Climate change and Caribbean tourism: modelling adaptation and vulnerability

Published on
August 14, 2014

Funded through an NWO research grant, a PhD project on climate change and Caribbean tourism will start in November. It is entitled: "Vulnerability is dynamic: Enhancing adaptive governance to climate change for Caribbean tourism through interactive modelling." SENSE honours student Jillian Student will carry out the project, under daily supervision of Machiel Lamers (ENP) and Bas Amelung. The promoter is Arthur Mol (ENP). In the project, Jillian will take a close look at processes of climate change adaptation in the Caribbean tourism industry.

Millions of tourists visit Caribbean islands annually to enjoy resort properties, beaches and coral reefs. Coastal tourism destinations, however, are under threat from climate change manifested by sea level rise and intensifying hurricanes.  Adaptation is crucial to limit the harm to local people. Tourism adaptation policies are informed by an expanding yet static scientific understanding of the ecological and social vulnerabilities involved. This research takes a dynamic approach and uses agent-based modelling (ABM) to engage local actors in interactive modelling to analyse vulnerability and adaptive governance strategies as they change over time in response to natural processes and social interactions.

The study will be one of the first applications of agent-based modelling techniques to tourism issues. Jillian has already acquired considerable knowledge of and expertise in agent-based modelling. She followed an ABM-course, used the methodology for her MSc thesis on Antarctic tourism and contributed to an ABM-project at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, NIAS.