If I say, “think of a holiday scene”, (except for the avid hikers and skiers among you) you will probably conjure up a pristine coastal view, waves lapping gently at a serene shoreline.
For many countries – especially Small Island Developing States – the wafer-thin slice where the land meets the ocean is big business and can account for up to 25% of national GDP.
Indeed, some 600 million people (that’s around 10 per cent of the global population) live and make their living in coastal areas less than 10 metres above sea level. Now, we are probably all now aware of the issues that threaten these fragile environs; from sea-level rises, to extreme weather events to pollution, all of which pose an existential threat to the survival of these communities and to our picture-perfect coastlines.
But what can we, the tourism industry and its stakeholders, really do to protect the marine marvels whose riches we borrow for pleasure and profit?
It was with great pleasure that the Travel Foundation was invited to attend the Paris launch of a new report, Blue Tourism- the Transition Towards Sustainable Coastal and Maritime Tourism in World marine Regions, published by ‘citizen think and do tank’, Ecounion, policy researchers, IDDRI and French public policy agency, ADAME.
Amongst a slew of sensible recommendations, the report highlights the issues and sets out potential policy and practice approaches that governments and businesses might take to address them, including:
- Anticipating growth scenarios and increasing resilience to reduce exposure to shocks
- Better global collection and monitoring of data relating to the marine environment
- An improvement of tourism’s governing mechanism to allow better planning and regulation.
- Innovation and mainstreaming of practices at a national level
The recommendations were underpinned by the need for new, innovative and adequate financial schemes to enable implementation and support scalability and replication.
For those with an interest or stake in coastal tourism, the report is a must-read and an ideal companion to our own Destinations at Risk: The Invisible Burden of Tourism, which calls urgently for new approaches to destination management. I urge you to read both reports, and hope they will spark much-needed debate and, importantly, action.