Global Warming Alarm for Caribbean Boaters

Sailing in the Caribbean - is it under threat as well?
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The Director for Sustainable Tourism for the Association of Caribbean States has sounded an alarm on the effects of global warming and rising sea levels on yachting in the Caribbean.

Jasmin Garraway, in a guest editorial in the Sun St Kitts, a local St Kitts publication, said 'Climate change and sea level rise pose a major threat to the expansion of the boating and the cruise industry.

'The Caribbean remains one of the world’s most popular boating destinations. The nature of the product demands that supporting infrastructure is constructed on the shoreline making them as equally vulnerable as coastal resorts.

'One of the greatest threats to tourism in the region is the phenomenon of rising sea levels, which will increase waves and storm surges occurring with hurricanes. Scientists believe that climate change, which normally occurs over long periods of time, is accelerating due to increased human activities such as burning of fossil fuels and that this phenomenon is causing increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters in the region. Global climate change has led to changes in sea surface temperatures and sea levels, which in turn can result in flooding, inundation and erosion in low-lying coastal areas.

'Coral reefs, which are valuable tourism resources, can also be affected by the impacts of rising temperatures and storms. This contributes to coral bleaching and affects the production of sand for beaches; erodes the protective function and decreases the reef’s value to fish stocks. Sea level rise also changes the ecology and hydrology of the natural heritage diversity and alters the value of these ecotourism attractions.'

Tourism stakeholders will face the challenges of sustaining business viability, income and property value. The cost of protection measures for beach and property will have to be met. The declining amenity value, the deterioration of the landscape and aesthetics, issues related to insurance and reinsurance, as well as the cost and availability of adequate coverage pose other serious concerns.

Jasmin Garraway is the sustainable tourism director of the Association of Caribbean States.