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The influence of hurricane risk on tourist destination choice in the Caribbean
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Dr Johanna Forster
Forster J, Schuhmann PW, Lake IR, Watkinson AW, Gill JA
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Climate change could have major implications for the global tourism industry if changing environmental conditions alter the attractiveness of holiday destinations. Countries with economies dependent on tourism and with tourism industries reliant on vulnerable natural resources are likely to be particularly at risk. We investigate the implications that climate-induced variations in Atlantic hurricane activity may have for the tourism-dependent Caribbean island of Anguilla. Three hundred tourists completed standardised questionnaires and participated in a choice experiment to determine the influence hurricane risk has on their risk perceptions and decisions regarding holiday preferences. The hurricane season had been considered by 40 % of respondents when making their holiday choice, and the beaches, climate and tranquility of the island were more important than coral reef-based recreational activities in determining holiday destination choice. Choice models demonstrated that respondents were significantly less likely to choose holiday options where hurricane risk is perceived to increase, and significantly more likely to choose options that offered financial compensation for increased risk. However, these choices and decisions varied among demographic groups, with older visitors, Americans, and people who prioritize beachbased activities tending to be most concerned about hurricanes. These groups comprise a significant component of the island’s current clientele, suggesting that perceived increases in hurricane risk may have important implications for the tourism economy of Anguilla and similar destinations. Improved protection of key environmental features (e.g. beaches) may be necessary to enhance resilience to potential future climate impacts.
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