An assessment of the economic impact of climate change on the tourism sector in the Bahamas
.-- I. Introduction.-- II. Climate change and tourism.-- III. Analyzing climate change in the Bahamas tourism sector.-- IV. Discussion of modeling results.-- V. Adaptation and mitigation options.-- VI. Conclusions.
The Bahamas is at great risk and vulnerability given its geographical features as a low-lying, sea encircled country. If projected sea level rise is reached by 2050, between 10-12% of territory will be lost, especially in coastal zones where the main tourism assets are located. Vulnerability could also be manifested if flight carbon emission taxes are established in the main source markets, representing an economic threat to the tourism sector for the islands. The impact of climate change on main tourism demand variables will cause some losses to the country‟s income and government revenues. This would be acting conjointly with some local threats to tourism assets and trends in future global tourism demand. The second and no less important threat is tropical cyclones, which may be associated with raising sea level. Estimations posited the amount of losses in excess of 2400 million US$ for the four decades under examination. It is to be pointed out that there is still a lack of comparatively accurate data collection and analysis on this subject, a point deserving more attention in order to deepen the understanding of, and to extract better lessons from these extreme events. In the same period, total estimated impacts of progressive climate change are between 17 and 19 billions of B$ with estimated discount rates applied. The Bahamas is a Small Island Developing State with low growth on GHG emissions (second in Latin America), as well as a relative short capacity to lower emissions in the future. The country has a relative delay in the application of renewable energy systems, a solution that, provided documented studies on-site, might turn out to be fundamental in the country‟s efforts to establish mitigation related policies. The Bahamas currently has institutions and organizations that deal with climate change-related issues and an important number of measures and courses of action have been set up by the government. Nevertheless, more coordination among them is needed and should include international institutions. This coordination is essential even for the first steps, i.e. to conduct studies with a bottom-up approach in order to draw more accurate programs on adaptation and mitigation. It is fundamental for tourism to keep track of potential losses in tourist attractions (and to act accordingly), related to correspondent losses in biodiversity, water resources and coastal erosion. Also, actions to fight climate change impacts might improve the islands security standards, quality of living and protect cultural and heritage assets. These elements may definitely shape the future of the country‟s competitiveness as a tourism destination. It is possible and necessary to decide about the options with good cost-benefit ratio and reasonable payback periods, notwithstanding that cost-benefit analysis requires more refined and accurate data to provide precise and locally adapted options.