The tourism industry needs to recognise the importance of climate change and other environmental issues in its future development, says a climate change expert.
Fiji Institute of Technology’s Dr Mahendra Kumar said the industry needs to do a lot more to change its image as one contributes to climate change and environmental degradation.
“The carbon footprint of the tourism industry is very high, and for a country like Fiji where visitors travel long distances by air and cruise ships, it is even higher,” said Dr kumar.
“Tourism faces a diabolical problem. It is likely to be seriously impacted by impacts of climate change such as higher temperatures, variable rainfalls and increased intensities and frequencies of extreme events such as cyclones, floods, storm surges and coastal degradation.
“Since the majority of the tourism industry is located in coastal areas, the tourism sector is likely to face the brunt as far as impacts of climate change is concerned,” he added.
The tourism industry needs to act positively to advertise itself as environmentally conscious, carbon neutral and not exacerbating the problem, he said. “There are some good examples of resorts using alternative sources of energy (non fossil fuel), educating tourists on the use of resources, restricting visits to places which are particularly vulnerable to the impacts.”
Tourism Fiji chairman Patrick Wong said the industry was turning to renewable energy technology.