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An assessment of the economic and social impacts of climate change on the tourism sector in the Caribbean

Winston Moore (), Charmaine Gomes, Dillon Alleyne and Willard Phillips

Sede Subregional de la CEPAL para el Caribe (Estudios e Investigaciones) from Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL)

Abstract: There are significant, fundamental changes taking place in global air and sea surface temperatures and sea levels. The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that many of the warmest years on the instrumental record of global surface temperatures have occurred within the last twelve years, i.e. 1995-2006 (IPCC, 2007). The Caribbean tourism product is particularly vulnerable to climate change. On the demand side, mitigation measures in other countries – for example, measures to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels – could have implications for airfares and cruise prices and, therefore, for the demand for travel, particularly to long-haul destinations such as the Caribbean (Clayton, 2009). On the supply side, sea level rise will cause beaches to disappear and damage coastal resorts. Changes in the frequency and severity of hurricanes are likely to magnify that damage. Other indirect impacts on the tourism product include rising insurance premiums and competition for water resources (Cashman, Cumberbatch, & Moore, 2012). The present report has used information on historic and future Caribbean climate data to calculate that the Caribbean tourism climatic index (TCI) ranges from −20 (impossible) to +100 (ideal). In addition to projections for the Caribbean, the report has produced TCI projections for the New York City area (specifically, Central Park), which have been used as comparators for Caribbean country projections. The conditions in the source market provide a benchmark against which visitors may judge their experience in the tourism destination. The historical and forecasted TCIs for the Caribbean under both the A2 and B2 climate scenarios of the IPCC suggest that climatic conditions in the Caribbean are expected to deteriorate, and are likely to become less conducive to tourism. More specifically, the greatest decline in the TCI is likely to occur during the northern hemisphere summer months from May to September. At the same time, the scenario analysis indicates that home conditions during the traditional tourist season (December – April) are likely to improve, which could make it more attractive for visitors from these markets to consider ‘staycations’ as an alternative to overseas trips.

Keywords: DESARROLLO SOSTENIBLE; CAMBIO CLIMATICO; FOMENTO DEL TURISMO; ANALISIS COSTO-BENEFICIO; TURISMO; INVESTIGACION ECONOMICA; INVESTIGACION SOCIAL; ASPECTOS ECONOMICOS; ASPECTOS SOCIALES; SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT; CLIMATE CHANGE; TOURISM DEVELOPMENT; COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS; TOURISM; ECONOMIC RESEARCH; SOCIAL RESEARCH; ECONOMIC ASPECTS; SOCIAL ASPECTS (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013-02
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