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Climate change and its effects on tourism in coastal areas Report

Research issue and justification

The issue to be examined is climate change and its effects on tourism in coastal areas. Tourism in most coastal areas encompasses a series of activities. Some may involve accommodation, others may entail water sports while others may involve visitation of sites in coastal areas.

All these aspects of the visitors experience can be tremendously affected by climatic changes. Ability to offer hospitality services can be hampered if buildings and other infrastructure have been ruined by a climate related disaster.

Alternatively, the physical features that form part of a coastal tourist destination can be ruined by climatic changes. For example, coral reefs, beaches and other features may be tarnished. Also, certain goods or services offered to tourists in coastal areas are dependent on the ecosystem.

It is for this reason why the issue of climatic change needs to be studied and understood thoroughly; the report will attempt to do this through holistically and through case based approaches.

The reason why the topic was selected was that climate change has been known to create adverse effects in various sectors of the economy (Karen et. al, 2009). It is therefore critical to understand why this issue would be relevant to the tourism sector. Furthermore, coastal areas have been known to bear the heaviest toll of climate change.

In fact, most climatic changes usually start in these regions and eventually spread to the rest of the country. This means that stakeholders in coastal areas are also likely to face severe losses if climatic change occurs. Coastal areas are also known for their tourist attractions as most of them depend heavily on this industry for revenue.

The research will crucial in identifying a problem that has and will continue to exert negative effects on the tourism sector. It will provide solutions on how climate change in coastal areas can be tackled so as to minimise its effect on the industry.

This research will therefore contribute towards greater economic maximisation from the tourism sector. Since tourism has been known to fight poverty in a series of countries then these findings will definitely boost the income potential of these areas and eventually increase the economic output.

Statement of research method

The research will depend on the use of secondary sources for analysis. These will include Government statistical reports on climate based changes done in coastal areas, periodicals that cover the issue of climate change with regard to tourism and/ or hospitality management, academic reports done in various parts of the world concerning the topic, professional bodies’ reports (especially international ones) that have carried out studies concerning tourism in coastal regions and industry specific magazines that discuss the subject matter and offer possible solutions towards it.

Lastly, the research will also use a number of electronic sources which have been authored by credible writers concerning the issue.

The major limitation of this method of research is that the inefficiencies in research found in the primary source will be carried forward into this report. For instance, the author or researcher may have used a small sample in order to come to his or her conclusions and this may be misleading.

Alternatively, it maybe that the data itself was not counterchecked; numerous mistakes can occur during the data collection process so one can never be sure about the material. In order to overcome this limitation, only reports that have high degrees of reliability and validity will be used in the findings section.

On the other hand the nature of the research examined will also play a major part in determining its usage. It is likely that a vast amount of research carried out in that area will not be directly related to the research topic. For instance, a research paper may be focusing on the effect of climate change on coastal areas without necessarily focusing on tourism.

The industry may be mentioned as a sub section such that the data employed in that analysis may not be so useful to this research. Also, this method is restricting especially in terms of accessibility because certain reports are rarely available to the public.

An abstract or introduction section may be offered online but if one needs to gain access to the whole report, then one may have to part with a lot of money in order to do so. This would mean that one would have to collect a series of abstracts in order to find out if there is a recurring pattern.

Relying on a few of these would be insufficient. Lastly, the research method chosen will rely on information that is already in the public domain. It may be difficult to find something exclusive such that the report can boast of greater propriety or greater information advantage than other reports in the market.

Major findings

Literature review of the issue (academic and government sources)

The WTO found that coastal areas such as the Mediterranean coast, i.e. areas like Cyprus, Sicily and Malta, were responsible for approximately 270 million tourism visitations in the year 2010 (CTO, 2001). This means that these areas are heavily dependent on the tourism subsector as a source of income.

It should be noted that coastal areas are characterised by very delicate ecosystems (IPCC, 2001). Some of the most prominent ones include coral reefs and mangroves. If climatic changes were to take place then these areas would be tremendously affected.

Some tourists enjoy seeing natural organisms in their habitat; examples include those groups that engage in snorkelling and deep sea diving. Others enjoy the vast amount of sea food found in those locations such as crabs and prawns. Others may engage in boating around those coastal areas and these activities all tend to benefit local communities.

When tourists visit such areas, most will look for souvenirs or other similar artefacts’ which will remind them of that coastal area. Furthermore, they will need some form of accommodation which will often be provided by the local community.

In this regard, tourism at the coastal areas contributes towards employment amongst locals who may not have any other means of earning a living. Furthermore, such areas can be rich in foreign exchange earnings since most tourists will spend a lot when they visit those areas (Agnew & Viner, 1999).

This would also translate into great income streams for governments such duties and taxes are charged on services offered, alcohol bought or any other items purchased.

Many studies have looked at how tourism can cause global warming but few have focused on how the reverse is true; that global warming and climate change can also affect the tourism industry.

Since tourism involves all the above mentioned activities then one must look at how these activities lead to either an increase or decrease in profitability within the tourist industry.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation carried out a research on climate change and found that global warming will contribute and has contributed towards extreme weather events (Mc carthy et. al, 2003).

Increases in temperature have brought about adverse effects on coastal areas which continue to report greater intensity of wind cyclones. Their estimates indicated that wind speeds have increased by approximately five to ten percent.

Additionally, they found that stronger tides would be reported in the coast with cycle rainfall also increasing. In the future, it is likely that climate change would lead to a greater rise in sea levels (Beer, et. al., 2003). The effect of these changes in the climate will most likely be shown through greater flooding.

This would ruin some of the infrastructure that had been built for tourist purposes such as resorts, gift shops, roads, bridges and airports.

Those natural disasters would also hamper the ability of tourists to travel from one area to another in the coastal destination because transportation systems or electricity systems can be damaged by floods or cyclones on any area.

These winds would also cause severe beach erosion yet most tourists target coastal areas for their warm sandy beaches. That would mean a loss of potential revenue streams from these areas.

Furthermore, the floods would affect the settlements and local communities in the coastal towns thus causing vast migration by some of them to main lands. There would be a service gap for tourists who need locals to service their needs. Low lying areas are especially vulnerable to this kind of flooding. It is also likely that

As stated earlier, several tourists visit the coast in order to enjoy the biodiversity of the region, climate change causes these areas to lose out on certain plant and animal species such as the barrier reef and certain butterfly species. Coastal areas would therefore lose out on these kinds of tourists (Baumert et. al., 2003).

Several tourist infrastructures can be found in coastal areas. For instance, some people have built resorts; others have created airports, golf courses and even marinas in order to cater to the high number of visitors that come there.

Sometimes, these areas can be adversely affected by severe weather conditions thus implying that there would be minimal ways for catering to the needs of tourists as they visit those coastal areas. Countries can therefore lose a lot owing to these effects of climatic change on those destinations.

Comparative analysis of the issue internationally (2 countries)

The case of the Caribbean

The Caribbean coastal region comprises of a series of countries including Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas and Barbados. Most of these coastal areas have been prone to a series of natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions, landslides, hurricanes and even floods.

Studies carried out by MET (2008) indicate that social economic and policies on proper land use has increased the region’s proneness to these disasters.

Some individuals have deduced that these activities have contributed to climate change hence those disasters. However, others oppose it; despite this lack of consensus, there is still no doubt that climate change and their occurrence are interlinked.

In 1989, a hurricane took place in Puerto Rico, St. Martin and Barbuda’s coastal regions. The major challenge was that these areas were highly dependent on yachting as a tourist attraction (Jackson, 2001). Estimates have indicated that the area lost close to 200, 000 dollars per yacht owing to the loss in revenue from the disaster.

The damages were so severe that they led to unexpected losses amongst the groups concerned. Also, those very regions kept experiencing more hurricanes that have caused fear in potential tourists who may have been interested in visiting the town. It is also likely that these hurricanes may keep occurring in the near future.

In St. Kitts coastal town Port Zante, Hurricane Georges took place and it severely hampered the tourist activities of that area. The town was mostly identified for its cruise ship tourism. In fact the hurricane caused severe damage to the cruise ship pier which implied that several passengers could not utilise the cruise ship.

Many large vessels could no longer be accommodated there and the region suffered tremendously from this issue. These occurrences indicate that with continual temperature rise, such incidences are likely to occur in the future and would continue to exert a heavy toll on stakeholders in the tourism sector in those areas( Nurse, 2001).

In Barbados during the year 1978, there were tremendous increases in the amount of El Niño water; consequently, a lot of coral leaching took place. These waters were associated with the rising ocean temperatures going on around the world which were attributed to climatic changes.

Although Barbados recovered from the effects, it has still been ascertained that its coastal regions will be vulnerable to such kinds of disasters. The Coastal Zone management Unit which is in charge of coral reef monitoring found that climate changes were responsible for these occurrences.

They explained that minimisation of certain coral reef species such as Black band and white plaque was brought on by these waters. In these circumstances, the areas reported a decrease in earnings from tourists who do scuba diving as well as snorkelling (lisa, 2001).

It has also been shown that a series of tourist resorts and hotels in these areas have been built dangerously. Since climate change is causing these areas to be increasingly vulnerable to heightened tidal waves and flooding then chances are some 6, 100 hotel rooms found in Barbados coastal region will be affected since they are about twenty metres above sea level.

In the event of a hurricane as it occurred in the past, those resorts would be greatly damaged thus affecting the tourism sector negatively.

Smith Water international carried out a survey on Jamaica especially coastal areas of Montego bay and found that they would be affected by storms since they are merely one or two metres away from the permitted watermark designated by international institutions.

Case of Namibia

Namibia has been affected by climatic changes as seen through coastal erosion and disappearance of plant and animal species in the coastal zones. This country reported an increase in sea level. Consequently, areas such as Heties Bay and Swakopmund started experiencing erosion.

Those regions recorded reduced income revenues and therefore felt that it would have been imperative for them to have prevented the problem rather than wait for it to get out of hand (Walvis bay, 2010).

A number of floods also took place in Cuvelai Etosha basin which is a coastal region in the north central part of Namibia. These floods were responsible for a substantial amount of damage to the infrastructure in this coastal town thus minimising the tourism activities that went on in this area.

The floods that took place in 2009 led to a minimisation of economic flow in that territory (Recovery platform, 2010).

Challenges presented to the industry by climate change in coastal areas and how it will be addressed

In summary, the challenges presented to the tourism industry can be categorised as direct and direct. Direct effects were those ones that affected all the structures and services that have been built specifically for tourists in coastal areas or those natural features which specifically attract tourists to these towns.

Some of these effects of climate change in coastal regions include reduced yachting revenues, cruise ship revenues, less deep sea diving revenues and snorkelling. Climate change has also led to damaged resorts, hotels and other tourist facilities in those areas.

Some of the ways in which these problems in coastal areas can be addressed include sensitisation of the public concerning the effects of climate change (Hare, 2003). Owners of resorts and hotels need to make their staff understand the potential ramifications of a natural disaster that would have been brought on by climatic changes.

These stakeholders need to know that there is a direct link between tourism and climate change. Secondly, coastal regions along with their countries need to minimise green house emissions as these are the number one cause of global warming. Also, those respective regions can practice shoreline management.

This should entail beach improvement as well protection of coastal areas’ shorelines. Since property owners and investors are the ones that will be affected then they need to be involved in the financing process. However, their efforts need to be backed by governments.

Countries such as Barbados take their coastal management programs seriously. Over the past four decades, the country has spent approximately sixteen point six million US dollars on planning and improving their beaches. Other countries that utilise their coastal areas for tourism should do the same in order to facilitate improvements.

Also, governments need to step in and distinguish between private and public shore lands. This will assist them to prevent erosion through the construction of sediment trappings as wells as groynes for the prevention of beach shorelines. Countries that do not have legislation to control land ownership in these coastal zones need to do so as soon as possible.

Since some of these disasters will be inevitable then concerned parties need to start planning for their occurrence. Once coastal areas have suffered the effects of hurricanes, floods or cyclones then that should be an indicator that climate change is likely to increase their occurrence.

These coastal zones should do shelter planning for yachts. They also need to ascertain that they have back up for sheltering their boats such that they can be evacuated to safer areas away from storms (GSDRC, 2009).

Governments in areas that have immense coastal tourism need to come up with policy frameworks that cover the protection of coastal zones. They need to ensure that tourism is practised sustainably so they should cover all these aspects in the policy statement. Issues such as emergency planning as well as coastal development zones need to be considered.

Conclusion and recommendation

There is link between tourism and climate change in coastal towns going by the occurrences in the Caribbean coastal areas as well as coastal areas in Namibia. These changes led to floods, hurricanes, storms, cyclones, beach erosion, infrastructural damages, destruction of plant species in coastal areas and rising tidal waves.

All these effects hampered tourism by eliminating or eroding physical features that attract tourist to coastal towns or by indirectly affecting the locals and systems that service most tourists as they stay in the coastal areas.

It is hereby recommended that governments have a huge role to play in mitigating the negative effects of climate change on coastal towns. They can enact policies, protect beach property ownership, finance protection policies, sensitize the public and carry out emergency planning.

On the other hand, people within the private sector can also play their part by engaging in sustainable tourist practices such that they can minimise their impact on the environment.


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