Assessing Potential Economic Impact of Oil Spill on the Tourism Industry of The Gambia
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Research
The consumption of oil and gas has increased significantly over the years (British Petroleum 2017). The increase in oil and gas consumption is directly related to the increase in World’s marine traffic and exploration activities in deepwater environments. Therefore, an increase in the risk of accidental oil spills from exploration activities, tanker collision and/or sinking of oil tankers in bad weathers conditions (Zafirakou 2018) and deliberate acts as in the recent attacks on two shipping oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman (Sanchez 2019). Oil spill incidents have a detrimental impact on environment, social and economic activities of affected areas which may persist for years. For example, the most recent oil spill from a tanker in the Solomon Islands threatens a fragile UNESCO World Heritage site, interrupts economic activities of the locals whose livelihood depends on the marine and marine life (Williams 2019). Also, the Gulf of Mexico’s oil spill in 2010 interrupted about 7.3 million businesses, affecting 34.3 million employees and resulting to a reduction of $5.2 trillion in sales volume and just under $ 2 billion in tourism-related claim in affected areas (Ritchie et al. 2014; Nadeau et al. 2014; Oxford Economics 2011).
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To assess the extent of the potential economic impact of oil spill on tourism, it is vital to determine where the oil slicks will go; that is if the slicks will reach the shoreline or not. after the spill. For this reason, predicting oil spill trajectory offshore Gambia is fundamental in this study. Oil spill models are developed and used as part of project approval requirements as per Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) studies and to predict the trajectory and evolution of oil slicks after accidental oil spills in a marine environment to help enhance effective response efforts (Abascal et al. 2017).
To develop oil spill trajectory models, it is essential to understand the processes influencing slick transport which can be complex. The movement of oil slicks on water is affected by spreading and advection processes (French-McCay et al. 2017, NOAA 2002). The processes during transportation inhibit or enhance the efficiency of oil movement, which makes oil spill modelling complex. Studies by Fay (1971), Lehr et al. (1984), Guo et al. (2009) and Afenyo, Veitch and Khan (2016) indicates that winds, surface water currents, water temperature and large-scale turbulence (mixing) are spreading and advection mechanisms that affect how quickly and the distance oil slicks are transported in an open ocean. There are uncertainties in developing oil trajectory such as accuracy and dependability of models used (Guze, Kołowrocki and Mazurek 2017). Determining and acknowledging potential uncertainties in oil spill trajectory simulations enhances modeller and response team’s ability to make appropriate spill forecast and decisions (French-McCay et al. 2017).
Available literature showed that there are documents on oil spill contingency plan (NDMA 2011) and EIA for offshore exploration in The Gambia (LaPierre et al. 2006). However, there is no evidence of studies on potential economic impacts oil spills on marine dependent activities of the Gambia. Hence, the concern of lack of in-depth understanding of the economic impacts of potential oil spills on The Gambia necessitates this study focusing on the tourism industry.
1.2 Problem Statement and Research Justification
In 2008, the Gam-Petroleum Gambia Co. Ltd inaugurated a fuel storage facility located on the banks of the River Gambia in Mandinari Village. This facility has 17 fuel storage tanks with a combined capacity of 51,000 metric tonnes of heavy and light fuel oils. In 2018, FAR Limited has spudded the first exploration well offshore Gambia (FAR Limited 2018). Also, in 2019, British Petroleum, BP signed a petroleum license for Block A1 with the government of The Gambia to explore crude oil its offshore (Saine 2019). All these developments resulted and/or will result to an increase in traffic of vessels and exploration activities in the waters of the Gambia to supply fuels for storage, refuelling and bunkering for vessels en-route to other parts of the World. Therefore, an increase in the risk of oil spill from exploration and tanker activities such as drilling, transportation, offloading and bunkering.
The Gambia is a famous tourist destination for most European countries and travel & tourism is an important economic activity of The Gambia (Mitchell and Faal 2007; Rid, Ezeuduji and Pröbstl-Haider 2014). According to research by World Travel and Tourism Council, WTTC (2018) on the economic impacts of Travel and Tourism; tourism industry contributes 21.3% of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides 17.2% of total employment of The Gambia. Despite tourism industry’s resilience to disasters like oil spill incidents, the economic implications can be enormous (Ritchie et al. 2014; WTTC 2018) because tourists are unwilling to travel to affected destinations. For these reasons, it is important to assess the potential economic impact of oil spill on the tourism industry in The Gambia.
The findings of this study will enable all stakeholders to understand the potential economic impact of oil spill on tourism by estimating loss revenues and employment as a result of oil spill offshore Gambia.
1.3 Study Aim and Objectives
The primary aim of this study is to assess the potential economic impact of oil spill on the tourism industry of The Gambia. To achieve this, it is important to determine where the spilt oil slicks will go; hence this study also forecasts oil spill trajectory in offshore Gambia. To achieve this aim, the study focuses on the following specific objectives:
- To forecast and analyze oil slicks trajectories in The Gambian offshore waters.
- To assess the scale potential economic impact of oil spill on the tourism industry of The Gambia.
- To assess the duration of oil spill impact on the tourism industry of The Gambia
- To give recommendations as to how to minimize the economic impact in the event of an oil spill incident.
1.4 Research Questions
This study is focused on addressing the following research questions:
- Where will the oil slicks likely go after oil spill incident in the offshore Gambia?
- What is the potential economic impact of oil spill on the tourism industry of The Gambia?
- How long will the potential oil spill impact tourism sector of The Gambia?
- How can the impact of oil spill on tourism sector be minimized?
1.5 Study Scope and Limitations
This study is intended to assess the potential economic impact of oil spill on the tourism industry of The Gambia relying purely on secondary data obtained from the World Travel and Tourism Council database. Generally, oil spill modelling involves oil spill trajectory and fate. However, oil spill fate simulation is excluded since no spill response strategy is considered in this study. No fieldwork or surveys were carried out in this study; hence the credibility of the data cannot be verified. The data available is limited only to the contribution of tourism to Gambia’s GDP and employment. hence this study will limit its focus on the likely impact of oil spill on tourism industry of The Gambia.
1.6 Outline of the Study
This study is presented in five chapters with the details of what is covered in each section as shown in appendix A.
1.7 Ethical Consideration and Risk Assessment
There is no potential ethical and/or health and safety issues involved in this study as all the data/information are published (available online and/or to the public). An online ethics form is completed and approved by the supervisor.
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Figure 1: Representation of study outline.
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