Sustainable Tourism, tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of the visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities. (UNEP & UNWTO)
The Philippines is rich in natural resources, number one in marine biodiversity; with the fourth longest coastline in the world; number five in natural flora and fauna, and in all other mineral resources. We Filipinos, especially in the tourism industry, who use nature as a tourism destination, should exert more effort in preserving and enhancing our natural environment and resources, respecting the local host communities, and keeping the tourism safe in natural settings.
Sea Level Rise (SLR)
The current situation of environmental degradation, closely connected to human, ethical and social degradation (Encyclical Laudato Si’, nn. 48, 56, 122) Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands are in danger from the impact of climate change sea-level rise due to melting ice caps, unsustainable coastal development, abundant low-lying areas, reliance on the agricultural sector, super typhoons and over-dependence upon natural resources.
The sea-level rise has already begun in the Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands region:
- The average annual surface temperatures in the region increased by 0.5-1.1 °C during the period which brings stronger severe typhoons.
- Sea level is rising, and the magnitude varies regionally. During the period 1993-2001, the largest increases in sea level (15-25 mm per year) in the region occurred near Indonesia and the Philippines, while only moderate changes (0-10 mm per year) occurred along the coasts.
- Sea level will continue to rise, although will vary in different regions, by 30 to 40 cm before the end of the 21st century.
The Impacts of Sea Level Rise.
The Southeast Asian region and the Pacific, are already suffering from the devastating effects of rising sea level, including saltwater intrusion into estuaries and aquifers, coastal erosion, displacement of wetlands and lowlands, degradation of coastal agricultural areas, and increased susceptibility to coastal storms. These effects are interrelated with impacts on agriculture, natural disasters, river deltas, water resources, coastal ecosystems, human livelihoods and infrastructure, and national security. Sea level rise has overarching socioeconomic impacts as well, due to loss in income associated with the degradation of agricultural areas and loss of housing associated with coastal inundation, for example.
Impact of Sea Level Rise on Tourism.
1-meter sea level rise would result in the loss or damage of 21 airports, inundation of land surrounding 35 ports, and at least 149 multi-million dollar tourism resorts damaged or lost in the Caribbean nation. (Rafat Ali)
In the Philippines, Super Typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan) was one of the strongest and deadliest tropical cyclones that made landfall in the Philippines. Its effects were considered the true impacts of climate change, as thousands of livelihoods were disrupted and an equal number of lives were destroyed. (Micheal Fababier). The typhoons coming to the Philippines will get stronger and will have a harder impact not only to the tourism industry but also to the whole sector of society.
Sea Level Rise impacts to the tourism industry and investments are infrastructure damage, business interruptions, damage to properties, beach and coastal erosion, reduced landscape aesthetic, dangerous water current in the coastal area, and lesser tourists.
Laudato Si 41
All of this helps us to see that every intervention in nature can have consequences that are not immediately evident and that certain ways of exploiting resources prove costly in terms of degradation which ultimately reaches the ocean bed itself.
Adaptation, Mitigation, and Risk Reduction Measures
- The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. (Laudato Si 13)
- Make Sustainable Tourism authentic by including science-based conservation projects in tourism destinations. Science solutions like massive mangrove tree planting the right species, with protection barriers, empowering the community to take ownership of taking care of the coastal area. Or Zero Plastic solutions and waste management.
- And in the last scenario, migration is the last option. Climate change refugees will be adopted by open countries to live a new better life. Applying the new Encyclical Fratelli Tutti that nobody will be left behind.
- Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands: The Impact of Climate Change to 2030 by National Intelligence Council, August 2009.
- Laudato Si Encyclical
- Rafat Ali on How Climate Change is Threatening Coastal Tourism and Recreation.
- Fababier, M on Building adaptive capacity to impacts of climate change related disaster risk the case of urban barangays of Coron, Palawan
- Cruz, RG Tourism Planning and Development
- Photo from UNWTO
- Photo from Esquire Philippines