Tourism and climate change risks : opportunities and constraints in South Africa

Reddy, Melissa
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Global climate change, often referred to as „global warming‟ is possibly one of the most serious environmental challenges facing the world this century (DEAT, 2004; IPCC, 2007). There have been several studies (e.g. Viner and Agnew, 1999; Higham and Hall, 2005; IPCC, 2007; Midgley et al., 2008) on the potential impacts of climate change on the tourism sector and the likely effects are shown to be extremely wide ranging and may have far-reaching consequences for the tourism sector in many regions and areas of the world. From a review of the literature it was evident that there was limited literature on the response to climate change by the tourism industry in terms of mitigation, adaptation and long- term strategic planning to manage future anticipated climate change impacts. Given this background, this research explores the tourism industry with regard to game and nature reserves in South Africa and probes the perceptions of climate change amongst park managers and tourism operators to understand their awareness regarding the projected impacts of climate change. Mitigation and adaptation strategies that were in place or being developed in the management of the game and nature reserves are identified and examined. Challenges that were experienced by the tourism managers/operators in promoting effective mitigation and adaptation strategies in the nature based tourism sector in South Africa are highlighted and discussed and recommendations are provided. Purposeful sampling was employed in the research and the stakeholders were identified according to their important roles in the South African Tourism Industry with regard to game and nature reserve management. These included the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, South African National Parks (SANParks), South African National Botanical Institute (SANBI) and the Provincial Park Managers which comprises the Eastern Cape Parks, Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Limpopo Tourism and Parks Board, Mpumalanga Parks Board, North West Parks and Tourism Board and Cape Nature. The research data was collected using open-ended questionnaires and interviews with the stakeholders. Results of this research showed that there was a basic understanding of climate change and its associated impacts on tourism consistent with what is being established in the scientific literature. Despite this awareness among relevant stakeholders, there was however not much formal long-term strategic planning or mitigation and adaptation plans in place to manage or „manage‟ the suggested projected impacts of climate change on the tourism industry. The research results also highlighted many challenges experienced by the nature- based tourism sector.
M.Sc., Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand, 2011
Tourism, environmental aspects, Climatic changes, environmental aspects, Environmental sciences