The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who "travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for more than twenty-four hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.

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 Climate change can potentially have a major effect on global patterns of tourism because environmental considerations are a significant component of decision making regarding holiday destinations. In some locations, increasingly favorable climatic conditions for tourism could have a beneficial impact on local economies if tourists respond to these changes by altering their choice of destination.

The global tourism industry is a significant contributor to climate change. However, it should be noted that just 2 % of the world's population actively takes part in air passenger transport (Gossling, Becken, 2007), contributing to tourism's share of global warming which is up to 12.5

The natural resource base is a necessary part of outdoor recreation, be it water for sailing, swimming, fishing etc.; snows for skiing, snow shoeing or tobogganing; or wildlife for viewing or hunting. Tourism as climate and weather sensitive sector, which depends on healthy environment, is challenged in particular. As contributor to climate change, tourism needs to develop mitigation strategies. And with regard to changing weather patterns tourism needs to develop adaptation strategies for infrastructures and products, which should be mitigation-oriented.

Global climate is changing and is affecting bio-physical and socio-economic systems. An increase of global temperature during the past hundred years has been measured. Depending on the emission of greenhouse gases the expert panel on climate change expects a significant increase of global temperature for the upcoming decades. Climate change, however, is an important, but not the only factor influencing risk and opportunities for tourist destinations. Ongoing trends in tourism such as demographic change, target group differentiation or growing demand of more experienced tourists, are of relevance for decision making in tourism.

The tourism industry has a key role to play in confronting the challenges of climate change. The spectacular growth of tourism provides both a challenge and an opportunity. The tourist community itself has responded to this challenge over the past few years and visibly stepped up its response to climate change.


"Sustainable tourism" is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity and life support systems. "(World Tourism Organization)

Sustainable tourists can reduce the impact of tourism in many ways, including:

• Informing themselves of the culture, politics, and economy of the communities visited

• Anticipating and respecting local cultures, expectations and assumptions.

• Contributing to intercultural understanding and tolerance.

• Supporting the integrity of local cultures by favoring businesses which conserve cultural heritage and traditional values.

• Supporting local economies by purchasing local goods and participating with small, s

• Conserving resources by seeking out businesses that are environmentally conscious, and by using the least possible amount of non-renewable resources increasingly, destinations and tourism operations are endorsing and following "responsible tourism" as a pathway towards sustainable tourism.

As a global phenomenon, tourism is intimately linked to this other global phenomenon that is climate change. A relationship of synergy between climate change reduction policy and other sustainable development policies.

Advocates in the adventure tourism industry are making an effort to organize, aggregate and promote the best practices developed by individual adventure tourism firm’s upto the industry level. The principles of sustainable development for adventure tourism have been organized into an Adventure Tourism Development Index according to the 10 Pillars of Adventure Tourism Market Competitiveness:

1. Government Policy

2. Safety

3. Health

4. Natural Resources

5. Cultural Resources

6. Adventure Resources

7. Entrepreneurship

8. Humanitarian

9. Infrastructure

10. Image


 Climate change impacts can be measured as an economic cost. This is particularly well suited to market impacts that are impacts that are linked to market transactions and directly affect GDP. Monetary measures of non-market impacts, e.g., impacts on human health and ecosystems, are more difficult to calculate (Smith, 1990).

A number of other sectors will be affected by climate change, including the livestock, forestry, and fisheries industries. Other sectors sensitive to climate change include the energy, construction, insurance, tourism and recreation industries. The aggregate impact of climate change on most of these sectors is highly uncertain (Schneider, Semenov, Patwardhan, Burton, Magadza, 2007).

There are four complicated interactions between tourism development and climate change, ranging from natural, external phenomena to those resulting from human behaviors.

1. Direct impact from weather phenomena caused by warming: destruction wrought by floods, storms, fires and drought, glacial lake overflows, the disappearance of beaches and so on. Climate is a principal resource for tourism, as it codetermines the suitability of locations for a wide range of tourist activities, is a principal driver of global seasonality in tourism demand, and has an important influence on operating costs, such as heating cooling, snowmaking, irrigation, food and water supply, and insurance costs.

 2. Indirect, long-term impacts resulting from a substantial and lasting alteration of the environment of a tourist destination that reduces its attractiveness (polluted waters, receding forests, decreased biodiversity, retreating glaciers and snow caps, etc.).Because environmental conditions are such a critical resource for tourism, a wide-range of climate-induced environmental changes will have profound effects on tourism at the local and regional destination level. Changes in water availability, biodiversity loss, reduced landscape aesthetic, altered agricultural production (e.g., food and wine tourism), increased natural hazards, coastal erosion and inundation, damage to infrastructure and the increasing incidence of vector-borne diseases will all impact tourism to varying degrees.

3. Lifestyle changes, causing, for example, the reorientation of tourism flows both in winter and summer.

4. Induced impacts, which include the efforts of individuals and public policies aimed at attenuating the effects of warming that produce a series of consequences for tourism activity.

 3. A- Climate change and potential impacts on mountain Tourism

Mountain areas are sensitive to climate change. Implications of climate change can be seen, for example, in less snow, receding glaciers, melting permafrost and more extreme events like landslides. Furthermore, climate change will shift mountain flora and fauna. Second order impacts will occur in mountain agriculture, mountain hydropower and, of course, mountain tourism

Snow For many alpine areas, winter tourism is the most important source of income, and snow reliability is one of the key elements of the touristic offers. Skiing and snowboarding, but also snow related activities like cross country skiing or snow moiling depend on enough snow.

3. A.1 Glaciers

 There is a measured increase in the retreat of glaciers all over the world. Glaciers are not only a severe lost of mountain aesthetic, but also a problem for ski slopes on glaciers in winter and summer skiing.

 3. A.2 Permafrost

 Global warming increases melting of permafrost and makes many mountain areas vulnerable to landslides. Mountain cableway stations lift masts and other buildings in permafrost soil become instable. To brace and to anchor such buildings in melting permafrost-soils causes high costs

3. B- Facts on Climate Change

 Consensus exists that humans influence the global climate, and human activities contribute to global warming. Humans add 26 billion metric tons of the principal greenhouse gas (GHG) carbon dioxide (C02) to the atmosphere per year (approximately four metric tons per person)

GHG emissions have risen 70 percent between 1970 and2004.

Global CO2 emissions from aviation are small compared to other industries. However, although aviation is responsible for only 2 to 2.5 percent of total CO2 emissions, these emissions are predicted to rise annually.

The scientific community has identified the transport industry (and particularly the aviation sector) as part of the climate change problem.

Individuals and organizations can make a difference by mitigating their emissions, making their practices more sustainable, and reducing the impact of their actions on our global climate and environment.

3. B.1 Climate change

Like all human activities involving combustion, most forms of aviation release carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the Earth's atmosphere, contributing to the acceleration of global warming and (in the case of CO2) ocean acidification.

 In addition to the CO2 released by most aircraft in flight through the burning of fuels such as Jet-A (turbine aircraft) or Avgas (piston aircraft), the aviation industry also contributes greenhouse gas emissions from ground airport vehicles and those used by passengers and staff to access airports, as well as through emissions generated by the production of energy used in airport buildings, the manufacture of aircraft and the construction of airport infrastructure.

While the principal greenhouse gas emission from powered aircraft in flight is CO2, other emissions may include nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, (together termed oxides of nitrogen or NOx), water vapour and particulates (soot and sulfate particles), sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide (which bonds with oxygen to become CO2 immediately upon release), incompletely burned hydrocarbons, tetra-ethyl lead (piston aircraft only), and radicals such as hydroxyl, depending on the type of aircraft in use.

The contribution of civil aircraft-in-flight to global CO2 emissions has been estimated at around 2%.However, in the case of high-altitude airliners which frequently fly near or in the stratosphere, non-CO2 altitude-sensitive effects may increase the total impact on anthropogenic (man-made) climate change significantly.

3. B.2- Total climate effects

In attempting to aggregate and quantify the total climate impact of aircraft emissions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that aviation’s total climate impact is some 2-4 times that of its direct CO2 emissions alone (excluding the potential impact of cirrus cloud enhancement).This is measured as radiative forcing. While there is uncertainty about the exact level of impact of NOx and water vapour, governments have accepted the broad scientific view that they do have an effect. Globally in 2005, aviation contributed "possibly as much as 4.9% of radiative forcing." UK government policy statements have stressed the need for aviation to address its total climate change impacts and not simply the impact of CO2.

The IPCC has estimated that aviation is responsible for around 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change, a figure which includes both CO2 and non-CO2 induced effects. The IPCC has produced scenarios estimating what this figure could be in 2050. The central case estimate is that aviation’s contribution could grow to 5% of the total contribution by 2050 if action is not taken to tackle these emissions, though the highest scenario is 15%.Moreover, if other industries achieve significant cuts in their own greenhouse gas emissions, aviation’s share as a proportion of the remaining emissions could also rise.


 The tourism representatives at a political, entrepreneurial, operational and organizational level are not sitting back idly contemplating the consequences of a climate change. They are adapting right now in the expectation of climate change. The simultaneous implementation of actions to mitigate the impact of tourism on climate change, adapt to current and future climate changes, to develop new or apply existing technology to enhance energy efficiency and to secure financial resources to ensure poorer regions or countries are also able to meet the recommendations.

4. A- Climate change adaptation in Tourism

Adaptation to climate change refers to an adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities (IPCC, 2007a). Adaptation can be pursued by societies, institutions, individuals, governments and can be motivated by economic, social or environmental drivers through many mechanisms.


The IPCC (2007b) has indicated that all societies and economic sectors will inevitability need to adapt to climate change in the decades ahead, and that adaptation is already occurring in many economic sectors, including tourism.

Tourism service suppliers and operators at specific destinations have less adaptive capacity. Large tour operators, who do not own the infrastructure, are in a better position to adapt to changes at destinations because they can respond to clients demands and provide information to influence client’s travel choices. Adaptation and can be complementary, substitutable or independent of each other (Rogner, Zhou, Bradley, 2007). If complementary, adaptation reduces the costs of climate change impacts and thus reduces the needs for mitigation.

Adaptation and mitigation are substitutable up to a point, but mitigation will always be required to avoid irreversible changes to the climate system and adaptation will still be necessary due to the irreversible climate change resulting from current and historic rises in GHG and the inertia in the climate system.

Climate change is likely to have a long term affect on tourist activities, destinations, and flows as well as the capacities of countries, destinations, and firms to respond to such change.

4. B- Climate change mitigation in Tourism

 Tourism is a significant contributor to climate change. As outlined earlier, recent evidence suggests that the sector's contribution to global anthropogenic CO2 emissions is in the order of just 5% (in 2005), but may be higher (from 5% to14%) if measured as eradicative forcing, i.e. the warming caused by CO2 as well as other greenhouse gases.

The overall objective of climate change mitigation strategies, policies and activities in the tourism sector is to contribute to the achievement of "carbon neutrality" in the sector. For business and institutions "carbon neutrality" can be defined by the entire set of policies that an institution or business uses when it estimates its known greenhouse gas emissions, takes measures to reduce them, and purchases carbon offsets to "neutralize" those emissions that remain.

The tourism sector is composed of a wide range of businesses, from small, local operations that service a single local market to very large transport, hotel and tour operator companies that serve global markets across entire regions and which sell or facilitate millions or tens of millions of tour packages to foreign destinations each year. The industry provides tourists with products and services such as accommodation, transport, food and drink, attractions to visit, and souvenirs to purchase.

Though it is clear that the industry shapes demand to a large extent through marketing, tourists still make the final choices as to where to visit. Tourists can also help to reduce the impact of their travel by participating in carbon offsetting. The term carbon compensation or offsetting means that an amount of greenhouse gas emissions equal to that caused by a certain activity, i.e. a flight, will be reduced elsewhere.


 In the consideration of climate change and tourism, it is suggested that more emphasis be placed on risk assessment. The vulnerability of tourism to climate change is discussed briefly and the difficulty of generalizing across a multitude of locations and activities is stressed. Limitation and adaptation are discussed and the need for both is acknowledged.

The uncertainties that usually surface in climate change deliberations and are given most prominence in discussions are usually those that are associated with physical systems. Vulnerability refers to the extent to which a system may be (adversely) affected, disrupted or displaced by an external force. In this case, we are concerned with components of the tourism system and the challenges associated with climate change.

 The magnitude of the implications of climate change for tourism and recreation will depend upon both the distribution and importance of tourism phenomena and the characteristics of climate change. Other things being equal, locations whose economies are highly dependent on tourism appear to be at the greatest risk (Simpson, 2008).

 Tourism is both widely distributed and highly concentrated. Some claim that tourism is now the largest industry in the world and there are few areas that are untouched by tourism. In this sense it is a global industry. Cities are often major tourism attractions but they usually have a diversified economy. It is often the less-populated areas which have a high dependence on tourism and many coastal and mountain locations specialize in catering to tourists.

One of the major attributes of most tourist destinations is seasonality. Not only is there a regular round of activities associated with the seasons, there is also variation in activity in areas lacking a marked seasonal climate. This is because seasonality in areas of demand results in seasonal variations in visitation to areas of supply. The length of the season is also of crucial importance for private sector operators of tourist facilities.

5. A- Air transport as risk to tourism

 Though most tourism trips use surface based transport modes, air transport is responsible for up to 60% of the impact of tourism on climate change. However, the share of air transport within tourism grows fast posing a risk for tourism in case policy measures are taken to prevent dangerous climate change. Economic measures like emission trading are most efficient if the policies are consistent over a longer time span. A technological revolution towards emission free aviation will take many decades to develop, but may in the (very) long term provide new opportunities for air transport growth.

 Human induced greenhouse effects of motorized transport are caused by emissions from burning fossil fuel. The emissions of carbon dioxide (C02) are directly proportional to the kind and amount of fuel used. In air transport also other gases like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and water vapor have effects on the climate. The total effect on climate change is usually expressed in carbon dioxide equivalents (C02-e), using the 'equivalence factor', the effect of all emissions divided by the effect of C02 only. For surface transport (road, rail and shipping) this factor is about1.05). Due to the contrail and cirrus forming the equivalence factor for air transport

 Following options are available to reduce climate change impact of air transport:

 • Reducing power-on delays at take-off and before landing;

  reducing flight holding time

• Optimization of routes

• Optimization of flight path and speed/altitude schedules

• Network optimization and fleet composition

At macroeconomic levels, global measures reducing the amount of passenger air transport may not have much negative effects. Most important variables for the sector are the total number of leisure days available, the accommodation used, the total amount of money spent on activities and on transport.         

Of course tourism may have beneficial effects on the economic position of developing countries and may reduce poverty, but it should be based on short haul markets within the region for mass-tourism and exclusive long-haul tourism generating large local revenues with small numbers of tourists, like some forms of eco-tourism. An important parameter to relate poverty and sustainable tourism would be the amount of the tourism revenues going directly to the poor divided by the total greenhouses emitted through the tourism product (for transport, accommodation and activities). If air transport seeks to become sustainable, current growth of impact has to be reversed to a reduction using operational efficiency increases and especially volume growth control. This requires multilateral and global action, like emissions trading at European or global level, or emission incentives and ATC improvement both at ED level.


Tourism and outdoor recreation benefit the economies of many communities. As the climate and the mix of recreational activities changes these economies can be expected to be affected. If communities do not have access to information on the relationship between recreation and the possible effects of climate change, they could be making decisions to diversify their economies in an unsustainable way.                      

Tourism and recreation activities do not take place in a vacuum and as such interact with many other sectors. As the prairie region gets drier and experiences more drought conditions recreational water users will be competing with farmers and industry for that water source. This holds the potential for conflicts among users for limited supplies of good quality water. Other resource conflicts that can arise are between recreationists and the forestry, mining and commercial fishing industries   

Longer, warmer summers may lead to greater visit at onto parks which could result in degradation, over development and over use. Fewer hunters in the south could also mean over population of big game species which would require new management techniques.


 Climate protection is an integral part of corporate social responsibility and thus an important element of customer information. Transparency is a pre-condition for well informed customers to be able to consciously decide on a climate-sensitive tour operator or a climate-friendly tourism product.  

 Tourism businesses, national and international associations, UNWTO and the tourism sector as a whole are asked to work towards sustainable tourism in a creative and innovative manner

• Developing fair and responsible tourism products.

• Advocating human rights and social standards to be respected, and the local       population to benefit.

• Practicing corporate social responsibility and by developing on the basis of   measurability and transparency an action plan for the Davos Declaration that includes clear climate protection targets.

• Introducing social and ecological product labeling, providing information on carbon footprints or on the ecological balance sheet of tourism products.

• Developing and improving methods and standards to calculate and measure emissions in tourism.

• Including a Radiative Forcing Index (RFI) of at least three when calculating flight emissions in order to take into account the higher impact on the climate as aircraft emissions occur at high altitudes.

• Recognizing and ensuring that growth in tourism is possible while emissions are being reduced at the same time.

• Establishing clear reduction targets and deadlines for tourism emissions and by developing innovative instruments and methods to achieve these reduction targets

• defining climate protection targets as a corporate voluntary commitment and by integrating them into strategies of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

• Ensuring that reduction targets are achieved mainly by increasing efficiency and by reducing emissions in the core business.

7. A- Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM)

Alarmingly, the UNWTO put up for discussion the proposition that "Some Clean Development Mechanism and Emission Trading projects and trading revenues be earmarked for specific allotment to related aviation and tourism projects . . . ". Both the tourism and aviation industries should consider mitigation of their emissions as an integral part of their decision making and business operations, which should also include climate responsibility. Communities and movements in the Global South have expressed a clear stand that market based mechanisms such as CDM and carbon trading are false solutions. As a major source of emissions, Northern countries need to mitigate their emissions in their own countries. Furthermore, the call for

climate justice implies that, having acknowledged their responsibility for GHG emissions, Northern countries should be prepared to make substantial financial transfers to the South for coping with the inevitable impact of global warming, such as natural disasters, sea level rise, food shortage or mass migration


 Climate change may affect important environmental components of holiday destinations, which might have repercussions for tourism-dependent economies. Warm temperatures, clear waters and low health risks were the most important environmental features determining holiday destination choice. Tourism has great potential to provide socio-economic benefits for wider local economies, involving sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and handicrafts and if properly planned and managed, it can bring improved standards of infrastructure, health and education; food security; gender equality, personal safety, and self-esteem; improved natural resources and their management; and participation in policymaking and planning. Weather conditions and their changes in the short term are important for tourism, as they also are for leisure activities practiced close to home. The quality and reliability of forecasts have improved considerably over the course of the past years, and weather predictions are now also valid for a longer period of time ahead, which allows everybody, whether tourists or leisure industry professionals, to better plan their activities in advance.

 The vulnerability of tourism to climate change has been discussed briefly and the difficulty of generalizing across a multitude of locations and activities has been stressed. A distinction has been made between limitation and adaptation, the need for both has been acknowledged and it has been recognized that both have implications for tourism. The interactions between tourism development and climate change are of different nature; They resemble those" complication watches" that are so cherished by fortunate aficionados; They constitute a complex web of relationships, consisting as they do, like climate change itself, of phenomena that are part natural, and also partly the result of human behaviors.

 The responsible tourism approach achieves sustainable tourism while creating better places for people to live in and for people to visit. It also recognizes that dialogue, partnerships and multi-stakeholder processes – involving government, business, and local communities - can only ultimately be realized at the local level in order to ensure that this goal is achieved. Thus, there is a shared responsibility for implementing sustainable adventure tourism:

• Practices in their business operations

• Integrating environmental

• Social and economic objectives into tourism policies and plans and providing the 'enabling' environment for private-sector initiatives

• "Responsible' traveler.

 The efforts of larger tourism organizations as well as various certification programs are enabling companies to reduce costs, mainly related to the environment (water, waste and energy savings). These cost savings or training aids have helped improve management practices and processes, resulting in potentially wider recognition of the importance of sustainability.                                                                        

Winter tourism depends on good snow conditions and is highly sensitive to snow-deficient winters. Climate research findings show that there will be an increase in the number of winters with little snow on account of climate change. The tourism representatives will not just sit back idly in the face of climate change. They are reacting to the deteriorating snow conditions and the changes in demand. Tourists demand good snow conditions, and hence, this is what has to be offered by the ski resorts. Tourism As a sector of the economy that is severely affected by climate change, however, tourism needs to focus more on mitigation strategies in its own best interests. This holds particularly true for the traffic generated by national and international tourism and, above all, for air traffic. Tourist development and tourist projects not only need to be verified and evaluated in terms of their social and environmental compatibility but must also be assessed from the climate-compatibility angle.


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Posted On:  Thursday, 11 October, 2012 - 18:02

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