Travel and tourism is touted to be a key sector for the economic development and job creation. In the year 2016, travel and tourism directly contributed around US$2.3 trillion and offered 109 million jobs worldwide, this is equal to 10.2% of the World’s GDP and approximately 1 out of 10 jobs. Despite growth in travel and tourism industry, there are a lot of issues clouding the industry. In the report we will be discussing on some of these issues (Mahrous & Hassan, 2016). For the purpose of the report the issues identified for analysis are:
- Climate Change
- Destination Degradation
Global Tourism Issues
Climate change has a great impact on travel and tourism, exposure to climate related risks such as floods, crop failure, and rise in the sea level can have a huge impact on the valuation of tourism property and the infrastructure. In a recent report from UNESCO, it is been pointed that there are 31 major attractions being under the risk due to climate change, it is pointed that these 31 attractions are in danger due to melting glaciers, intense weather events, bad droughts, longer wildlife seasons, rising seas and increase in temperature. Coastal destinations are one of the largest components of global tourism; they are at risk due to rising sea level, floods, hurricanes, storms and acidification due to climate change. The destination of winter sport is also getting hugely affected by deterioration of snow conditions. The main risk to business comes from different demands of the consumer and the viability of operations, at the same time travellers increasingly opt for different destinations, thus leaving some tourism infrastructure at previously popular location unused assets (Freitas, 2017)
The future of the sector will move to darkness, if alternate sources of energy or clean energy are not found for aviation, the media scrutiny will increase if people believe that the tourism industry is not looking for cleaner sources of energy. Hence it is the need of the hour to reduce the harmful emissions on the ground and other harmful environmental and social effects. The ownership is on the land transport and hotels as well to step up and mitigate the risk to the over tourism sector.
The Paris agreement which came into force the last year setting up a road for low carbon emission is a step towards a positive change. It is also put forward that the increase in temperature has to fall below 2 degree Celsius. The authorities have asked all the concerned organization and the countries to report on their carbon emission and their implementation efforts (Leon & Arana, 2016)
What the industry needs to do
There are certain businesses and organizations which are ahead of the race by setting up of ambitious targets based on the science of climate, green financing, internalising carbon pricing and engaging in climate policy developments. A program which is set up by WWF, aims to support business in adopting emissions reduction targets which are aligned to science and the climate requirements. The industry has to be a part of such organizations to damask the effect of carbon emissions (Rogerson, 2016)
It is the need of the hour for travel and tourism sector to speed up its transactions towards a low carbon future, in order to achieve this the goals have to be very much clear, the connections have to be built across tourism sub industries and developing and implementing joined action plans.
Strong awareness has to be raised around the negative impact of climate change, it also has to be measured and the progress in the sector has to be communicated. Hence, it can be said that to get the transformation the travel & tourism sector has to collaborate across the entire value chain and form new partnerships to expedite technological, policy and social innovation that will put the tourism firmly on the pathways of a low carbon economy (Hall, 2015)
Degradation of Destinations/Degradation of the biodiversity, ecosystems and landscapes
One of the major concerns for the travel and tourism sector is the ever fast degradation of the landscapes, biodiversity and the natural ecosystem. Tourist travel to a destination depending on the beauty and attractiveness of that place, if that sublimes or falls below the expected level, the tourist is sure to get into disappointment and not spread a positive word of mouth about it, causing a substantial loss in the revenue from tourism. The industry heavily relies on the beauty of the destination which has natural and cultural resources, thus it is really important to build a strong connect with the local communities who can realize the importance of destination management and can contribute towards maintaining the beauty and preserving the natural resources (Jahan & Rahman, 2016)
Two factors which seem to decrease the appeal of the destinations are commoditisation and degradation; these factors are strong contributing attribute which makes the tourism popular. Travel and tourism needs to play a proactive role out here and work with relevant international and national stakeholders to provide sustainable livelihoods and secure the social and cultural integrity at local levels. Incidents of overcrowding at certain destinations like Barcelona, Venice, Thailand have contributed a lot towards deterioration in relationship with the local communities and have also been linked with ruining the cultural heritage sites (Buckley, 2017)
What can be done
One of the strong reasons of degradation of the heritage sites and the landscapes is not having proper ties with the local community, it is very important to maintain the cultural and social integrity of destinations and show a positive contribution by promoting the benefits of decent work, economic growth, safeguard the destination and also address the negative impacts. Once this concern is addresses there is a strong possibility of getting support from the local community, who will do everything to preserve the natural heritage. Helping and letting the local economy is the only way to survive in this sector (Boley & Green, 2016)
It is of no doubt that the potential of tourism is immense, it has been forecasted that for at least 10 years the industry will grow at 4% (YOY). In the way of achieving this forecasted number, climate change, destination degradation and epidemic diseases are the major obstacles. Adding to it is the terror attacks which destroy the peace of the entire world.
Terror attacks stop a tourist from visiting that city or the country due to the fear crated around it, it has been reported that 2014 and 2015 were the worst effected year due to terrorism and has hit tourism industry the most. At the most time epidemic like Zika, stops tourist to enter a country due to their health and safety reasons. Thus again hampering the growth of the sector (Goldman & Shani, 2017)
In the recent pasts there have been many such incidents of terror attacks and violence which have substantially reduced the terror flow in that state, thus depriving the local communities of their livelihood and also hitting the economy by a whip. Such situations adversely affect the growth of travel and tourism sector. The same situation occurs with epidemic, Zika virus disallowed people to move freely across the borders, as they were under the risk of catching the virus and bringing it back to their own country. This was a big blow to the economy as well. Hence, disruption by terror attacks and epidemic disease adds up with climate change & degradation of the destination and serves a major blow to the travel and tourism sector (Liu & Pratt, 2017)
Preventive Measures the industry can take
One of the very first few things industry can do is to speak up about the damages being caused to the sector because of the increasing barriers to the trade and the restriction in the movement of people, reduce the threats from climate change and also invest in the quality of staff while building stronger communities.
The thinking on the issue has to be done by thinking of it as a global community, define the economic growth and success and ensure the benefits of globalization.
Safeguarding the interest of the local community and boosting their interest can go a long way in strengthening of the travel and tourism sector (Tang & Tan, 2016)
Travel and tourism does not do good only for the economy, but it does the overall development of the city, the state and the entire country, it does so much good to the local community and the society that it becomes extremely important to take care of the natural heritage, the culture, the ecosystem and the landscapes around. Many critical issues like change in the climate, degradation of the destination, terror attack and epidemic diseases are already acting as factors of plague to the industry, so now, if people don’t open the eyes to the danger of such issues, in not time the entire sector will collapse causes a situation of Mayhem. Collective actions by the travel and tourism authority and related sub industries like hotel, transport is required to build an impermeable wall around the sector. Such actions will make people understand the severity of the situation and the need for the hour to stand together and fight for it. Action and leadership is what even the UN states are the attributes that can do well for this sector. Allowing freedom to travel, opening up the borders and make the travel easier for people will go a long way in boosting the sector. The year 2017 is designated as the international year of sustainable tourism for the development by the United Nations, and this comes at the time when the travel and tourism is provided with a great opportunity to fight the challenges posed to it. Thus, if everyone comes together and works for the collective good, the global issues clouding the sector can be done away with in no time.
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