Climate change could affect Jamaica's tourist arrivals, says researcher

A researcher has said Jamaica and other Caribbean countries could experience a decline in tourist arrivals from Europe due to climate change and measures to address the global phenomenon.

Indi McLymont Lafayette, researcher at the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, said there will be fewer incentives for visitors to travel to the Caribbean due to climate change.

She said as Europe gets warmer, some persons will no longer see the need to vacation in the Caribbean for sun.

Mrs McLymont Lafayette, who was speaking at the RJR News Forum held this week, added that European countries are also seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and will discourage long-haul plane travel.

“So, we will be forced to look at other options in terms of what else do we put in place because tourism won’t survive business as usual,” she asserted. 

Diversify economy 

With Jamaica earning most of its revenues from tourism, another academic has concurred, calling for the government to diversify the country’s economy because of the potential devastating impact of climate change on the sector. 

Dr. David Smith, Director of the Centre of Environmental Management at the UWI, Mona, said Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean should make plans for a post-beach tourism economy.

Dr. Smith, who was also a guest at the latest RJR News Forum, said he believes that beach tourism does not have a lot of potential for adding more rooms and employment. 

“It might be that what we should be doing is building up human capital a lot more so that all Jamaicans can take advantage of whatever opportunities might come up.” 

“Why are we having a tourism industry where we’re really only putting in people at the low end of employment as opposed to the high end?” he questioned. 

In June, Jamaica recorded a 3.2 per cent increase in stopover arrivals from the European market when compared to the same period last year.