Climate change and Pakistan

(Habiba Ikram, Lahore)

Effects of climate change on travel and tour business

Climate change is one of the most concerned topics in today’s world which is deteriorating environment rapidly and affecting people socially and economically. In this economic sector tourism is also one of those industries which is getting hugely affected by climate change. In 2016 tourism and travel industry contributes 10.2% of world's GDP. The climate changes have directly or indirectly affected travel and tour industry as a tourist's destination choice and time of travel widely depends upon the climate conditions or air quality of that country. The tourism industry can be classified into the various groups, depending upon the physical and biological environmental features. Tourism has been classified as Mountain and Snow tourism; Forest and Biodiversity tourism; Cities and Urban Centre tourism; and Ocean and Sea life tourism based on geographical location and physical characteristic. Extreme weather conditions due to climate change like floods, droughts, intense heat waves, polluted air and other infectious diseases can affect the tourist activities and their health is also at stake. There are also some current examples where a major decline is being observed due to climate change like Taiwan known for its national parks can observe a decline in tourism due to irregularities in rainfall pattern. Iran is also facing same problem due to rising temperature cause intense heat waves and water unavailability for tourists. Austri is also concerned about the altering of seasonal snow depth cover, resulting in limited ski tourism by shortening the ski season.

Impacts of climate change on major types of tourism:

Mountain and Snow Tourism:

Mountain tourism is one of the most popular tourism especially among the urban life people because of the natural landscapes, peaceful and soothing view. For example, Himalayan range which is spread in more than 3 countries offers various experience with communities of different cultures and religions. Also, mountain sports such as hiking, camping, and canoeing are major activities for the visitors. These activities are the major source for those local to generate their income through stay points, hotels, sports business, and food, thus helping in creating jobs. In mountain ranges there can be serious impacts on tourism due to temperature rise. For example, in Himalayan there is recorded a temperature rise from 0.06 C to 0.27 c per year causing melting of glaciers, increased pests, changes in precipitation and shifting seasons. This also lead to decrease in crops yield.

Beach and Coastal Tourism:

The coastal area is comprised of forests, mangroves, savannas, salt marshes, shrubs, barrier islands, estuaries, sand dunes and coastal habitats. And this is the reason that 40% of human population lives within 60km of coastal areas making it one of the most popular tourist destinations and a major income source and a contributor in economy for small island nations. Due to climate change there is observed to be a rise in sea level and change in shorelines and coastal areas causing damage to biodiversity and habitat destruction. According to a recent study, 84% of an Island in India has been reduced and inundated by sea water, and is predicted to be completely submerged by 2022. Such situation makes tourists doubtful about choosing their destination but infact also forces locals to migrate thus affecting the economy of country.

Forest and Biodiversity Tourism:

Forests have always been a popular tourist destination because the peace and its natural beauty provides a therapy for stress so also good for human health and as a result draws attention of tourists from all over the world thus proving as a main contributor in revenue generation. Because of threat of sea water inundation of forests and frequent storms and floods due to climate change affecting the bi- diversity in forests and their habitat. Also long forest fires is also a threat to human life, thus causing a major loss in tourist inflow and to economy.

Cities and Urban Centre Tourism:

Advancement in technology, ease of travel through faster transportation, iconic building designs, landmarks and modern market designs in the form of malls, provide cities distinctive tourist destination. But in recent years due to climate change, there has been an intense heat wave, rise in temperature and smog in the air which makes tourists doubtful in selecting their tour destination considering the impacts of that pollution on their heath. The recent example is Lahore and Delhi where highest smog level is recorded in these years. Also due to change in weather patterns, there are other infectious diseases also bursting like dengue. This results in less tourist inflow and decrease in revenue generation.

Ocean and Sea Life Tourism:

The oceans comprise 70% of the earth’s surface and have a wide range of biodiversity, which makes them distinctive for leisure activities such as watching wildlife. This marine biodiversity and activities to explore them like cruising, sailing and diving helps in attracting tourists and generating income for the local as a result stabilizing economy of the country. The increasing temperature and high co2 level in air is causing acidification of water resulting in destruction of marine life and their habitat. This is the reason that coral reefs are near to extinction. Due to climate change, salt concentration of sea water is changing causing sea water intrusion. In this phenomenon organisms bound their habitat and are more exposed to predators resulting in decline of their population and loss in biodiversity of marine life. This diminishes the tourist attraction and decreases the revenue generated by sea life tourism.

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