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Beach and ski resorts at risk, as report outlines climate change’s impact on tourism



The tourism industry will be severely hit by the impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, acidifying oceans, the loss of biodiversity and global temperature increases, according to new research that draws on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) report.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), the Cambridge Judge Business School and the European Climate Foundation have looked at the impact of climate change on the tourism sector by analysing the latest IPCC findings.

The trio found that not only are greenhouse gas emissions from the tourism industry growing and are expected to rise by 130% between 2005 and 2035, but also that the sector seems unable to adapt to a changing climate.

Sea level rise and acidification threaten coastal tourism, risking damage to resorts and infrastructure, while rising temperatures mean shorter winters, which would affect winter tourism. The loss of biodiversity is also likely to damage ecotourism in areas of the world traditionally visited for their natural beauty.

Eliot Whittington, climate change director at the CISL, said, “The aim of this report, and the series of which it is a part, is to help businesses make the most of the highly valuable information in the IPCC reports, by distilling them into accurate, accessible, timely, relevant and readable summaries.

Meanwhile Stephen Farrant, director of the International Tourism Partnership, commented, “This is an extremely important and valuable summary of the IPCC findings for the tourism industry.

Every part of the industry needs to take note of its warnings and think about what more can be done to adapt to climate change, as well as how to continue the process of reducing the impact of their operations on the environment.

“This is a question of business continuity over the medium-term as much as a question simply of business responsibility.”

Photo: Britt Reints via flickr

Further reading:

Ski resorts and businesses call for policymakers to address climate change

US athletes urge Obama to save winter sports from climate change

Future Winter Olympics under threat from global warming

The IPCC’s stark warning: no nation will be untouched by climate change

Climate change endangering coral reefs vital to small islands