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Posted: Dec 14, 2012

Maharaj Vijay Reddy and Keith Wilkes Tourism, climate change and sustainability, Abingdon, Routledge, 2013.

Any initial yawn at yet another title on climate change is stifled at the outset by the declared marriage here of tourism and climate - sustainability today being almost a given. The editors are based at Bournemouth University’s deservedly well-known International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research which hosted a conference sharing its title in September. They have trawled widely for contributions and as a result the book addresses the concerns of both North and South.

The book is driven by the realization that climate change, tourism, and sustainability are not free-standing constructs but are “complex, interrelated and contested” (page 16). It drives home the fact that any country highly dependent upon tourism, especially in the Pacific, is extremely vulnerable to climate change. It seems almost a case of each way you lose - the economies need tourism which brings in its wake increased pollution and water consumption. Which comes first, lying beside the infinity pool or knowing that the local people have a secure water supply?

Further chapters point out that climate and weather change need not automatically be bad news for the tourism industry but stakeholders will have to be quick to answer the questions they pose. Governments will have to cultivate the manoeuvrability of a dinghy rather than the proverbial oil tanker. Tourism will have to be equally nimble whether it is coping in the context of a Pacific small island state, the Brazilian litoral, or the wetlands of the Okavango Delta. Tourism operators will have to steep themselves in the issues of climate change to be able to adapt and cope with it.

The final chapter introduces an unpalatable truth: the man on the Clapham omnibus often feels differently about such issues on holiday and at home. If there is to be any hope for viable “climate change mitigation strategies and sustainable development goals” (page 19) then consistency of both attitude and behaviour will have to be a given. But as a survey respondent confessed “…when you’re on holiday you’re in a different mode” (page 265). As Hamlet said, “Aye, there’s the rub”.

The book can be recommended. It does more than make noises currently fashionable in academia. It faces hard questions and tries to provide some answers.

Susanne Becken and John E. Hay
Climate change and tourism; from policy to practice.
Abingdon, Earthscan from Routledge, 2012.

The initial reaction might be ‘oh, not another book on climate change’. This would be very inappropriate here. It is widely acknowledged that tourism as an industry contributes to climate change however unpalatable the fact might be and needs to deal with its challenges. The book offers practical advice to the industry on how to cope with such challenges. It is sad to note that in the authors’ opinion the Caribbean is the only ‘non-western’ area which is really investigating the implications of climate change for tourism. Science stresses the urgency and knowledge of the issues must be promulgated as widely as possible.

This book goes a long way towards achieving such a situation - it certainly achieves its goal providing “an assessment of the most recent knowledge on the many interactions between climate change and tourism” (page 235). Its series of well-chosen case studies examine initiatives at both policy and practical levels. The studies range widely but have an understandable lean towards the Pacific and other ocean states. Maybe an ethics-based approach to tourism would help - where is tourism really beneficial and where might reliance on it be profitably reduced. The book can be warmly recommended.

Paul Smith

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