JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Tourism stakeholders are being urged to pay keen attention to the issue of climate change in order to mitigate the impacts on the industry.
  • With many properties and tourism-related activities located along the coastline, the sector is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change.
  • A series of four public consultations to heighten awareness of the impacts of climate change.

Tourism stakeholders are being urged to pay keen attention to the issue of climate change in order to mitigate the impacts on the industry, which is a key growth sector.

Director of Environmental Management and Conservation at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Anthony McKenzie, said that with many properties and tourism-related activities located along the coastline, the sector is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change. The island’s North coast has the highest concentration of tourism/beach front activities.

“The prognosis is that with an incremental rise in global sea levels, there will be a reduction in the width of the beaches. Some see it as beach erosion. The important point is that our country and many others in the Caribbean depend on tourism for up to 20 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product),” he stated at a recent JIS Think Tank.

Mr. McKenzie noted, however, that tourism is not the only area of concern. He said that with most of the major townships also located along the coastline, there is the need to revisit how developments are planned.

“The planning framework within the context of our development orders and spatial plan needs to take on board the potential impact of climate change. Going forward, NEPA sees itself as being strategic in ensuring that these issues are brought to bear in our planning and adaptation programmes,” he stated.

The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, is staging a series of four public consultations to heighten awareness of the impacts of climate change. The first session was held in St. Mary on February 14, and the others will be held in St. Elizabeth on February 18; St. James on February 19; and in Kingston on February 20.

Principal Director of the Climate Change Division (CCD) in the Ministry, Albert Daley, said that the primary objective of the consultations is for Jamaicans to have a full understanding of the issues.

“It’s a reality that we have to be prepared for. Indications are that temperatures are rising and will continue to rise, so we want to help people understand the extent to which it will rise and the likely impact on different sections of the island as well as sectors, and what they may be able to do to minimize the impacts,” he told JIS News.