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The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre issued an urgent call to action on emerging global disruptions that may potentially affect the tourism industry worldwide. The call to action was initiated by the co-chair of the center, the Hon. Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, Edmund Barlett.
The Co-chair issued this emergency statement today:
The horrific infernos that have been ravaging states across Australia since September 2019 are just the latest in a series of extreme and unprecedented weather patterns that have been afflicting various regions of the world in recent years. Indeed, all across the world climatic conditions have been deviating from their historical norms.
The phenomenon known as climate change has shown that it will continue to be the main existential threat to global peace and stability in this millennium. The United Nations Convention on Climate Change states that climate change effects such as wildfires, sea-level rise, droughts or floods will increasingly put a burden on countries’ economies with costs currently running into billions of dollars each year.
The global cost of climate change inaction is projected to rise to USD 54 trillion by 2054 according to a recent report released by Morgan Stanley. Rising seas and greater storm surges could force hundreds of millions of people from their homes in coastal cities, with a total cost to coastal urban areas of more than $1 trillion each year by 2050. Additionally, the global economy is expected to shrink by 7 percent by 2100 if the current pace of climate change is not reversed.
Specific climate-vulnerable regions will be even harder hit. The tourism-dependent Caribbean is projected to lose 22 percent of its total GDP by 2100 with some of the smaller islands likely to lose between 75 to 100 % of GDP while the Pacific is projected to lose 12.7% of annual GDP equivalent by 2100.
Tourism is one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change. Researchers from the University of Waterloo have identified the highest levels of climate change vulnerability in regions that heavily invest in tourism and where tourism growth is expected to be the strongest. With less attractive climate, tourist arrivals are expected to fall in these regions along with their contribution to local and national economies. This could trigger a severe and unprecedented humanitarian crisis as a result. The only safeguard against the imminent threat posed by intensifying climate change is accelerated levels of investments in adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Without mitigation and adaptation policies, many countries are likely to experience sustained temperature increases relative to historical norms and suffer major income losses as a result. This holds for both rich and poor countries as well as hot and cold regions. At the same time, the Global Commission on Adaptation has found that the overall rate of return on investments in improved resilience is very high, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1, and in some cases even higher.
Specifically, their research found that investing $1.8 trillion globally in five areas from 2020 to 2030 could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits. These five areas are early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection, and investments in making water resources more resilient. Disseminating reliable storm information just one day in advance, for example, can cut resulting damage by 30%, according to the report; an investment of $800 million might avoid up to $16 billion in annual costs.
Current forecast models predict that the earth’s surface will continue to warm at a rapid pace thus underscoring the urgency of mitigation. Beyond the climate change threat, the global tourism sector also has to now confront other threats that have been exacerbated due to recent events. Among these are the uncertainties of continental air travel due to political instability particularly in the Middle East; worsening energy volatility; the heightened threat of cybercrimes and the potential for epidemics and pandemics. The world must now respond to these multi-faceted disruptive threats with greater resolve than that which inspired the Sustainable Development Agenda and past climate change initiatives.
The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre located at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus along with its satellite centers located in Africa and Asia have been driving a new discourse on resilience building, particularly among highly tourism-dependent countries.
One practical approach to improving collective advocacy and action towards building resilience that we are encouraging is the establishment of a Global Resilience Fund to support vulnerable countries to enhance capacity to mitigate risks as well as to quickly recover following disruptive events. More than ever before, private corporations, governmental and non-governmental organizations and civil societies at all levels are being called upon to support this initiative by leveraging their collective strengths and resources to fortify a global economy facing a potentially existential crisis.
This is a call to action.
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