Climate change presents a serious threat to society, the economy and the environment and has been an issue of international concern for decades. As climate defines the length and quality of tourism seasons, affects tourism operations, and influences environmental conditions that both attract and deter visitors, the sector is considered to be highly climate sensitive.
Tourism and travel is also a vector of climate change, accounting for approximately five per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. By 2035, under a “business as usual” scenario, carbon dioxide emissions from global tourism are projected to increase by 130 per cent (WMO, UNEP and UNWTO 2008). Most of the increase is attributed to air travel but the sector has pledged to substantially reduce its emissions.
In response to the impacts of climate change on tourism, the National Department of Tourism (NDT) developed the National Tourism and Climate Change Response Programme and Climate Change and Action Plan in 2010. The main purpose of the response programme is to ensure that the tourism sector respond rapidly and effectively to the impact of climate change through a balanced set of mitigation and adaptation measures.
Draft National Tourism and Climate Change Action Plan
Given the cross-cutting nature of climate change, the Green Paper on Climate Change Response necessitates the development of implementation plans by affected sectors. In December 2010, the Department of Tourism established the Tourism and Climate Change Task Team to develop the National Tourism and Climate Change Response Programme and Action Plan.
Through the work of the Task Team it has become apparent that addressing the impacts of climate change on the tourism industry require long term policy responses as well as short to medium term actions to inform industry and implement some response measures. This Action Plan put more emphasis on the short to medium term actions.