Last Chance Tourism? See it before it sinks!!


The travel professor is in Kirbati.
Where in the world is Kiribati? It’s right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
You may well have heard of it because of climate change. It is one of the
countries that is most affected by climate change because it’s a low-lying
atoll country. There’s 33 different islands and I’m in the capital in Tarawa.
Tarawa is home to over 50% of the around about 110,000 citizens
of Kiribati, spread over those 33 Islands and South Tarawa in particular
is quite crowded. The colonial name for Kiribati was the Gilbert Islands but
Kiribati gained independence on July 12 1979. Well in Kiribati, we say Mauri is
“good health to you” and is the welcome greeting so when you’re over here and meet a i-Kiribati “Mauri” and here’s another tip about the language: in Kiribati, we say the ‘t’ as an ‘s’ so be knowledgeable, read up,
don’t say Kiribati, say Kiribati and in case you’re wondering, yes I also found
the ferris wheel behind me to be quite an unusual sight to come across in
Tarawa. Behind me is the lagoon and just on the
other side of the road is the ocean so it’s these causeways that connect the
different islands along South Tarawa that you can really see the potential
devastation and disaster that climate change is going to wreak due to sea
level rises. The island of Tarawa was the site of a lot of action in World War II.
The Japanese occupied Tarawa and then the US Navy bombed it and took it back.
Behind me is a Japan Command Bunker and there’s lots of other World War II
relics that may be of interest to tourists who are interested in
historical tourism or dark tourism. The Americans tried to land on this beach in
the Battle of Tarawa. This is known as Green Beach but they
were unsuccessful because the Japanese had laid lots of land mines. Behind me you can still see some of the artillery. Behind me is the lagoon and just on
the other side of the road is the ocean so it’s these causeways that connect the
different islands along South Tarawa that you can really see the potential
devastation and disaster that climate change is going to wreak due to sea
level rises. In the past, tourism to Kiribati has
mostly been related to business such as aid workers coming, some visit friends
and relatives and also bucket list tourism that’s where tourists who want
to visit all 196 countries or at least a 100 countries just come to Kiribati
to get the stamp in the passport. We saw some of that in Tuvalu when I covered,
when I covered Tuvalu as well but Kiribati is really trying to expand its
leisure tourism and, although access is problem, it’s got some great natural resources: the blue of the lagoon
you hardly get anywhere else in the world and then you can see on the other
side, ocean this causeway again shows the impact of climate change on Small Island Developing States. So there’s a certain paradox with
gaining more tourists to Kiribati which they’re trying to grow: the government
has made it a priority. The paradox is that to get most tourists to come to
Kiribati is to fly and flying and air transportation is one of the major
contributors in terms of greenhouse gas emissions which leads to climate change
climate disaster more appropriately which is detrimental to the livelihoods
of the Kiribati people. So more tourists: good for the economy
you know, job opportunities, balance of payments contributions, giving people
worthwhile employment however it’s the very thing that will contribute to
climate change. That’s a conundrum for Kiribati.

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