Eco Tourism reloaded

Melting snow, widespread floods, water shortage, huge tsunamis, but also dirty beaches, polluted lakes and foul-smelling cities are only some of the threads to the world’s top holiday destinations. Tourism is one of the world’s biggest business sections, and one of the fastest growing. It contributes, mainly through air and road travel, to an increase in CO² emissions while yet its hugely depended on nature in the way we know it, and that’s threatened by climate change. Therefore climate change is one of the biggest challenges faced by the industry, and now it appears they are set to tackle the issue in order to survive.

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Ecotourism Kenya has hosted a three day conference in Nairobi, themed ‘Tourism Business in a Changing Climate‘, where industry players had the opportunity to discuss innovative ways and measures to respond to such concerns. “We cannot continue how we use to, we need to adopt new measures for our businesses to meet the challenges we are facing,” said Ms Edith Alusa-Bosire, chief executive of Ecotourism Kenya. Now the sector is looking for sustainable ways to do business and at what implications this means for tourism management.

All agree that the destruction of the environment has a major impact on tourism. The hazard impact on tourism has many implications:

  • Damage to physical and capital stock like hotels, roads, piers, electricity infrastructure…
  • Damage to environmental goods and services like reefs, wildlife and wildlife habitats, scenic landscapes, forests and eco-tourism resources or attractions generally
  • Loss of guest revenue and loss of jobs, loss of income to tour guides,  taxi operators, skiing instructors etc.water.gif

More specifically, in Kenya, the destruction of the Mau forest water tower is posing a major threat to the Maasai Mara, one of the country’s major attractions.
In France, a temperature rise of just two degrees Celsius would halve the number of ski resorts in the Alpine region of Haute-Savoie to 18. Coastal erosion, which already affects one-fifth of France’s tourist areas, would be aggravated by a rise in sea levels. In the Trinidad area, the period 1995 – 2001 represents the seven most hurricane active consecutive years on record, during which time there were 94 named storms, 58 hurricanes and 27 major hurricanes.

We need to clearly identify the effects of climate change on tourism. Get insights into the current status and what the future opportunities are,” said Adam Jillo, the acting chair of Kenya Tourism Federation. Eco-tourism has for a long time been viewed as a high end niche product, but now it’s set to become a necessity.  Ecotourism Kenya was founded in 1996 and has mainly concentrated on hotels, lodgers and camps. Now it aims to broaden its voluntary scheme to enable more facilities to market themselves as authentically ecofriendly. Ecotourism is an participating organization of GSTC.small_recycle.gif

The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) is a coalition of over 20 organizations working together to foster increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices. Their new criteria are based on best practices around the world and will be the minimum standard that any tourism business should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources. So hopefully tourism will contribute its part to fight climate change and offer us relaxing as well as sustainable holidays.

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