Climate Change and its impact on the Tourism Industry
The impact of climate change on the tourism industry was addressed head-on this morning at the annual general meeting of the Belize Tourism Industry Association. The economies of Belize and the rest of the Caribbean are dependent on the tourism dollar so that the effects of climate change can potentially place the Caribbean region at a risk. According to the experts, the temperature is one degree warmer than it was five decades ago. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
The twenty-eighth annual general meeting of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, the country’s private sector arm of the travel business, was held this morning at the Biltmore. The gathering of industry stakeholders from across the country provided an opportunity for the organization to update its membership on progress over the course of the past year.
Herbert Haylock, President, BTIA
“It’s a time when the association comes together, its members come together basically just to report on what has taken place over the last year. What developments have occurred, what has the association done and what have we been doing for the membership. It’s really our chance to give them that information en masse, to have the membership come together collectively, not only for the purposes of just sitting in and attending a formal session but really it’s a networking opportunity for members, new members, old members and that’s what we are here today doing.”
While much was said about the quarterly figures in terms of cruise and overnight arrivals, equal emphasis was also placed on the damaging effects of climate change on the environment. Addressing the issue in delivering his remarks was guest speaker Dr. Kenrick Leslie. He is the executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center.
Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Exec. Dir., CCCCC
“Data from weather stations in Belize and other Caribbean countries show that it is already one degree warmer than it was fifty years ago. This exceeds the global average. The global average right now is about point eight and we in the Caribbean are seeing one. But don’t expect that the only observed changes in temperature although this too will present significant constraints on an industry that relies on its tropical location. Low-lying countries like Belize will face the onset in the shift of the climatic norm and the impact of the rising sea level and coastal areas and beaches within the next two decades.”
Beyond the threat of being impacted physically by climate change, the tourism industry has seen significant changes over the course of the last twelve months. So has the organizational structure of BTIA.
“One of the outcomes of that particular process has been the fact that we’ve made specific changes within the association’s operational structure to ensure that we have that level of efficiency that allows us to be able to serve the membership more appropriately and better and more cost effectively.”
“Any position on the numbers so far in terms of the tourism industry on a whole, either overnight or cruise tourism?”
“I think in terms of the general trends we’re seeing, we are confident and we are looking at fairly good numbers from our understanding across the table, incoming overnight stays. There are projections being made again for increases going into 2014. I don’t think anybody will complain about the fact that we have increased numbers. I think where we need to be focusing energies and looking at is in the product that we have here, looking at things such as the infrastructure, public transportation, looking at the ability to move people from one end to the next, looking at perception issues on arrival, for example. These are some of the things that I mentioned in my statement to the association.”
During the BTIA AGM minutes from last year’s meeting were also ratified. Isani Cayetano for News Five.