Climate change and tourism in Tanzania

This study aims therefore to develop an integrated outlook for nature-based tourism in Tanzania. To achieve this, exploratory scenarios for the relevant ecosystem services will be developed. These scenarios integrate knowledge on climate variability and change, wildlife behavioural ecology and tourist preferences, and help to explore the implications for tourism, while acknowledging the main uncertainties involved. The research will be centred on two of Tanzania's hot spot nature-based tourist destinations; the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro landscapes.

Halima Kilunguh Hassan is doing her PhD research on the impacts of climate change on tourism in Tanzania. To this end, she integrates the available knowledge from different fields, producing exploratory scenarios. Halima is a Tanzanian sandwich PhD who spent the first eight months of 2012 in Wageningen and is currently doing fieldwork in Tanzania.

Tourism in Tanzania generates 17.5% of GDP and 25% of export earnings and is therefore a vital economic sector. An estimated 90% of tourists appreciate the services provided by landscapes and ecosystems, including mega-biodiversity, wildlife migration in Serengeti and Mt. Kilimanjaro’s snow cover.

The ecosystem services that tourism depends upon are threatened by climate variability and change, and other natural and societal factors. The Serengeti, for example, has lost 40% of its original area since 1910; the Mara River has lost 50% of its water flow since 1970, while Kilimanjaro has lost 82% of its ice cap in the last 90 years. These rates of change are projected to increase as climate change accelerates altering precipitation patterns, landscape features, ice-melting rates and animal migration patterns. There is some scientific understanding on many of the ecosystem dynamics and changes in ecosystem services as they respond to climate variability and change, and other driving forces. However the findings have not been integrated to provide an outlook for Tanzanian tourism and help tourism adapt to these changed conditions.