Climate change mitigation in the tourism sector
An excerpt from the UNEP Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in the Tourism Sector.
Tourists are traveling more often and to more distant destinations, using more energy-intensive, fossil fuel-based transport and the sector’s greenhouse gas (GHG) contribution has increased to 5 percent of global emissions. Other unsustainable practices, such as excessive water use, waste generation, and habitat encroachment are threatening ecosystems, biodiversity, and local culture.
But if done right, tourism can be a positive force for both the local economy and the environment. Sustainable Tourism aims to reduce poverty by creating local jobs and stimulating local business, while establishing ecologically sustainable practices that preserve resources and reduce pollution. Currently, only a minimal of tourism profits touches the people living in and near tourist destinations. Increasing local involvement can not only generate income but also encourage communities to protect their environment.
Investing in energy efficiency and waste management can reduce GHG emissions and pollution and also save hotel owners and service providers money. Under the right circumstances, natural areas, biodiversity, and cultural heritage—three of the main reasons people travel in the first place—can all reap the benefits of sustainable tourism.
The sustainability of coastal tourism destinations depends partly on their ability to adapt planning and management practices to the impacts of climate change and also to increase their ability to reduce disaster risks.
Climate Change Mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing management practices or consumer behavior. Protecting natural carbon sinks like forests and oceans, or creating new sinks through silviculture or green agriculture are also elements of mitigation.
Mitigation by the Tourism sector can be achieved by reducing energy use, through changing travel behavior, by improving energy efficiency, increasing the use of renewable energy, carbon offsetting strategies, sustainable destination planning and management, tour operators’ choice of destinations and packaging of travel products, as well as other changes in business practices.
A number of studies present strategies available for increasing the effectiveness of mitigation activities in relation to tourism and climate change. Best practices from case studies for different stakeholders and local context have been formed as a guide to mitigation tools, covering techniques, policies and measures in various scenarios. Various mitigation strategies in the transportation and accommodation sectors as well as for tour operators, consumers and destinations have long been available and should be implemented.
The overall objective of climate change mitigation strategies, policies and activities in the tourism sector is to contribute to the achievement of “carbon neutrality” in the sector. For hospitality and tourism establishments, “carbon neutrality” can be defined as a set of policies that it uses when it estimates its known greenhouse gas emissions, takes measures to reduce them, and purchases carbon offsets to “neutralize” those emissions that remain. Carbon neutrality signifies an establishment that has a zero net contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. This includes all activities directly controlled by the company, including travel, purchasing of goods and services, and daily behavior of staff. Carbon neutrality can be achieved by improving the way the organization operates (e.g. through “green” procurement), by improving efficiency of operations (e.g. communications and meetings) and equipment (e.g. vehicle transport and building). Carbon neutrality also recognizes offsetting as an option (last resort) to achieve full neutrality.
The Tourism Sector is composed of a wide range of businesses, from small, local operations that service a single local market to very large transport, hotel and tour operator companies that serve global markets across entire regions and which sell or facilitate millions or tens of millions of tour packages to foreign destinations each year. The industry provides tourists with products and services such as accommodation, transport, food and drink, attractions to visit, and souvenirs to purchase.
It is clear that the industry shapes demand through its marketing strategies, but consumers (tourists) ultimately make the final choices. Recognizing that tourists have an important role in creating business interest in sustainable tourism products, the sector must consider mitigation options and should be increasingly proactive in addressing climate change.
Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SST offers Training, Capacity Building, Educational programs, Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities; Private stakeholders – Hotels, Resorts, Hospitality, Tour Operators and Businesses with Green Destinations, Global Leaders Program and Green Travel Guide capacity building and solutions to include Environmental Conservation and Compliance, Good Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience for the local host community. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other green destinations solutions and innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.
The Boracay Initiative beckons – a serious call for conservation
We know the problems, we know the solutions. Sustainable development. The issue is the political will. ~ Ex PM Tony Blair
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. I first went to Boracay Island, Philippines (voted as one of the best beaches in the world) in the late 80’s and we had a most fantastic experience in paradise. We travelled in the typhoon season; there were no air-conditioned buses for the long, dusty and grueling overland ride with the locals and chickens alike; no jetty port – we had to wade in shallow waters to board a motorized small banca,across the strait in rough waters. Boracay was not affected by typhoons then, however during this this season called the Habagat, southwest monsoon winds, we had to land on the other side of the island (Bulabog) and hike all the way to our resort located on White Beach, our luggage, transported by a water buffalo-pulled cart. There was no electricity, no air-conditioning and no hot water showers in those days, but our stay was pure and simple pleasure. We had the time of our life!
WORK AT WHITE BEACH. Little did I imagine that just after two years, I would return to the island and work for one of the pioneer resorts, and stayed further on for 10 years to manage two small properties, tour operations and transport company. Within this period, I also handled three small airline companies that serviced Caticlan, two were defunct and the ultimate one was Seair, which I had to persuade convincingly to fly there. The rest is history.
PARADISE LOST- WELL, ALMOST. I left Boracay in 2001 after 10 years of working there as I felt that it was excessively crowded, over-developed in a destructive sense and regrettably deteriorating due to lack of Eco-balance. I ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Returning exactly 21 years since I first came, with over 500 hundred resorts of all shapes, sizes and prices, there is hardly a trace of the pristine, peaceful and perfect paradise that I first saw. It is just chaotic congestion of lodgings, restaurants, bars, stores crowding with vans and tricycles, with no regard for proper zoning, maximum carrying capacity policies, no conservation value for natural environment, nor ecological protection not to mention, it ranks high in climate change risk, most especially on White Beach’s spectacular shoreline.
FULL CIRCLE. It is perhaps the hands of fate that made me return to Boracay in 2010, as a Guest Speaker at Events Asia 2010 and as luck would have it, talk about Sustainable Events Management. With my experience at Inkaterra, Peru’s Eco pioneer and Conservation leader, I shared my knowledge and experience in sustainable tourism and environmental conservation. In 1975, Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists to study Peru’s rainforest long before eco tourism was trendy. With over 35 years of experience in sustainable tourism initiatives, it is the first to be carbon neutral in the country, doing reforestation projects in a total of 17,000 hectares in the Amazon and the Andes.
PLEDGE. After having seen the current deteriorated environmental status of the island, a framework for a new Boracay Conservation, Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development, was conceived for stakeholders and local host community.
THE BORACAY INITIATIVE®- A CALL FOR UNITY AND SUPPORT. The challenge is to espouse and implement The Boracay Initiative© (TBI) – an Environmental Conservation, Social Responsibility & Sustainable Tourism framework adapted from the UNWTO & Rainforest Alliance. TBI was presented to the island’s multi-stakeholders at the First Environmental Forum in 2010, organized with the cooperation of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources & Environmental Management Bureau -Region VI, Office of the Mayor of Malay, Aklan, Boracay Foundation & Petron Foundation. However, to date, both public and private stakeholders have not taken it up at all.
LESS CONVERSATION, IT’S TIME FOR ACTION. Fate brought me back to the island, which we have come to love and cherish, but it is high time for us to take action, less conversation! We must put all our efforts and resources to restore and conserve Boracay Island, its natural beauty and valuable coastal marine environement to provide sustainability, continued economic vitality and resilience for its stakeholders, the Philippines’ tourism industry and the future generations.
TBI was presented once again, to concerned citizens in the island, with the gracious hosting by Mandala Spa & Villas, multi-awarded Spa and ASEAN2012 Green Hotel winner. This time with the Society For Sustainable Tourism & Development, Inc. -SSTDI at the helm, TBI’s Sustainable Tourism, Conservation and Social Responsibility framework is designed to be implemented with the cooperation of both private and public sector of Boracay Island, with expert institutional partners Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels & The Clean Blue.
So, Boracay Island and the Philippines, when will you begin to espouse Sustainable Tourism? Conserve & protect the island/ 7,107 islands for the future generations?