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Is-global-warming-a-serious-threat-or-a-boost-to-international-travel

Is global warming a serious threat – or a boost to international travel?

The answer to the headline question may be “a bit of both”. And, it very much depends on where you are coming from or going. Obviously, someone in my position thinks globally and so it was with keen interest that I heard the news of the warmest day that the world (as a whole) had ever experienced happening recently. For those who may still think global warming is not a thing, I think that this pretty much confirms it. In my last article, I touched on this when discussing South Africa’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We see our glorious weather pretty much all year round (simply depending on which part of the country you are visiting) as one of our great strengths, but ironically this strength, not unlike when Sampson’s long locks were sheared, will be greatly dissipated if global warming continues to escalate at its current rate.

Where warming is very welcome 

We in Africa may find it hard to believe that warmer weather can be a boon to anyone but we must not forget that most of the far northern hemisphere experience severe cold and inclement weather for most of the year. When in the UK recently, I got to see what a joy it was for the locals to get warm sunny days like they seldom experience. In fact, there are many parts of the northern hemisphere where heat waves (by their standards) were experienced. But generally speaking, the sunny warm weather was welcomed. 

What this means is that some travellers from the north might not find our weather to be our strongest point anymore. So I guess the moral of that story is, never to rest on any one of our laurels and always aim to have a comprehensive and varied tourist destination offering. I have to say though, I do believe that diversity is our greatest strength in South Africa so I don’t believe global warming will be, from a tourism point of view at least, as much of a threat as some might believe.

A few travel challenges 

These fairly drastic weather changes are, however, also creating some quite alarming natural disasters like the kind of flooding we are experiencing in some parts of our country and the runaway fires on the other side of the globe in Canada. This makes knowing when to be in the right place at the right time something of a challenge but we must remember that these things cannot always be foreseen by even the best of Travel Advisors. So, travel insurance to cover last-minute changes of arrangements and flights is essential in these times.

What Travel Advisors definitely can assist with is advice on areas that are constantly being affected by changing weather patterns on a regular basis – like low-lying and coastal areas. They can also advise us on what to pack, knowing more or less what kind of climate changes are happening everywhere at any given time. Those warm clothes you may have had to pack a couple of years ago for spring in certain northern hemisphere destinations may no longer be necessary or winter in certain African temperate climate areas are suddenly much colder and even wetter – so pack for every kind of possibility!

All for one and one for all

At the end of the day, sustainability and global warming initiatives are linked and both can benefit from our efforts to try to save our planet. We have serious threats to our ecosystem like those already being experienced as a result of load shedding and although we may be experiencing flooding right now in Africa this can quickly revert to drought and water scarcity. So the conservation of energy and water and the necessity to always ensure a safe water supply cannot be underestimated. Some may not believe those who warn of global warming but the evidence of how we are being affected seems pretty conclusive. Let’s not choose to ignore the elephant in the room but rather work together tirelessly to create and support eco-friendly options. One of my favourite slogans displayed in the stores of a local food chain is, “There is no planet B!”. Nothing could be truer, and it is going to take a solid effort, on behalf of everyone who occupies this glorious home of ours, to ensure its survival so that we who have the wanderlust will always have something wonderful to see, regardless of the weather! 

LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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