At present, climate change is a widely talked-about issue across the globe. Along with other concerning issues of climate change impact, tourism industry is also coming to the forefront, as, in many countries, it is the single industry of employment generation and foreign currency earnings. Climate change is no more a theoretical concept for tourism. It is a phenomenon that affects the sector and certain destinations in particular.
Unplanned and uncontrolled tourism industry contributes to the environmental pollution, greenhouse effect and destruction of bio-diversity largely in terms of transportation of tourists.
Climate is an essential resource for tourism, especially for the beach, nature, and winter sports tourism products. Changing climate and weather patterns at tourist destinations and in tourist-generating countries can significantly affect the tourists' comfort and their travel decisions. Changing demand patterns and tourist flows will have an adverse impact on tourism business and on host communities, as well as knock-off effects on related sectors, such as agriculture, handicraft or construction.
In small island-states and developing countries, where tourism is a major economic activity, any significant reduction in tourist arrivals will have serious impact on employment and engender further poverty.
Climate change issue is also a matter of great concern as it will be one of the worst victims of the world. The accelerated climate change has long been affecting both the developed and the developing countries, including Bangladesh, where bio-diversity along with the agro-based tourism products are facing dangerous consequences.
For Bangladesh, climate change is a matter of survival. According to the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), the projection for Bangladesh is ominous, to say the least. The frequency and intensity of extreme weather will cause devastating impacts on tourism and the country's overall socio-economic development.
The maximum tourism resources in Bangladesh are situated in the coastal areas facing the Bay of Bengal, which are more susceptible to environmental pollution. To mention the major products located in coastal areas are the world's longest sea-beach - Cox's Bazar, the world's largest mangrove forest - the Sundarbans, a world heritage site, some off-shore islands - Saint Martin's, Sonadia Island, Fatrar Char in the vicinity of Kuakata, etc. Any tidal surge, cyclone or sea-level rise would damage these tourism sites. Disaster results in loss of lives and investment. Though Bangladesh has a very good experience in disaster management, the natural tourism products that are being damaged can not be restored again.
The tourism industry in Bangladesh is still in a taking-off stage. Experts opine that the tourism industry of Bangladesh does not yet cause much harm to the environment. But, we have to remain cautious from the very beginning. We must develop well-controlled and well-planned tourism so that out mother-nature does not encounter any destruction. We must go for environment-friendly tourism activities like eco-tourism, green-tourism, rural-tourism etc. that is sustainable tourism development. The concept of nature- based and eco-tourism development is still very new in the country. We have to take proper steps right now to popularise the concept. We must organise awareness and capacity building programme for the tour operators, tourist guides and tourism service providers and local people so that they can work for environment protection at their own level.
Tourism has become both the victim and the vector of climate change. Initiative has to be taken so as to reduce its discharge and adapt to environment-friendly methodology for providing services to tourists. We must recognise that tourism and environment are complementary to each other. Destruction of natural attraction means colossal damage to the tourism industry. Hence, for employment generation and poverty reduction in Bangladesh, we should protect the natural attractions (that we call tourism products) through containing environment pollution posing a serious threat to the tourism industry.
The writer is Deputy Manager of BPC. email@example.com
Editor : Moazzem Hossain,
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