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Can Sustainable Tourism Survive Climate Change?

D. Weaver
Published 2011 · Economics

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This opinion piece contends that tourism's expanding engagement with climate change, as it is currently unfolding, is not necessarily conducive to the interests of tourism sustainability. Inherent unpredictability, long-term timeframes, lack of directly tangible consequences or clearly identifiable villains, issues with credibility and vested interests and cost implications in an era of chronic economic uncertainty all combine to increase the likelihood of unsuccessful climate change policies and strategies. Additional complications arise within the tourism sector from the rudimentary state of knowledge about the relationships between the tourism and climate change, an apathetic and fickle travelling public and a reciprocally uncommitted tourism industry. I argue that adaptation is a rational business response to climate change that is not directly related to environmental and sociocultural sustainability, and that mitigation measures should be supported to the extent that they yield practical and tangible short- and medium-term benefits and address local sustainability issues such as air quality and biodiversity protection.
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