Climate change and tourism plays a vital part of the today’s world tourism and development of the destinations. Therefore local and international community is taking actions against the climate change and have agreed common framework led by the United Nations. Tourism and travel contribute to global economy and especially developing countries. Tourism is an effective way of balancing wealth, gender equality, cultural preservation and natural conservation. As a result, this is a foundation for achieving and contributing towards the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Climate change is one of the most serious challenge and threat to whole world society, the economy and the environment. Governments and local authorities have taken some actions and decisions against the climate change to overcome future impacts and problems for the tourism industry. However the effects of a changing climate would consider and concern impacts on tourism and travel business industries. Some part of the world destinations, these impacts are increasingly and rapidly evident. The Caribbean, small Island nations, most part of Asian and African continent are the tourism regions that thought to be most at risk and challenge. The travel and tourism sectors will ensure that communities, local governments and nations continue to receive benefits and advantages of tourism.
According to the Davos Declaration 2007, it is believed to be able to achieve the goals for the tourism sectors to rapidly respond to develop the climate change in a sustainable manner. These goals and actions need to be required to succeed. Reducing green house gas emission, adaption of tourism businesses and destinations to changing climate conditions, existing new technologies to improve energy efficiency and secure financial resources to assist regions and countries. Therefore there is an interest for mitigation, adaptation, technology and secure financing in order to achieve the Millennium Developments Goals according to the Davos declaration.
Tourism is one of the major industries attracting millions of tourist around world yearly and giving more benefits to the economy and people of the destination. This assignment has identified and clarify one of the world’s fascinated and gorgeous destination called as ‘The pearl of Indian ocean’ known as Sri Lanka. In another words, known as Serendib, Taprobane, and Ceylon. Discover refreshingly and wonderful Sri Lanka.
It is home to seven world heritage sites: Galle, Kandy, Sigiriya, Anurdhapura, polonnnaruwa, Dambulla Cave Temple and Sinharaja tropical rain forest which is highlighted by UNESCO. . And also there are many attracted beaches are visited by tourists come from various destinations and the other reason that attracts tourists is its scenic natural beauty and people of the Island. In addition there are various attractions are visited by local and international tourists. There are Archaeological sites, National Parks, Elephants (Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage), and Adventure Sports.To supplements this tourist attraction sites, Sri Lanka has a rich climate and biodiversity. The island enjoys tropical climate distinctively divided into a wet region and a combination of various ecological zones region. The island is subject to south west and North east monsoon winds. The forest cover in year 2009 is approximately 30% -most of this is in the central highlands and mangrove forests along the coast.
Climate change effects in Sri Lanka can be viewed in terms of scale and causes. Large scale effects include a threat of northern regions being submerged due to rising Indian Ocean levels. The island has also been experiencing sharp changes in weather patterns. This has had an effect on tourism and, agriculture. Temperature changes have also had an impact on wildlife survival and distribution. Human factors that have contributed to climate change in Sri Lanka include pollution, urbanization effects and widespread deforestation.
The stake holders in Sri Lanka tourism have indentified the threat of climate changes to their interests. In the recent past, there has been concerted efforts by the government, private tourism dependent businesses and non-governmental organization towards promoting eco-friendly tourism in Sri lanka This analysis of Davos declaration guided climate change mitigation in Sri lanka will focus on tourism support sector activities and the government overall policy framework in honouring the declaration.
Mitigation or Adaptation?
There are extreme views on how the tourism sector should respond to climate change. From an economic perspective there are views that tourism should respond to climatic change by adapting to the new occurrences. Proponents of this Darwinian view argue that only tourist attractions that survive the effects of climate change are economically viable. This school of thought is sympathetic to a situation where a snow capped mountain that attract skaters adapts to the effects of climate change and after a century it is a sand dune with desert tourist attraction features. The other perspective to climate change and tourism focus on mitigation. This is the most popular view due to its concern for life. The world has embraced this view as evident in the Davos declaration, Kyoto agreement and Copenhagen climate accord. Proponents of adaptation view argue that the economic costs of mitigation are too heavy to be shouldered by our generation only. Irrespective of this economic fact, Sri Lanka which is a major beneficially of tourism has joined the world in opting for mitigation of climatic changes with regard to tourism.
The Sri Lanka government has been the centre pole for climate change mitigation. Prudent policy frameworks have been formulated to ensure a sustainable tourism sector in an eco-friendly setting. The government has initiated mitigation programmes that involve all the stakeholders in the tourism sector in efforts of achieving compliance to environmental legislations and attaining the main objective. Sri Lanka government was party to the Davos declaration and therefore it is essentially and morally demanding to implement the declaration’s recommendation. To curb the effect of climate change. The government has formulated a ten year action plan that focuses on tourism and manner of dealing with climate change. There exists regulations code for tourism sector operators to ensure eco-friendly operations. In the hotel industry there exist set codes of practice aimed at ensuring environmental friendly waste management systems within the hotels. The government have also set up guidelines for transport sector players in efforts to reduce the effects of climate change. Travel companies undergo vetting on the vehicle standards they use and their effects on the Sri Lankan biodiversity. Apart from legal regulation, there have been motivations for compliance e.g. licensing procedures for compliant chain hotels that want to expand branch network. The government recognition that the tourism industry is based on nature has enabled robust environmental programmes and working links with scientist and tourism beneficially. This has earned Sri lanka wide support from the tourism society globally.The ten year action plan involves awareness programmes that sensitize citizens and tourism layers of the threats of climate change. Since carbon emissions are largely to blame for the threatening climate change, the government came up with a framework to reduce carbon production. High polluting machineries were highly taxed making them unviable economically thus industrialists were passively forced to use low pollution machinery. There has been wide advocacy for environmental friendly sustainable operations in the tourism sector. The government has succeeded in making it fashionable to have eco-friendly operations. This change has seen many hotels use their eco-friendly ‘characteristics’ as marketing tools. Many companies are also opting for environmental conservation programmes as their corporate social responsibilities. Among the Sri Lanka consumers a new trend of preferring eco-friendly products is emerging. This successful social communication is shifting the market to what the government aspires. The action plan is a beneficiary of the Kyoto treaty. Sri Lanka is currently involved in massive tree planting programmes especially among the rural poor and rice farmers. The island is bound to cash on the carbon credits Kyoto protocol provisions. Carbon trading is a yet to be fully realized mechanism of dealing with climate change.
The major milestone in climate change mitigation was setting up of the Earth Lung programme that aims at achieving a carbon clean Sri Lanka by 2018.This programme is involved in offering financial and technical support for environmental conservation ventures that focus on natural, social and cultural environment of Sri-lanka. The initiative is involved in research activities that are vital to the tourism sector. Knowledge developed from research is disseminated to stakeholders in the tourism sector that forms the base of this programme.
The success of the earth lung project in Sri Lanka can also be attributed to the psychology of cossonance dissonance principle. Believe by the majority of the world population that we ought to conserve the environment elicits guilt among individuals when they act contrary. This guilt can be a threat to any tourism enterprise since people travel to find pleasure not guilt. The earth lung works to minimize or eradicate the travel guilt of tourists visiting Sri Lanka.It aims at making Sri Lanka a green destination. This will not only be an addition to the tourist attractions list but also a step to honouring the Davos declaration.
In wildlife conservation, the earth lung programme focuses on simple habits that can mitigate the effect of climate change. The government through the ministries in charge of tourism and environment have been securing financial support from major ‘world polluters’ through the carbon credit Kyoto protocol initiative. The earth lung project has attracted a network of supports now called the earth lung community. The supporters mainly from the government sector live up to the principles of carbon clean Sri Lanka.
The hospitality industry forms the base for tourism. The concept of tourism as travelling for pleasure would lose meaning without a developed modern hospitality sector. Sri Lanka boasts of high class hotels in its scenic sites. Recent sri lanka tourism adverts portray hotels as attraction sites in themselves.The operations of hotel industry contributes to environmental degradation, It is in regard to this fact that hotels in Sri lanka are involved in energy conservation measures and minimal carbon emitting operations. The water heating systems in almost all Sri Lankan hotels are powered by solar energy. The island has also invested in wind energy which is environmental friendly, hotels towards the south rely prominently on wind energy for their operations requirements. In recognition to this hotel Sigiriya was awarded for its energy conservation measures in year 2008 Virgin holidays’ tourism awards.
The ‘trees for life’ environmental conservation programme by Galle municipality has received a major boost from the hotel industry. This programme is involved in reforestation, carbon emissions recovery, climate change awareness campaigns wildlife rescue. Major hotels like Ramanda resort, Neptune hotel and Palm garden hotel have financially supported this venture as part of corporate social responsibility that guards their present and future interests. The vision of making Galle a rain forest city in the world is due to benefit the tourism sector in future. This vision has earned support of tourism guide companies and massage parlours.
Hotel waste management has also been an area of attention in mitigating climate change effects. Several Sri Lanka hotel chains are investing in material Recycling units to reduce wastes that pollute the environment. This efforts are being supplemented by a shift to biodegradables e.g. snacks wrappers. The Jetwing chain of hotels has established Jetwing Eternal Earth Project (JEEP).This is an environmental conservation venture that protects sea life by dealing with pollution. Hospitality industry forms a major membership of the earth lung community government programme.
The transport sector is the facilitator tourism in contrast; the delegates in Copenhagen climate change conference classified it among the major causes of climate change. Tourism in Sri Lanka depends mainly on air and road transport although there are motor boats that are used for leisure activities in the island. Travel firms have lived to the declaration of Davos declaration by seeking to reduce their carbon emissions. Large capacity vehicles are popular among transport firms in Sri Lanka.As the companies seek to reduce their cost of operation the large capacity cars emit less carbon to the environments.
The big potential of bio-fuel is yet to be fully exploited. Through government incentives, transport companies in Sri Lanka tourism sector are slowly embracing this fuel. There are several cab companies that have invested in bio-fuelled cabs. The tourism marketing edge of Sri Lanka is slowly shifting to its eco-friendly strength. In efforts to benefit from this transport companies are cautiously reducing the number of helicopter flights around the island which is a majorly appeals to retiree tourists in Sri Lanka. Environmental conservation programmes in different parts of Sri Lanka have been receiving major financial sponsorships from transport companies. The Dalle rain forest city vision is one such project that benefits from transport company sponsorships. The sector regulatory bodies only recognize companies that comply with the government guidelines on energy conservation. This sanction seems to rebrand quality transport service to mean eco-friendly service. Although there are debates on the success rate of encouraging tourists to opt for eco-friendly transport means, the transport sector in Sri lanka focus on this strength. The earth lung project aims at minimizing the ‘guilt’ of travelling by encouraging environmental friendly means of travel, Tourists are encouraged to act in a manner that will conserve the environment. The operations of motor boats in this island has raised concerns on the environmental safety of the sea frequent oil spillages threatens sea life thus limiting tourism. There is evidence that whales that attract tourists to southern regions of the island are fewer along the routes plied by motor boats. The debate is still unresolved whether this can be attributed to water pollution or noise pollution and general disturbances by the motor boats. The Sri Lankan Airlines has played a role in mitigation apart from sponsoring earth lung projects; the carrier has launched low carbon emission flights that have since become popular among many tourists
Tourist games like fishing for pleasure are also subject to discussion on their rank in the eco-friendly bar. Another source of concern is the effects of chemicals from rice fields and their effects on wildlife.
Non-governmental organizations have been a major player in Sri-lanka’s effort to cope with climatic changes. One of the recommendations of Dovas declaration was about new technology application in mitigating climate change. There are several non-governmental organizations that operate in Sri lank supplementing the earth lung project, Rotary international has been involved in the ‘tree for life’ that aims at reducing carbon emissions through afforestation. The Rainforest Rescue International has been funding environmental conservation measures in compliance with the declaration. The Ngo is about conservation, restoration and stewardship. In Galle rain forest city project the Rainforest Rescue International created awareness among the residents on the threats posed to tourism by global warming and the boosts the sector will gain after forest cover restoration. The school environment brigade has been involved in aforestation programmes aim at a carbon free Sri lanka.Their campaign ’Clean Sri lanka’ have facilitated planting of over a million trees.
Indirect beneficiaries of Sri lanka tourism have also been involved in climatic changes mitigation.The government’s commitment to Dowa declaration has encouraged private firms like Cargills- a supermarket chain to get involved in environmental issues. The supermarkets which are mainly located in tourist destinations have been sponsoring the ‘Going Green’ initiative. This project has achieved progress in reducing sea pollution.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has also been instrumental in supporting mitigation efforts. The chamber has been involved on Global compact programme that aims at energy saving.The Rotary ‘Green Cover’10 million trees programme is also a contributor to mitigating the effects of climate change.
The Dowa declaration has offered a base for policy formulation in regard to the millennium development goals. The economic viability of tourism is enough justification for countries engaging in climate change mitigation programmes. However, compliance to the declaration faces several challenges; the statistics that show how the climate change threatens tourism has been accused of being flawed in addition the argument that global warming is a fad used to fight world economic wars. Nevertheless, the sustainability and gains from Sri Lankan earth lung model will soon emphasize the essence of eco-friendly tourism. This will justify ‘Ayubowan’ –a Sri Lankan word for a long life blessing.
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