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Travel matters. It helps us relax, discover new things about the world and ourselves, grow, and connect. Likewise, it is an important element of the global economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed not only our travel plans but how we approach the whole tourism industry.

Due to the current situation, what we have in our hands is the opportunity to reflect on the relationship between climate change, tourism, and our actions. This three-part article is about how we can start traveling better when these hard times are over.

How is the relationship between tourism and climate change affecting the planet?

“Coronavirus dominates the news, but one doesn’t have to look very far to see people making connections between the current emergency and the climate emergency.” Shares Responsible Tourism on its social media channels. In this vein, we can see how tourism can be so many things, but we tend to forget that while it is highly vulnerable to climate change, it also contributes to its development.

Climate Change and Transport -related carbon emissions

Firstly, we most point towards to the most basic element of this equation: transportation. Travel involves moving from point A to point B, a movement that produces carbon dioxide. Because of this, according to the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, it is expected that “by 2030, transport-related emissions from tourism will comprise 5.3 percent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions”.

However, things are never black and white. Tourism can have environmental benefits such as wildlife poaching in Africa and contributing to a more connected, globally inclusive community. As well, given our sector’s role in climate change its important that we start taking action towards the betterment of the situation. It is up to our actions as a community of travelers and service providers to push our industry into its most positive version.

Biodiversity loss

Among one of the main reasons for leisure travel is the attractiveness of the local Biodiversity. Think about scuba diving, wildlife watching, and crystalline oceans. Not to mention that all tourism, relies on natural resources for supplies of food, clean water, and other “ecosystem services” that depend on biodiversity.

Nevertheless, as much as it benefits from it, tourism also creates pressure on biodiversity and natural habitats. Increased travel opportunities and lower travel costs have pushed towards the conversion of lands for human use and to the introduction of animal and plant species and diseases from one place to another.

Biodiversity, monkey, eco tourism, travel, animals

Climate change can be observed in different local changes, such as an increase in the severity and frequency of storms, diseases, and heatwaves. We can observe this in shorter ski seasons, bleaching of coral reefs, heavy rains, and tornados which lead to damage to beaches and islands. 

Therefore, multiple agreements and initiatives have been born to reverse the decline in biodiversity through guidance and practical action. Among other things, they highlight the importance of measuring and integrating the economic value of biodiversity into policies and decision-making, and of managing biodiversity resources sustainably, so they maintain and enhance ecosystem services.

In uncertain times we most look up to the future of tourism as a holistic entity. Not just as a one-way source of relaxation or economic potential. If there is something that the pandemic is showing us is that resilience begins with looking ahead. How do we propose to build a more resilient, stronger, holistic tourism? Through SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL. The key is not to stop traveling, but to learn how to travel better.

THIS IS SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL | A NEW KIND OF TRAVEL

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