard to sources and production of energy) and disseminating best practice in terms of sustainable development (e.g., through benchmarks and rewards). This first approach takes tourism in its wider industrial context, applying to tourism some policies and measures from other sectors, such as building and manufacturing.
The second strategy involves analyzing how climate change affects tourism to proactively restructure the tourism industry itself, both in terms of tourism demand and tourism supply; for instance, extremely hot temperatures in summer in seaside destinations may lead to a decrease of the demand in summer but to higher rates in other warm times of the year, such as warmer winter periods. As seasonality has always been a plague of the tourism industry, this climate change may eventually prove beneficial, though it will require adapting and revisiting established patterns. This second approach considers tourism as a specific and idio syncratic system, although some related sectors, such as agriculture, local transport, and the entertainment industry, are likely to be affected too (a phenomenon conceptualized as backward linkages). The two strategies are not mutually exclusive: they can be combined, as they are both underpinned by a mix of idealism and pragmatism (adaptation and mitigation are two concepts used by scholars and policymakers alike).
Because of the intrinsic diversity of the tourism industry (exemplified by differing tourists' needs and expectations, from a backpacking teenager touring Europe to jetsetters staying in exclusive resorts), there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Case studies of destinations ranging from the Fijian archipelago to Banff National Park in Canada show that each region needs to develop its own methodologies and planning scenarios to anticipate changes in tourism demand and distribution, while remembering that it is not only the complex tourism system that is affected by global warming and climate change but also the local communities. Collaboration between partners and agencies is always heralded as a necessary mechanism; a good illustration is the official cooperation between the World Tourism Organization and the World Meteorological Organization: in 2006, an Expert Team on Climate and Tourism was jointly set up by both agencies. Such meetings of experts can result in sharing intelligence to help with research projects, as there is a wide recognition that decisions need be evidence based. The tourism industry is aware of the problems posed by global warming and climate changes, and it wants to be part of the solution.
sEE ALso: Economics, Cost of Affecting Climate Change; Transportation.
bibliography: Stefan Gossling and Michael C. Hall, eds.,
Tourism and Global Environmental Change (Routledge, 2005); Michael C. Hall and James Higham, eds., Tourism, Recreation and Climate Change (Channel View Publications, 2005); Journal of Sustainable Tourism special issue on climate change, 2006; Andreas Matzarakis and Chris de Freitas, eds., Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Climate, Tourism and Recreation (Porto Carras, 2001); Daniel Scott, et al., eds., Climate, Tourism and Recreation: A Bibliography (University of Waterloo, 2006).
Loykie L. Lomine University of Winchester
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