cambio-climaticoIn our continuing series on eco-tourism, this month we will take a look at how climate change affects tourism. There seems to be no doubt that our earth’s climate is changing. This will have some obvious effects on tourism worldwide: if temperatures climb in the Mediterranean in the summertime, tourists will stay away. Less cloud cover in Australia could result in a higher skin cancer risk. Malaria could re-emerge as a problem in Spain. There could be shorter skiing seasons in Europe. Caribbean islands could become more prone to hurricanes. Forest fires destroy infrastructure. Dengue fever spreads to higher elevations.

While this sounds like the beginning of the end, what could take place, in fact, is a shift in tourism patterns over time. Perhaps visitors would go to the Mediterranean in the winter, and visit ski areas in the summer. New activities would be developed accordingly.

What does climate change mean for México’s tourism industry? Certainly less cloud cover and higher temperatures could cause similar problems to those mentioned above. People need to be more aware of these risks, and be more vigilant with the use of sunscreen. Tour operators will need to respond with more outdoor activities during the cooler morning and evening hours, and provide more indoor activities during the middle of the day.

According to a recent study, climate change alone could trigger a global coral extinction by 2100 because carbon emissions warm oceans and make them more acidic. This would have disastrous effects on the diving industry. However, because pollution, for example, could also threaten coral reefs, the solution is twofold: reduce carbon emissions and tackle pollution issues.  Inappropriate garbage disposal in México is a big problem and needs to be addressed with education and new technology. As a visitor, you can do your part by always disposing of your trash appropriately.

Changing world temperatures also affects migration patterns. The Monarch butterflies in central México could be adversely affected. This unique phenomenon is worth saving! We must pay attention to the experts who are telling us how to curb climate change.

Mexico City´s air pollution problem certainly could reduce the number of visitors there. With this in mind, and the health of its residents at stake, in 2008 the city began a program of green rooftops. The smog-choked metropolis plans to replace gas tanks, clotheslines and asphalt on 100,000 square feet (9,300 square meters) of publicly owned roof space each year with grass and bushes that will absorb carbon dioxide. The city also plans to offer tax breaks for businesses or individuals who put gardens on top of their offices and apartment buildings.

To make it even more complicated, the problem faced by the tourism industry is really twofold: Not only is tourism seriously affected by climate change, it is also one of the main contributors to the problem. Airplanes’ consumption of fossil fuels, and resulting greenhouse gas emissions, have an immense negative impact. The search for alternative energy sources has never been more urgent.


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