Over the last months, a selection of tourism, government and community leaders have developed over 40 potential tourism-focused climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies considering the impacts of climate change on Australian tourism (Australia’s Tourism, 2009). According to the CEO of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Daniel Gschwind, this latest research is essential in guiding climate change adaptation policies and business practices (Australia’s Tourism, 2009). Lately there have been several profound researches carried out on the potential impacts of climate change on Australian tourism. However, little research has been done on the potential solutions of these impacts. Practically every research on the impacts of climate change jumps to the conclusion that reducing global greenhouse emissions will be the solution to this problem. The question here arises if focusing solely on reducing greenhouse gases to save Australia’s tourism will not be a too simplistic view to solving this problem. 

Millions of dollars have been spent in the past on attracting visitors to come to Australia to experience its natural attractions (Adam, 2007). However, these natural attractions might not exist anymore in the future, due to climate change. Already Australia can experience the impacts of climate change. Due to a record-breaking heat wave last January 374 Australians lost their lives, another 173 Australians were killed in the firestorm in February and over 2000 homes were devastated (Climate change “security threat”, 2009). Current research shows that the climate system is changing faster than was expected, in fact, current trends are exceeding the worst-case scenarios of the UN’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (McAlpine & Ryan, 2009). Immediate action is thus required.

Without urgent action to reduce greenhouse emissions, Australia will suffer from higher temperatures, more droughts, rising sea levels and more extreme weather (Australian Government Department of Climate Change, 2009). Although I do not want to deny this need to reduce greenhouse emissions, policy makers should have a broader perspective towards solving the impacts of climate change on Australian tourism. Reducing greenhouse emissions is clearly necessary to minimise the impacts, but even then it is not guaranteed that the climate change will not affect the tourism business in Australia. Besides, reducing greenhouse emission involves the entire community, not only the policy makers. This makes it a complex solution, as it is hard to control the entire community. Moreover, the question remains if Australia will really succeed in reducing these emissions sufficiently to beat climate change.

Therefore the focus of policy makers should shift from investigating the impacts of climate change on Australian tourism and offering reducing greenhouse emissions as the sole solution, to investigating alternative solutions to the impacts of climate change. I do not want to suggest here that there is no use in investigating the impacts, but in order to cope with the impacts of climate change on Australian tourism when this phenomenon does really hit, it is necessary to have policies ready that will save Australian tourism.

There is a chance that the main natural attractions in Australia will no longer exist, or just partly exist, in the future. Therefore solutions need to be offered on how to keep attracting visitors without these current attractions being present. Destination development plans are necessary for new tourist attractions. Recent research shows the top half of Australia will be little affected by climate change, while the effects in the south of Australia will only get worse (Alexander, 2009). Therefore a possible solution to keep attracting tourists to Australia could be developing new tourist attractions in the northern part of the continent.

So, although good intentions, Australia needs to be realistic and see that solely reducing greenhouse emissions will not save their tourism economy. Even if they do succeed in reducing gas emissions, the question is if they succeed in time. One can never predict the future a hundred percent sure. Therefore it is crucial to investigate alternative solutions. If Australia will wait with developing alternative solutions until the impacts of climate change actually hit the continent in an extreme matter, it might already be too late to save Australia’s tourism.   

 

References

Adam, C (2007). Travel industry feels the heat [Electronic version]. Travel Weekly     Australia, 60, 6-6.

Alexander, C. (2009, January 19). Darwin a haven for climate refugees. Northern Territory    News. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from Lexis Nexis database.

Australian Government Department of Climate Change (2009, September 24). Carbon          pollution the problem. Kalgoorlie Miner. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from Lexis             Nexis database.

Australia’s tourism destinations tackle climate change. (2009, August 5). STCRC Press          Release. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from Leisure Tourism database.

Climate change an Australian ‘security threat’: report. (2009, August 11). Agence France       Presse. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from Lexis Nexis database.

McAlpine, C. & Ryan, J. (2009, February 18). We’ll hate a parched scorched country.         Canberra Times. Retrieved September 24, 2009, from Lexis Nexis database.