Droughts: People will need to ‘change the way we use our landscapes for tourism,’ professor says
August 19, 2022
Toronto Metropolitan University Director at the Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Dr. Frederic Dimanche joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the economic impact of climate change and how it will affect tourism in particular.
– The images, they’re stunning. They’re disturbing. Quite frankly, they are depressing. Look at it. Water levels at once-pristine Lake Powell and Lake Mead are now at unimaginable heights. Both lakes are around 27% of capacity. That’s down from 95% in 2000. Climate change taking its toll on economies around the world. Let’s talk more about this with Dr. Frederic Dimanche, director of the Metropolitan University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Good to see you, doc. I know this is primarily, number one, a problem for our planet. What is the economic toll of climate change?
FREDERIC DIMANCHE: Well, the economic toll of climate change is tremendous on all kinds of different sectors, obviously. So my specialty is tourism, obviously, so I will talk about tourism specifically, but it affects every single aspect of the economy. Think about waterways in Europe that are not being used anymore because the water levels are too low. Think about the energy sector that could be shut down because there is not enough water to create hydroelectric systems.
And obviously, the tourism industry is very much affected because people are being displaced. Some tourism activities cannot take place. We’ve seen that in the western part of the United States, but we see that in Europe also this summer. Think about the fires that took place in France in the past few weeks. Think about the drought. There is a very significant impact overall, and I think we are coming slowly to realize how much that impact is.
– Well, Frederic, talk about just how much it is impacted. Do we have any data yet just on how this extreme heat, or the floods, or the droughts, have affected tourist spending so far this year?
FREDERIC DIMANCHE: No, we don’t have that information yet. But what we know is that at least it’s displacing spending, so people may not spend anymore in one region because they decide to go somewhere else. So overall, you may not see a very big difference, but for someone specific destinations that are very dependent on the travel and tourism sector, that will represent a very big impact.
– And the big story of the week– and I mentioned Lake Powell and Lake Mead, but the big story was, of course, because of that, we’re seeing cuts to the Colorado River, most notably with the state of Arizona. How do you expect that to impact economies and, to your point, tourism?
FREDERIC DIMANCHE: Well, people will have to realize– and when I say people, it’s going to have to be the states, the local governments, will have to realize that we have been depending too much on this mighty river, the Colorado River, but we have been draining it far too much. We know we have had issues of water supply for the past 10 years, or 20 years, or 30 years. We’ve been threats before. Remember two years ago, there was a very significant drought, and we know about this before.
So this seems to be occurring on a regular basis now more and more often, and we’re going to have to make some choices. We’re going to have to change our lifestyle. We’re going to have to change the way we use our landscapes, for tourism activities as well as for residential activities. We probably cannot continue to live the way we are doing right now.
– And we’ve also got the flooding and the fires at national parks like Yellowstone. You talk about some of the lifestyle changes we should make. Is it the government? Is it private sector? Where does the answer lie beyond individuals making the choices you discussed?
– Well, the individuals are going to have– we asked the individuals to make some choices. We asked people not to water lawns and these type of things. But it’s a drop in the bucket, really. Until we see very significant change at the government level that will be changing the way we use the landscape, we use the land– does it make sense to develop some golf courses, for example, in arid climates in Arizona, for example, or eastern California? It may not make sense anymore in this kind of new environment.
So I think there are some hard questions to ask for government who will have to provide some new directives, some new directions for us all to follow. And us as the individuals, as well as the businesses.
– Every time I play golf in the deserts of Arizona or Palm Springs, I can’t help but wonder that. Love to discuss that in the future, doctor. Really appreciate you being with us. Thank you.