Vulnerability and Adaptation of The Tourism Sector to Climate Change in Nairobi, Coast and Central Tourist Circuits in Kenya
Tourism heavily relies on climate as a resource but is highly climate-sensitive. Evidence has shown that a certain amount of climate change has occurred. Africa is considered as one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the effects of climate change. At a local scale, Kenya‘s substantial arid and semi-arid and coastline increases its vulnerability. In addition, overreliance of a lean natural resource base for tourism puts the sector into increasing risk. Documentation of vulnerability and adaptation of Africa and more so tourism to climate change is limited. Different stakeholders agree that there is need to improve response initiatives geared towards mitigation and adaptation. This study seeks to assist tourism and other stakeholders reduce vulnerability and improve adaptation efforts. To facilitate this, a critical review of relevant literature was undertaken and a comprehensive countrywide bottom-up approach assessment of vulnerability and adaptation of tourism to climate change was carried out. This was done by exploring the impacts of climate change on the tourism sector from both supply and demand side and the resultant adaptation practices, analyzing the policy framework in Kenya and estimating the vulnerability level, using explanatory sequential design. Through triangulation, information was sought from tourists, hotel managers and tourism / climate change experts from three major tourism regions in Kenya. A total of 36 hotel managers and 352 tourists filled questionnaires whose results were verified by 20 experts. Further, tourists numbers were compared against precipitation over a 40 year period. Content analysis, Chi-Square, ANOVA, correlation and regression are among the statistical methods used for data analysis. Results generally indicated that climate change impacts are currently affecting the tourism sector in the country and that the supply side is more affected by these impacts than the demand side. Sensitivity of tourism to climate change depends on the type of indicators; the source market; the purpose of travel; the age of tourists; the class of accommodation facilities and marital status. Exposure depends on the type of climate change indicators; the geographical location of tourist facilities and the nature of occurrence of the indicators. Furthermore, although the industry has put commendable efforts towards adaptations, the sector is faced by several challenges such as lack of information and finances. Policy analysis shows that although Kenya has made commendable efforts towards formulating policies on climate change, most content of these policies is not based on primary research. The regression coefficients of determination for the perception of the tourists concerning importance of weather and climate change indicators is explained by 78.9% of the variance (Radj = 0.789), while that of that of the hotel managers is explained by 97.9% of the variance (Radj = 0.979). From the regression analysis, it can be concluded that vulnerability depends on direct indicators, general indicators, indirect indicators and weather factors and magnitude of impacts on resources, infrastructure; facilities; activities; and services. Further, a Vulnerability Scoping Diagramme (VSD) for tourism was constructed in order to describe the current vulnerability of tourism to climate change impacts in Kenya. Generally, the tourism sector in the country is found to be highly sensitive, highly exposed, with moderate adaptive capacity and therefore highly vulnerable. Finally, a conceptual model for vulnerability assessment for the tourism sector was developed. Further research is suggested on the implications of climate change policies on tourism operators and the economic impacts of climate change on tourism resources.