Climate change, a phenomenon difficult to see every day but in a global expansion not as slow as might be supposed has entered to stay on the international tourist agenda.
The planet proliferation of excessive thawing of the poles, the increase of the power of the tropical hurricanes, the droughts of years and the penetrations of the sea in islands are powerful pressures that the tourism industry has today.
That’s why the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Zurab Pololikashvili, called for the tourism sector to take more action to combat climate change and biodiversity loss during the 30th joint meeting of its Commissions for South Asia and Asia-Pacific in Fiji.
Experts in the conference advocated for stronger partnerships and incentives for governments, businesses and crucially tourists themselves to make a difference in climate action efforts.
The generally accepted opinion is that sound policies must be built upon accurate evidence, requiring the tourism sector to better measure its impact on sustainability, according to Pololikashvili.
The remarks were made as part of a regional seminar on how tourism impacts upon sustainable development efforts in the region and globally, held as part of the meeting in the Fijian city of Nadi.
This was the first Joint Commission meeting held in a Pacific island nation.
Those attending the conference probably only had to lean out of the headquarters windows to understand that combating climate change is vital.
Fiji has been a long time for worldwide tourism an archipelago of 333 sun-kissed, picture perfect islands tucked away in the South Pacific, close to Australia and New Zealand full of affordable accommodation all the way through to exclusive 5 star resorts or even a private island all to yourself.
The riddle is how to keep things that way in the paradisiacal islands in the midst of the changing climate.
A good example of the climatic enemy that faces the tourism industry is what happened in the Fiji’s remote village of Tukuraki in the highlands of the Ba Province There was destroyed more than 5 years ago by a landslide which tragically took the lives of a young family. More than 80 per cent of the village was decimated and as a result the community were forced to evacuate their traditional land, at risk of further landslides.
The community have been living in makeshift and temporary homes since and during this time were again struck by disaster when Category 4 Cyclone Evan slammed into them in December 2012 followed by the most severe cyclone in Fiji’s history, Cyclone Winston, in 2016.
As a result pf a program called Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific Project the new village of Tukuraki was built to disaster safety standards designed to withstand Category 5 cyclones.
Climate change and climate disaster related events is a today reality for many in the Pacific with many being forced to relocate or consider the need to move off their land as a result of changing weather patterns.