Sounding the alarm: Is the Sri Lankan tourism sector prepared for climate change?
MetadataShow full item record
The United Nations has concluded that climate change is unequivocal and without a rapid decarbonization of the global economy there will be risks of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts. The World Bank also emphasized that no scenario exists by which the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 could be met in a world transformed by climate change. Climate change has already affected the sustainability and competitiveness of global tourism yet it remains to be one of the least prepared economic sectors for the risks and opportunities of climate change. Several studies have highlighted persistent and significant regional knowledge gaps within the scholarship on tourism and climate change – particularly in the South and South-East Asia sub-regions where global tourism is expected to grow the fastest by 2030. Consequently, it is unclear the scale and scope of potential climate change impacts on tourism in these countries or how the tourism sector is planning for climate change in policy and practice. Tourism is Sri Lanka’s third largest economic sector and has been earmarked as one of the most vulnerable sectors to climate change by the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment. This thesis fills the regional knowledge gap and examines the preparedness of Sri Lanka’s tourism sector at the national scale (Phase I) and the destination level (Phase II). Phase I established the state of knowledge of climate change risks and impacts facing the tourism sector and reviewed the policy coherence between Sri Lanka’s national tourism strategy and climate adaptation plan. Phase II examined tourism stakeholder perceptions’ of climate change and identified barriers to climate adaptation at the embedded case study site (Unawatuna). This study found that Sri Lanka’s tourism sector is not prepared for climate change. The policy review indicated that climate change receives minimal attention in the tourism strategy and therefore does not enable stakeholders to take a proactive and planned approach to adaptation. Interviews suggested that despite being acutely aware of changes in the climate system, climatic conditions were not a priority in the context of other more immediate challenges among tourism stakeholders in Unawatuna. In light of these findings, this thesis recommends the following actions: 1) Conduct research studies to improve understanding of sector relevant climate change risks and impacts; 2) Communicate climate change as a local problem to tourism stakeholders; and, 3) Strengthen institutional capacities to mainstream adaptation. These findings can be used to inform future tourism policies and adaptation plans in Sri Lanka and can offer insight on mainstreaming adaptation in other developing countries facing similar challenges.
Cite this version of the work
Sarah Tam (2019). Sounding the alarm: Is the Sri Lankan tourism sector prepared for climate change?. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14643