Climate change threat to tourism, says MEC

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Transformation and climate change are the greatest challenges facing the tourism industry in KwaZulu-Natal.

This was revealed by provincial MEC for arts, culture and tourism, Weziwe Thusi. She was speaking at the launch of tourism month in Isimangaliso Wetlands Park in St Lucia, Mtubatuba, northern Zululand.

Isimangaliso Wetlands Park is the country's first world heritage site.

"As much as 10percent of KwaZulu-Natal is under conservation and forms a crucial part of our tourism offering. However, climate change puts all this at risk in the longer term," she said.

Thusi said the tourism sector needed to rapidly respond to climate change and progressively reduce its greenhouse emissions if it was to grow in a sustainable manner.

"At the second international conference on climate change and tourism held in Davos last year, a call was made for the tourism sector to mitigate its greenhouse gas emissions which are derived mainly from transport," she said.

Seshi Chonco, chairman of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, said the growing demand for environmentally-based tourism experiences must have a knock on effect for communities close to invaluable wildlife reserves.

"Up until now it has been these communities that have watched from the sidelines as wealthy players within the leisure industry have profited from places that have rightfully belonged to them for generations," said Chonco.