Griffith helps Qld Tourism tackle climate change in new plan

Griffith University has taken a pivotal role in shaping the future of tourism in Queensland, aiding in the development of a new Climate Change Adaptation Plan released today.

Griffith Institute for Tourism director Professor Susanne Becken served as the primary author of the newly unveiled Queensland Tourism Climate Change Response Plan, which draws on 20 years of research into climate change and tourism.

The Queensland Tourism Industry Council-led plan, which was also drafted in partnership with Department of Environment and Science, examines the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for operators, travellers and other tourism stakeholders in navigating the changing world around us.

The plan considers short- and medium-term time frames (2030), as well as accounting for long-term goals to meet the state’s zero-net-emissions target by 2050.

According to the report, the most direct climate change-related risks facing the local tourism market are physical impacts, be they acute (e.g. cyclones, floods) or chronic (e.g. sea-level rise).

At the same time, there will be new opportunities to improve tourism’s long-term resilience through initiatives such as investment towards low-carbon technologies and building designs, and increased use of renewable energy.

Professor Becken said the strategy would be a “gold standard” for tourism destination climate plans in future.

“This strategy combines the best knowledge locally and globally on how climate change will impact tourism and what the industry can do about it,” she said.

“It also covers the low carbon transition that no doubt will affect tourism but also provides a great opportunity towards better and cleaner products and experiences.”

Launched at an industry event in Maleny today, the Queensland Tourism Climate Change Response Plan was developed in alignment with Australia’s international commitment as a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as its adherence to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The plan was developed over a six-month period and considered input from more than 150 industry stakeholders.

Tourism continues to provide a significant portion of Queensland’s gross state product, worth about $25 billion (or 7.9%) in the year to 2016. In the same period, tourism exports generated $7.1 billion, the third-largest export industry in the state at 14.8% of total revenue.

More than 225,000 Queenslanders are employed in the industry across about 54,000 mostly small or medium-size businesses.

“The reality is that tourism remains a vital part of the state economy, and it is crucial that industry and government work together to secure Queensland’s future as a destination market of choice among Australian and international travellers,” Professor Becken said.