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From Fiji to Botswana, Tourism Industry Aiming for a Lighter Carbon Footprint

Increasing numbers of eco-conscious travelers are forcing some tourist operators and resort owners to mitigate and adapt to the risks of climate change

By Lori Tripoli, SolveClimate News

Apr 12, 2011
Elephants in Botswana.

The fragile islands, where Charles Darwin conducted his research in 1835, and which helped inspire his theory of natural selection, are vulnerable to threats other than climate change, said Henderson, including overfishing, a fast-growing local population and rising numbers of tourists.

Working with the national park service, Conservation International developed a system for tourism visitor management, restricting the number of people on sites and the number of boats on the island  to limit stresses on the ecosystem, and encouraging adoption of green technologies on the part of tour operators.

Ecoventura, for instance, mitigates climate change by using solar and wind power on its boats and offsetting its carbon emissions.

Still, several observers said that while the travel industry in the Galapagos and other nations where tourism is the major source of income has acknowledged the impact of global warming on their livelihoods, generally they have been slow to adapt.

"The [climate] changes are relatively so slow that people don't develop a sense of urgency," said Henderson. "It's a problem worldwide in responding to climate change."

Correction: An earlier version of this article inaccurately reported that the campgrounds run by Botswana-based Wilderness Safaris are similar to hotels with 100 rooms and 100 staff on-site. Most of the company's camps have between three to 16 units and a small staff.

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