Coastal towns face major threat

24 June 2016 - 09:51 By Tanya Farber

Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay are two of many popular holiday spots that face major threats to their tourism industry because of climate change. Between 1978 and 2014 "climate change experienced in recent decades has detrimentally affected tourist comfort" in the two towns, says a study published in the South African Journal of Science.It also found that by 2050 the two towns are likely to see flooding caused by sharp rises in sea level.The researchers added that many other coastal towns are threatened."Climate change poses a considerable threat to low-lying coastal towns. Possible risks include flooding induced by sea-level rise, and increased discomfort from changes in temperature and precipitation," says Wits researcher Jennifer Fitchett, adding that other risks include "more frequent extreme events, biodiversity shifts, and water shortages".Alice Kingman, a regular holidaymaker to Cape St Francis, said: "I haven't really noticed a difference but that is the nature of climate change I think. It creeps up on you and then one day when natural disasters hit, you maybe don't join the dots."On a personal note, it makes me too sad to think of this place or any other place in South Africa in ruins because of us not planning ahead."Tourism is a growing sector in South Africa, and it contributes considerably to the local economy .The country also has many small towns that are economically "dependent on tourism", which makes this type of information crucial.According to Gina Ziervogel, a climate change expert at the African Climate and Development Initiative at UCT, "communities, households and individuals have a wealth of knowledge that can be shared about the practices and ways in which they respond".

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day, Financial Mail or Rand Daily Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.