Tag: tourism

How Tourism can make Communities More Climate Resilient icebergs are at risk of melting

Climate change is not a future projection anymore. It belongs to the present, and tourism can be part of the solution. Learn about how tourism can make communities more climate resilient.

How Tourism can make Communities More Climate Resilient icebergs are at risk of melting

Rising sea levels, floods, biodiversity loss, tropical storms, and droughts are extreme weather events the world is experiencing nearly every day. Earth’s climate is undeniably changing and putting communities around the world at high risk. The past decade set a tragic record of being the warmest measured, and the average temperature increased by 1.2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. The effects of this change are becoming more visible as glaciers are melting causing sea levels to increase and natural catastrophes to take place more frequently. Although more efforts and investments are being done to decarbonize, global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase over the past few years, requiring more drastic and urgent actions for nations to become climate resilient. However, tourism can make communities more climate resilient

The effects of the changing climate can be observed worldwide, including in many popular tourism destinations. Some examples are Caribbean islands are increasingly in danger because of higher sea levels and tropical storms, horrible droughts in Africa are intensifying, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is losing its precious coral reefs thus risking its status as a UNESCO World Heritage SIte. 

The tourism industry depends on the quality of clear beaches, cities and nature to attract visitors. The tourism industry is at high risk from climate change. Unfortunately, the countries that are most dependent on tourism as a means for economic development are facing the greatest threats and challenges, with Small Island Development States (SIDS) being one of the most endangered regions.  

Nevertheless, the relationship between tourism and climate change is complex. Research shows tourism is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, mostly due to transportation. With the massive growth in tourism arrivals, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing long-distance trips, this development has persisted and is expected to increase even further. Thus, tourism is at risk due to the changing climate, but also contributes to the negative impacts on the environment, natural habitats and biodiversity. 

The communities dependent on tourism incomes conversely need the money for their survival while living with the negative impacts caused by the tourism industry. Thus, with climate change worsening, the need to become more climate resilient must be the ultimate goal for destinations to secure their precious environment and communities’ livelihood for the future. 

How tourism can make communities more climate resilient

The tourism sector has immense potential to be a role model in carrying out climate resilient initiatives. Fortunately, tourism is more than a mere industry – it is a dense network of interrelated stakeholders always open to collaborating to solve complex issues, such as climate change. By joining together and working side-by-side, tourism actors can mitigate their environmental footprints and help local communities and their respective natural areas. Ultimately, performing sustainable practices and spreading responsible knowledge will not only safeguard biodiversity, regulate the climate, and ensure life on Earth, but will also help communities – shaping them to be more climate resilient.

At Solimar International, we have always acknowledged that, when done properly, tourism can be a force for good. Sustainable tourism contributes to economically sustainable growth, while also sharing knowledge to empower communities and preserve their natural resources. After all, by striving to improve the destination and bringing it closer to its pure and untouched state, our conception of tourism goes beyond “sustainability” i.e. merely keeping the status quo. At Solimar, we are moving towards the regenerative tourism movement, recognizing that tourism should adopt an active role in making destinations better than they were found. Undeniably, climate change must be tackled now if we wish to guarantee the continuance of the tourism sector, attain the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, and replenish the Earth.

How can tourism stakeholders increase climate change resilience? 

Integrating climate resilient initiatives into development strategies is necessary to prepare destinations and communities to brace for future disasters and climate change. There are plenty of ways to regenerate destinations, from investments for innovation and research, to design and planning. The World Bank Resilient Tourism Framework is a great guiding method to do so, illustrating five steps to build effective industry resilience.

 

Source: World Bank. 2020. Resilient Tourism: Competitiveness in the Face of Disasters. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Source: World Bank. 2020. Resilient Tourism: Competitiveness in the Face of Disasters. Washington, DC: World Bank.

More specifically, there are numerous industry-led and destination management examples of measures that prove that many in our sector have already been doing great work. Here are examples of regenerative tourism actions, which any tourism stakeholder can take inspiration:

1. Coral reconstruction and mangrove restoration efforts to regenerative destinations

These actions, as well as beach and oceans clean-up actions, are perfect examples of how the lodging sector, tour operators, DMOs, and local businesses can increase the protection of natural resources through conservation initiatives. Coral reefs and mangroves form part of our biodiversity, attract tourists, and most importantly, protect us against waves and storm surges. Check out how the Hilton Hotel is working towards environmental sustainability in Seychelles here.

How can tourism make communities more climate resilient? Source: Coral Restoration Foundation. Coral Reconstruction initiatives.
Source- Coral Restoration Foundation. Coral Reconstruction initiatives.

2. Investing in more resistant materials or shifting to more inland construction

Recent hurricanes in the Caribbean have demonstrated how higher sea levels and storms are increasingly threatening these delicate island ecosystems. Instead of building and designing the usual seaside infrastructures, it is time to rethink the business models and take into consideration damaging hazards and sea-level rise.

Source: Johnny Milano, The New York Times. The ‘Sand Palace’ in Mexico Beach, FL.
Source: Johnny Milano, The New York Times. The ‘Sand Palace’ in Mexico Beach, FL.

3. Decarbonize to level zero

Tourism must decarbonize to level zero to meet pledges made in the Paris Agreement, and reducing carbon emissions needs to become a strategic priority in the whole sector. With increasing technological advances and social innovation, alternative energy-efficient systems have become a reality and integrated into ecotourism and reduce ecological footprint.  The Future of Tourism Coalition has recently held an interesting webinar about preparing a climate action plan and measuring your carbon footprints.

4. Local sourcing, local sourcing, local sourcing.

Thinking local is key to increasing climate resilience. Not only tourists will find more authenticity in their experiences, but communities will also be brought to the forefront through the supply chain of any business (food, workers, products, traditions, and heritage). Moreover, this inevitably reduces carbon footprint and gives more opportunities to embrace the sustainable circle economy, provide support, training, and education.

5. Eliminate seasonality dependence

As tourism jobs are usually low-paid, efforts to get rid of seasonality dependence is one example to sustain the economy and empower the communities by providing long-lasting jobs instead of the usual limited seasonal contracts.

Do not forget that tourism would not exist without the extremely rich biodiversity we live in and depend upon. Climate change is everyone’s problem – and tourism can also be part of the solution. 

Solimar International has led several similar projects that are designed to help tourism businesses and institutions lower their environmental footprints and meet sustainability standards. In the project of the Sustainable Island Platform our goal is supporting innovative development for island territories with a focus on the blue economy and circular economy. Making those threatened communities less vulnerable to climate change is the aim that we follow while increasing the visibility of innovative business strategies that can help communities secure their livelihoods. If you think your business or destination also needs such support, contact us to find out how our expert team can help you.

The Sustainable Island Platform project
The Sustainable Island Platform project

Written by Lena Eckert and Amélie Keller

World Tourism Day is here! Communities in destinations around the world are finding ways to celebrate both virtually and in person. The 2021 theme chosen by the World Tourism Organization is “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”. In this blog post, We’ll explore the origins of World Tourism Day, and the goals being set for the future.

What is World Tourism Day?

World Tourism Day is a day where professionals and organizations in the industry focus on a single topic that’s been designated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). This year, the theme encourages tourism stakeholders to engage in practices of equality in growth. Tourism, as many other economic sectors, has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some estimate that around 4 trillion dollars could be lost in the global economy from the tourism industry alone. As countries fight to contain and move past variants of the virus and their implications, the tourism industry is setting their sights on recovery. 

For 2021, the UNWTO decided to emphasize that in this growth we must not forget the most vulnerable and underserved communities. Tourism for inclusive growth is an idea that promises a helping hand to the communities and people hurt most by actions of the past. 

When is this day celebrated and why?

Every year on 27th September. The UNWTO came up with the idea of World Tourism day in 1979. The first commemorative year was 1980, and the date was chosen to coincide with the adoption of UNWTO standards. Since then, it has been held on the anniversary of the adoption, September 27th, which marks the end of peak tourism season in the northern hemisphere, and the beginning of the peak in the southern hemisphere. 

Major themes from past years

A new theme is chosen carefully for this special day every year. The inaugural year held the theme: “Tourism’s contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage and peace and mutual understanding.” Tourism is a vessel for cultural preservation. This is done not only with economic incentives, but also through social interest and call for conservation. An example of this principle can be seen in Solimar’s 2017 work in Sri Lanka, where we helped diversify attractions and capacities in the area to help enrich the experiences for both tourists and citizens. 

The year 2000 focused on Chile, and the theme, “Tourism: preserving world heritage for the new millennium.” Here we get another hint of that first year’s cultural preservation, and with good reason! Chile has had a stressful recent history with political unrest and biological shocks that come with tourism entering untouched environments. Only through working towards the UN’s sustainable development goals, and holding an emphasis on biocultural conservation, can we have a chance at protecting this natural stronghold? Plenty of work is still yet to come. 

 

World Tourism Day’s 30th anniversary, 2020, explored the theme “Tourism and Rural Development.” The focus was on tourism’s ability to affect the economic sectors of communities around the world in outlying areas. That principle became especially significant following the COVID restrictions and social consequences that ensued. Rural areas gave weary travelers not only space to socially-distance themselves, but it also provided a much needed connection to the natural world after months of lock down in our homes.

Inclusive Growth in International Communities

Attention must be paid to bolstering and supporting smaller communities and destinations around the world that may not have the same level of stability as others. Social, cultural, and political aspects must be addressed to create inclusive societies through sustainable tourism. A fascinating commemoration of this day is Nepal reopening to foreign travel. Many people anticipate the country to relax restrictions and welcome tourists back to their majestic Himalayan landscapes. In the midst of a major border conflict with India, and having been hit hard by two lockdowns, Nepal looks forward to a chance of economic relief through an influx of foreign tourist dollars and cash flow. 

Celebrations of World Tourism Day 2021 

World Tourism Day in Opatija, Croatia 

A three-day World Tourism Day celebration took place in Opatija to commemorate the successful summer of tourism in the Kvarner Bay. Historical and cultural walks were organized through the city to offer an intimate view of Croatia’s past. The Tourist Board of Opatija also planned an array of events and concerts to promote the cultural, political, and economic values of tourism in Croatia. 

World Tourism Day in Abuja, Nigeria 

“36 Destinations Nigeria”, a tourism marketplace event, has been planned in line with World Tourism Day. The event is open to bloggers, tour guides, government officials, and other stakeholders. The aim is to widen Nigeria’s opportunities for all communities, and in line with this year’s theme, especially the communities that suffered most during COVID.

Future of Global Tourism Towards a Sustainable Future

Each year, the UNWTO attempts to find new important milestones in world tourism to celebrate. As aforesaid, the theme has continued to change and shift through the years, but the general ideas hold the same: 

  • Tourism is a tool to be used in the preservation of biocultural heritage around the world.
  • Tourism is an ever growing industry that, like others, needs to focus on sustainable practices to save special places, but and make tourists enjoy them all the more.
  • Tourism creates benefits that need to be felt equally among communities both big and small around the world.

UNWTO holds to their values of the 2030 agenda for sustainable tourism, by expecting that future growth places innovation and sustainability at the forefront of our thoughts as an industry. They even go as far as to say it will be our, “new normal”. With any hope, that will certainly hold to be true. 

Interested in learning more about local players in the tourism industry? Check out Solimar’s online courses on Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) and the roles they play. 

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

Contact us

  • Address

    641 S Street NW, Third Floor
    Washington, DC 20001
  • Phone

    (202) 518-6192