Ecotourism as A Climate Adaption Tool: Perspectives from Local Tourism Stakeholders in Lunenburg
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Climate change has posed risks to tourism industries and many coastal communities concurrently on the Canadian east coast (Lemmen et al., 2016). Future strategic planning must incorporate environmental, social, and economic considerations to adapt. However, as one major stakeholder, local tourism stakeholders' perspectives on climate adaptation in the tourism sector remain under-researched. The problem is believed to be more prevalent in small coastal communities. The municipality of the district of Lunenburg is chosen as a case study because of: • its vulnerability to climate change impacts such as coastal erosion and storm surge. • Its vulnerability as a small coastal community is dependent on tourism. • its threats of losing its UNESCO World Heritage status due to recurring damage and inaccessibility of tourist sites or operations. Because of ecotourism's primary focus on natural areas, conservation, local communities, and culture (Fennell, 2001), this study recognizes its potential to help the local community and the tourism industry in Lunenburg enhance the town's resilience to a changing climate. Thus, this study seeks to examine the view of tourism stakeholders from Lunenburg relating to ecotourism as a climate adaptation strategy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants selected from the sector based on their organizations' relevance to ecotourism. Interview results show respondents strongly emphasize environmentally friendly when interpreting the ecotourism concept. Their understanding of the term generally conforms with literature's most recognizable ecotourism definitions, such as natural areas and education. Although ecotourism has rarely been applied in climate adaptation, key informants favor considering ecotourism as a climate adaptation strategy for the sector. They believe ecotourism possesses massive potential in providing scientific, historical, and traditional knowledge education to visitors besides its eco-friendly focus. it is commonly agreed that ecotourism development in Lunenburg would benefit from appropriate investments in the tourism industry, nature conservation, as well as promotion of the tourism sector in Nova Scotia in principle. Keywords: climate adaption, small coastal community, tourism industry, stakeholders’ perspectives, ecotourism, resilience.