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While the media and society appears to be focusing on the economy and the length of stay for governments climate change marches on.
After stuffing two small fire events , a small flood and extreme weather events on my property over the last six years I have become very aware of the impacts climate on our business and on the community. Prior to the last summer I prepared and circulated a bush fire survival plan for our tourism association, but we were still very unprepared for the potential events that lay in store.
The summer became the ‘Hottest January’ on record, ‘Hottest Summer’ on record, ‘Hottest Day’ on record for Australia as a whole as reported by the Climate Commission.
Consider how this translated into bush fire impacts during a two week period in NSW this summer of 2012-2013:
I lobbied my local council to take action, they have a destination management plan but it excludes any risk management consideration, even though we are in the third worst bush fire prone zone in Australia. After many emails they said they would review the situation at their next board meeting. The result was a questionnaire to ask if businesses had been affected by the recent bush fires. They also plan to hold a workshop. However, I am aware that the lack of connection between threat and action runs right down to the grass roots level. I have used my board position on the Tourism Industry Council NSW to present a paper on the threat of bush fire and methods on how to engage tourism provides. This was presented at the local government conference.. Key to encourage act is to present positive messages and lead with benefits rather than assault people with the need to spend money protecting them from a threat they cannot see. I strongly believe this is a method to also engage everyone in the developed world to change social practice and behaviour and consume less and reuse/recycle. I have published a paper to encourage policy and the Tourism Industry Council is now contacting the Rural Fire Services with my request to develop a joint programme to better prepare tourism providers. We have much to do, persuasive communication is key.
International Centre for Responsible Tourism - Australia
Tel: (02) 4465 1408
Responsible Tourism Blog www.chriswarrenonline.com.au
ICRT is a network of sister centres located in UK, Germany, Spain, Canada, Belize, West Africa.