Tourism is reported as both a victim of, and contributor to, climate change. Climate change is expected to have a variety of impacts on tourism destinations in Australia and elsewhere. Depending on the nature and scope of the impacts, tourism in some destinations could be significantly changed. While some climate impacts are unavoidable, even under the best mitigation scenarios, the damage inflicted by these impacts depends in part on how well the tourism industry and natural systems can adapt. Read more
Tourism is reported as both a victim of, and contributor to, climate change.
Climate change is expected to have a variety of impacts on tourism destinations in Australia and elsewhere. Depending on the nature and scope of the impacts, tourism in some destinations could be significantly changed. While some climate impacts are unavoidable, even under the best mitigation scenarios, the damage inflicted by these impacts depends in part on how well the tourism industry and natural systems can adapt.
Tourism is also increasingly being identified globally and locally as an energy (and emissions) intensive activity. These can be identified for many contributing sectors – but it is transport (both air and surface) that stands out in this regard. Findings such as these emerge from measurement of tourism’s carbon footprint. For future tourism planning and development they also bring into sharp focus the trade offs between tourism’s energy intensity and its role in regional economic through tourism dispersal.
Climate change management actions are often described in terms of adaptation and mitigation.
Adaptation to climate change consists of initiatives and measures to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems against actual or expected climate change effects. Climate change adaptations are those strategies that can be implemented to build resilience and resistance in systems, whether they be environmental, social, economic or business systems.
Mitigation of climate change involves taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to enhance sinks aimed at reducing the extent of global warming. Energy and other resource efficiencies, along with long-term changing patterns of tourist behaviour fit within this category. While linked mitigation is distinct from adaptation to climate change which involves taking action to minimise the effects of climate change.
Adaptation is seen as a more immediate, necessary short term action, while mitigation mechanisms involve the development and deployment of new technologies, fuels and the like. Both are clearly linked – and may act for or against each other. For example, increased use of air conditioning may be an adaptation, but their use of energy (arising from fossil fuels) will act against mitigation.
Adaptation strategies can be effective at varying time scales, from the immediate to medium-to-long-term planning horizons. Furthermore, adaptation strategies are not necessarily costly to businesses, communities, the environment or people and may in fact yield substantial economic and non-economic benefits.
In contrast, mitigation activities will not always yield immediate climate or business/community results, by virtue of the long turnaround time in the climate system.
Research into the relationships between tourism and climate change is very much in its infancy. The critical research issue for Australian tourism is how the industry will be affected, how it can adapt and respond within current social institutions, and how these responses will shape the physical, social and economic structures that support tourism. STCRC has initiated research into climate change adaptation in a number of key areas
But much more to remains to be done to integrate tourism activities and requirements into local community and destination planning.