Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes

ISSN: 1755-4217

Article publication date: 7 August 2009


Teare, R. (2009), "Editorial", Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Vol. 1 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/whatt.2009.40801caa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, Volume 1, Issue 3


Welcome to Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes (WHATT ), Vol. 1 No. 3. Our aim is to make a practical and theoretical contribution to the sustainable development of the worldwide hospitality and tourism industry. Each theme issue addresses a significant industry challenge – starting from a strategic question and leading to outcomes that are practical and implementable. To accomplish this task, theme editors assemble a team of academics who collaborate with industry practitioners in the analysis and development of possible solutions. The intended outcome of peer review is a themed collection of clear and concisely written, accessible articles that contain insights, analysis and authoritative responses to industry challenges.

This theme issue has been edited by Professor Anthony Clayton and Dr Carolyn Hayle of the University of the West Indies. Some years ago, I heard Tony speak about climate change and the implications for the Caribbean at an event in Jamaica. His talk had such an impact on the audience and on me that I came home with the feeling that a new type of forum was needed to facilitate interchange and collaboration between academics and practitioners. Thanks to Emerald, WHATT offers this opportunity and I should like to thank John Peters, Valerie Robillard, Joe Bennett and their colleagues at Emerald for supporting the WHATT concept.

Anthony Clayton, Carolyn Hayle and their team of contributors have assembled a remarkable theme issue – it contains a stark warning about the reality and impact of climate change. I commend this theme issue to you – it is a compelling story that every practitioner, academic and student should read – while there is still time to respond. Thank you Tony, Carolyn and team for addressing the theme so clearly and effectively.

If you have a key industry challenge in mind that you would like to address via a WHATT theme issue, do please contact me.

Richard TeareManaging Editor, WHATT

What are the implications of climate change for the Caribbean travel and tourism industry?

This special theme issue looks at the role of the travel and tourism industry in climate change, and at the implications of climate change for the travel and tourism industry. There is a particular focus on the Caribbean, for three reasons. The first is that the Caribbean is currently the most tourism-dependent region in the world. A long-term contraction in the industry would cripple a number of Caribbean economies and cause a surge in poverty, which is likely to cause social chaos. The second is that most Caribbean tourists arrive by either cruise ship or air, both of which generate significant quantities of carbon dioxide and therefore make a major contribution to climate change. The third is that most of the Caribbean industry is based on sea, sun and sand tourism, which in turn means that most of the essential infrastructure is located at or near the shoreline, in areas that will be vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge. This combination of dependency and vulnerability makes the Caribbean a particularly pertinent and poignant example of how countries can come to rely on an industry that might prove to contain the seed of not only its own destruction, but also that of some vulnerable host economies.

These problems are not insoluble, but averting the worse-case scenario will require decisive action, and this is not currently much in evidence. There have been many meetings, reports, statements, and commitments, but global carbon emissions are still rising.

This theme issue of WHATT contains five articles that address critically important aspects of this problem.

The first article “Climate change and tourism: the implications for the Caribbean”, by Anthony Clayton, sets out the main issues.

The second article “Preparing for a rainy day: climate change and sustainable tourism in Caribbean small island developing states” by Marlene Attzs, explains the vital economic role of the travel and tourism industry in the Caribbean. The article then examines the economic implications of climate change and the associated change in environmental risk profile for the Caribbean tourism industry, and considers the financial costs and benefits of the various policy response options, including response adaptation, anticipatory adaptation, catastrophe insurance and other models of risk management, risk sharing and risk transfer.

Climate change also has significant implications for both rainfall and saline intrusion in ground water, which could directly threaten both the tourism industry and other local livelihoods. Water shortages will be particularly critical in the Caribbean islands that are already water-stressed; at or near the limits of their available supplies.

In the third article “Climate change implications for water resource management in Caribbean tourism”, Kwame Emmanuel and Balfour Spence examine these issues, and outline possible strategic responses. They focus on Barbados, because Barbados has four critical factors that make it particularly sensitive and potentially vulnerable in this regard. First, Barbados is relatively small and flat, and has limited water flow. Second, it is the most densely populated country in the Caribbean. Third, the economy is primarily driven by tourism, and has prospered as a result; the country is now ranked by the World Bank as “upper-middle income”. Fourth, Barbados is characterized as “absolute water scarce” on the Falkenmark scale because of a per capita availability of freshwater per year of less than 500 cubic meters. Barbados has a water availability of just 306 cubic metres per capita per year, which makes Barbados the 15th most water-scarce nation in the world. Thus, Barbados is critically dependent on a water-intensive industry, has limited options to expand the supply of the key resource, and now finds that the availability of this key resource might decline in future as a result of climate change.

In the fourth article, Anthony J. Hall and Anthony Clayton report on a series of interviews that he conducted with leading representatives of the travel and tourism industry in Jamaica to determine their level of awareness and planning on climate change and related issues.

Finally, in “Is tourism with a low impact on climate possible?” Jonathan Chenoweth examines the impact of a range of different travel and tourism options, and quantifies the carbon-dioxide emissions resulting from international vacations, breaking down emissions categories into those resulting from transport, accommodation and recreation. Using this data, a range of possible vacation scenarios can then be examined for their relative carbon-dioxide emissions in order to compare the relative climatic impact of different forms of tourism and vacation options. The paper concludes that intercontinental flights and cruise ship travel are particularly carbon-intensive, which suggests that these two forms of tourism will be particularly vulnerable to any policy initiative to curb or price carbon emissions. The article ends by considering whether climatically responsible international tourism is possible, and outlines some low-carbon options.

These articles make it clear that the nations of the Caribbean are facing a serious dilemma. Their hopes for development rest largely on tourism, especially as other sectors, such as traditional agriculture, continue to decline, and most of them are currently committed to expanding tourist volumes or margins or both. However, the increase in demand for travel and tourism is contributing directly to climate change, which is likely to have exceptionally serious consequences for the islands.

The Caribbean nations will have to respond to these existential threats. Their ability to do so will largely determine their future. The fate of the Caribbean may also serve as a harbinger for the future of the travel and tourism industry, and determine whether it too can adjust to the profound challenge of climate change.

Anthony Clayton and Carolyn HayleTheme Editors

About the Theme Editors

Anthony ClaytonAlcan Professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development, Institute for Sustainable Development, at the University of the West Indies. He is also a Visiting Professor at the School of Engineering in the Centre for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey, Visiting Professor at the School of Social and Political Studies in the Institute for Studies of Science, Technology and Innovation at the University of Edinburgh, Adjunct Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Business and Management, University of Technology, International Associate, Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research, University of St Andrew, and a Fellow of the Caribbean Academy of Science.

Carolyn HayleSenior Programme Officer, School for Graduate Studies and Research in the Institute for Hospitality and Tourism, University of the West Indies, and lectures on sustainable tourism, marketing and tourism management in the Tourism and Hospitality Management MSc degree programme. She was a member of the team that developed the Carrying Capacity Study component of Jamaica’s Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development. She is an experienced consultant with many assignments in the Caribbean and abroad, including the development of guidelines for community tourism, market research on agro-tourism in Jamaica and strategic planning. Her PhD is in sustainable development with an emphasis on tourism policy. She is a Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Air Jamaica and the National Education Council of Jamaica, Chairman of Papine High School and a member of the Kingston College Board of Management.