Saturday, January 29, 2011

Climate change and tourism in Cyprus

Theodore Panayotou in the Cyprus Mail: Global tourism profoundly affects, and is being affected by climate change and hence the tourism industry is a major stakeholder in global mitigation and adaptation efforts. Cyprus tourism is no exception. On the contrary, the mutually detrimental impacts are likely to be more pronounced in Cyprus than in many other parts of the world.

The over-reliance on fossil fuels for electricity and on the private car for transportation results in high carbon emissions per tourist. Cyprus being an island with an already hot and semi-arid climate is likely to experience more pronounced impacts from climate change than, say, other parts of Europe.

With higher temperatures the demand for energy and water will increase while low-lying areas of the coast might be lost to sea level rise along with coastal tourism infrastructure. Extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, storms and hurricanes may also increase in frequency and severity and the range of tropical disease vectors may expand north to the sub-tropical zone of the Mediterranean.

…How should the industry respond? First of all, not all types of tourism have the same environmental footprint nor are they equally vulnerable to climate change. Mass tourism of the sun-sand-and-sea variety has the greatest environmental footprint per euro of income earned. It is also the most vulnerable to climate change and the consequent sea-level rise, extreme weather events, carbon taxes, rising energy costs, and water scarcity. Not only is the resource-base of the mass (coastal) tourism, such as beaches and coastal infrastructure, more vulnerable than other types of tourism, such as experiential and special purpose tourism, but mass tourism tends also to be more price sensitive and less able to absorb the rising costs of travel, energy, insurance and adaptation brought about by climate change….

Southeast side of the Ancient Roman theatre in Kourion, Cyprus. Shot by Wknight94 talk, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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