The climate is changing. The earth is warming up, and it is seen as one of the greatest threats facing the planet.
As climate change could wreak havoc to the world’s weather patterns, it should also be a major concern for tourism, said Tourism Secretary Ace Durano at the sidelines of the recently concluded ‘Eco-Mismo: The Philippine Conference on Ecotourism and Eco-Productivity’ held at the Marco Polo Plaza in Cebu City.
Durano explained, “As an archipelago, our waters are our competitive advantage as a travel destination. The forecasted climate-change induced rise of water several meters off our coastlines will have most of our resort destinations submerged; thus making this global phenomenon a great concern as well for the local tourism sector.”
Environmental expert Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, chief executive officer of the World Wildlife Fund Philippines, pointed out during his presentation at the Eco-Mismo conference that the volume of tourist arrivals could indeed drop as climate change starts to drastically affect the country’s coastlines.
Tan said that climate change 50 years from now will make sea levels rise gradually from four to 12-meter high. This, Tan said, means that all coastal communities including a great part of Mactan Island is likely to be phased out by the year 2047; key tourism facilities in the province – the airport, coastal highways, as well as historical landmarks and natural sites such as beaches – will be under water.
Tan also pointed out the scenario of coral bleaching due to increase in sea surface temperature. There will also be ocean acidification and more intense tropical cyclones due to climate change.
Durano said, “Looming effects of climate change are realities we did not factor in the previous years. These problems have not been realized by the people. To be able to address these, there is an urgent need to educate the public first to gain cooperation on how we can solve the problem as a community – as a country.”
The objective should be to drum up support for a collaborative effort to address the issue of climate change, stressed Durano. A change in mindset would make communities see the resources around them as something they can use in the long run. This, Durano said, could produce “a new economy that is more sustainable as compared to the old social and economic structure.”
The Eco-Mismo conference was organized by the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation (RPDEV), established by former president Fidel V. Ramos, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of peace and development in the country, in partnership with the DOT and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).