Monday, October 27, 2008

Air travel to Africa and climate change

The issue of carbon emissions caused by air travel is becoming an increasingly heated debate. Soon regulating airline emissions could become an integral part of the UK climate change bill.

This raises the question of what would happen in poorer countries of Africa (and elsewhere) which rely on tourism for much-needed international revenue and regard tourism as important part of their development strategy, if tourists would stop coming due to changes in air travel regulations. One helpful suggestion for tourists is given on the topic by an Africa specialist travel agency Rainbow Tours, which forms part of the Ethical Tour Operators Group in the UK:

"It is estimated that one new job is created by every eight tourists, and one job supports up to twenty people. In modern times, flying is an essential part of any trip to Africa, and if people were to stop visiting Africa because of a desire to cut down on flying, the effect on communities would be catastrophic. In many areas, tourism offers the only chance of employment and hope for the future.

Maybe a solution is to travel less and for longer. Make one longer visit, instead of two. We don’t offer long-weekends in Zanzibar, or in Cape Town. Cut out the flights you can afford to go without – to Edinburgh or Paris – and travel by train. Cut out the short-break in Barcelona, turn down the central heating and wear a jumper, but please don’t stop visiting Africa. They need you there."

However, it is clear that this issue also needs to be tackled at an international level far beyond the individual traveler´s decision-making , taking into account the relative importance of tourism for development in a tourist host region and even the much lower average carbon emission levels of the poorer host country rather than only the levels of the country of origin of the tourists.

H/T: Ron Mader -, Green Travel Network

1 comment:

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