Friday, June 22, 2012

Climate change threatens Botswana's main tourist attraction

Justice Kavahematui in Botswana urgently needs policies to facilitate climate change adaptation to protect the Okavango Delta, the country's most lucrative tourist attraction, according to a new study.   Recent statistics from the Bank of Botswana show that tourism is the country's second largest source of income, contributing US$753 million to GDP in 2011. The Delta is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to the country.

Wame L. Hambira, from the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Botswana in Gaborone, warned that unless government policies take account of current and forecasted climate shifts, the tourism sector could be badly damaged, with serious implications for the wider economy. Hambira's findings appeared in a study published in the International Journal of Tourism Policy [1].

The Okavango Delta is home to many plant and animal species. Tourism activities conducted there include safaris, bird-watching, traditional canoeing, photography tours and camping expeditions. The delta is also used by local communities for water, fishing,  agriculture, and the production of cultural artefacts such as baskets and beads, Hambira told SciDev.Net.

But the distribution of water channels and flooding patterns are shifting, she said.   Such shifts, and threats posed by climate change — including a predicted drop in total annual rainfall, especially in the north where the delta is located — are not adequately addressed by Botswana's current tourism and environmental policies, Hambira told SciDev.Net....

An aerial view of the Okavango River delta in Botswana by Joachim Huber, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license 

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