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Since now, Climate change, as a result of the increased greenhouse effect, that has damaged not only the environment but also the economy and security, is becoming an accepted threat for the planet. There is no doubt that it will have a significant impact on global tourism. As stated by Tourism NT (2009), in many destinations, there is a deep connection between tourism and the natural environment. To be specific, climate is one factor of regulating the length and quality of the tourism season and it is playing a crucial role in the choice of destination and tourist spending. Every destination in the world is affected by the climate change, also including Australia.
As the sixth largest country of the world, Australia has the greatest tourism market due to its popularity of outdoor holidays. The main destinations are the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains, and Tropical North Queensland. Tourism is one of the biggest industries in Australia. According to Ferguson (2010), in 2009, there were over 4 million tourists and the number of total tourist income had been reached to £32.8 billion.
Since that tourism is very vital for the economy in every country, so the purpose of this essay is to investigate how climate change influence Australian tourism and find out the government's effective decision to climate change. First this essay will provide an overview of climate trend in Australia and will analyse how climate change effect a highly vulnerable destination. Secondly it will focus on the impact of climate change on tourists. Finally it will discuss what the potential economic impacts are. The conclusion will point out the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on Australian tourism and recommend solutions.
The climate trend in Australia is unique.
Recently, because of geographical location, the climate of Australia is very changeful. Its weather is known to be highly variable. Viner and Agnew (1999) observed that the seasons of Australia is contrary to the northern hemisphere and "In the summer (November-February) there are tropical monsoons but winters (July-August) are dry". Meanwhile, a major global climate models report, which has researched the evolution of summer temperature for Australia, was showed that an average summer temperature will increase 1.5°C for the 2020s and will increase 3-4°C for the 2050s (Viner and Agnew, 1999). What is more, Viner and Agnew (1999) also pointed out that in some arid region of Australia, the temperature which is exceeding 50°C is experienced during the summer months as well as during the "pre-monsoon months in the north". These views and dates are very useful in that it has demonstrated a continuing warming trend would be experienced in Australian.
Impacts of climate change on the natural environment can be seen.
More and more studies are showing that Global greenhouse, caused by releasing a mass of CO2, is a challenge for any public due to the catalytic action of increasing temperatures. Obviously, it can bring a considerable number of damages on the natural ecosystems. One such study in 2006 discovered that warming is disrupting natural ecosystems such as coral reefs and "it is also raising sea levels" (Pearce, 2006). Consequently, it is a known fact that climate change also impact on the condition of the natural asset of Australia. One of these accomplished facts is the Great Barrier Reef (GBR).
As the world's most spectacular coral reef, the GBR is a most popular destination in Australia. In 2010, Wilson and Turton (2010 P233) stated that UNESCO has recognized the GBR as a World Heritage Site, but the GBR is also recognized as a "critical tourist destination under threat from anthropogenic induced climate change". According to Johnson and Marshall (in Wilson and Turton 2010 P237), it can be known clearly that climate change can impact the GBR on water temperature, ocean acidification and sea level. To be exact, firstly, the increase of sea temperature is the greatest threat for GBR. In 2008, Hennessy (in Wilson and Turton 2010 P238) pointed out that the number of average daily temperatures, reported by the IPPC, are seem to raise 0.6°C in 2020 based on emissions. And it will raise 1.6°C in 2050 as well. Therefore, the temperatures of sea surface are going to increase by a slight rate. Moreover, a mass releasing of CO2 could cause acidification of the ocean. About this, Wilson and Turton (2010 P237) analysed that "this will be catastrophic for the structure of the coral reefs when CO2 reaches about 500 ppmv". This observation is flawed because they do not give specific influence of this situation. Thus, it is not easy to imagine how increasing CO2 impact the quality of GBR. The third important variable that is caused by climate change is sea level. As mentioned by Smithers et al. (in Wilson and Turton 2010 P238), the sea level change will be inconsistent pass through the GBR, which will "influence the expansion of coral into submerged areas".
How climate change influences Australian tourists.
Around the world, climate change also has an important effect on tourists. The main effect of it is changing tourism consumer behaviour. According to Tourism NT (2009), in Australia, there are an increasing number of international and domestic travellers who are concerning about the environment and climate change. In particular, most of them are likely to choose a green travel in order to reduce influence of their activities. Obviously, the good news is an increasing awareness of the importance of protecting environment. What is more interesting is that, a UK company, named Travel Foundation, has "developed a training module to educate travel industry staff on what green travel is" (Tourism NT, 2009). In contrast, Wilson and Turton (2010 P236) found that climate change influences the quality of travel experience, including the timing of visits and length of stay. Take an example of GBR into this view, one study in 2010 discovered that "if coral is bleached then less people will want to go to the reef as it will not be attractive."(Wilson and Turton 2010 P243)
On the other hand, there is a strong belief among consumers that climate change is a threat for tourist health. Tourism NT (2009) pointed out that the temperature has been arrived at 35°C in Australia and the frequency of very hot days is rising. There is no doubt that increasing temperature will lead to a risk for traveller safety such as bark scorch and skin cancel. This view is very insightful because of Steiner's point. Steiner (2011) agreed with this view and stated that "thinning of the ozone layer would probably have led to a sharp increase in cases of skin cancer worldwide." But it is still incomplete in that the probability of this event's occurring is not proved.
Economic impacts of climate change on Australian tourism are potential.
Excepting impacts on natural environment and tourists, climate change is playing a significant role in Australian economy although its effect is potential. Firstly, this view seems to be proved by destruction of infrastructure. It is can be known that extreme weather events could damage infrastructure such as roads, bridge, and buildings which are also important for tourism. These events will lead to a mass of threat not only to tourists but also to government financial expenditure and income. There is no doubt that government could lose revenue from booking cancellations while they have to increase the cost of insurance. Both Tourism NT (2009) and Wilson and Turton (2010 P243) have shown that these extreme weather events such as cyclones and storm surges had caused high insurance premiums in Australia.
Additionally, according to Tourism NT (2009), the Australia Government is trying to carry out its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, but the public is affected by carbon taxes. Thus, the cost of electricity will be increased and the transport and fuel as well. This will lead to that "costs of flights within Australia will increase." Consequently, all the costs of operation will be increased, which will be a threat to Australian government.
To sum up, it has been shown that, climate change plays a significant role in global tourism and it will have direct and indirect impacts on tourism in Australia. Focussing on natural environment, tourists and economy, there have been claims that direct impacts include sea level rise, warming, ocean acidification and increase in extreme weather events. On the other hand, increasing operational costs and changes in consumer behaviours belong to the indirect impacts. Consequently, all of these impacts need to be attached great importance.
Despite whether it is caused by the natural force or human being activities, climate change is in front of us all the time. Thus, it can be suggested that government should take steps to control its impact on tourism. One of the possible suggestions is developing sustainable tourism. Not only it can provide important support for nature conservation and economic development, but also it can help tourists and regional government to recognize importance of the biodiversity. Moreover, responsible tourism is the cornerstone of the whole tourism businesses. Therefore, government should enhance human beings' responsibility for energy saving and environmental protection consciousness while reducing emissions.