The scientific community has warned about the impact climate change has on the world. Despite the potential consequences there is little agreement on potential solutions to this looming problem. The implications on various businesses are enormous. One such company that stands to be impacted by climate change is Apple Leisure Group’s subsidiary AMResorts (AMR), which is a hotel and brand management company with all-inclusive beachfront resorts in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and numerous other locations in the Caribbean. AMResorts has contracts with over 60 properties and has a total of more than 22,000 rooms in 30 different destinations.[i]
By the year 2100, scientists have estimated that a global sea-level rise of 2.6 feet is likely and that up to 6.6 feet is possible depending on the effects of warmed air and ocean water on ice fields.[ii] Several island nations are already submerged or are at risk of being submerged while much of the world’s largest cities are also in danger of submersion given that they are in low-lying coastal areas.[iii] Recent trends indicate that the sea level in the Caribbean is rising at a similar level to the global average.[iv] This is a large economic problem as tourism is the largest economic sector in the Caribbean based on GDP and employment with international tourists bringing in more than $25 billion in the Caribbean and $3 billion to the Yucatan Peninsula in 2010.[v],[vi]
The impact of the above on AMResorts is clear: if the sea levels continue to rise as predicted much of their ocean front resorts will be submerged and thus the economic viability of the company is in jeopardy as rebuilding hotels on new coastlines is an expensive measure. To date, AMResorts has focused on achieving sustainable practice certifications with 25 of 60 properties certified in the Mexico and Caribbean, representing an expansion in the program of over 30%. To qualify, resorts must demonstrate a commitment to minimize environmental footprint while supporting local culture and the surrounding community. By participating in such a program, AMResorts is attempting to pull its own weight in curbing the root cause of climate change.
However, tackling the root cause of climate change takes a commitment larger than solely AMResorts as temperatures will likely continue to rise leading to a continued rise in sea levels. AMResorts should consider short term adaptations, perhaps in partnership with other resorts, to combat a rising sea level to maximize the longevity of their resorts. Such adaptations, including replacing eroded sand and building protective concrete walls, are unfortunately only temporary measures. Future resort plans should include planning for beach erosion by placing new resorts further back from the coast line to give the beaches room to move and rise. In addition, AMResort should enhance awareness with clients to bring attention to the issue of the rising sea level on the places that are often beloved by visiting tourists. The problems of climate change extend far beyond the AMResorts, and a global effort is necessary to help combat such issues.
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[i] “AMResorts Development Chart” (PDF). AMResorts Media Site. July 11, 2016. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
[ii] Pfeffer, W.T., et al. 2008. Kinematic constraints on glacier contributions to 21st–century sea–level rise. Science 321(1340). doi:10.1126/science.1159099. Online at http://www.sciencemag.org/content/321/5894/1340.abstract.
[iii] Nell Greenfieldboyce, “”Study: 634 Million Pepople at Risk from Rising Seas,” National Public Radio, March 28, 2007.
[iv] Church, J. A., et al. 2004. Estimates of the regional distribution of sea level rise over the 1950–2000 period. Journal of Climate 17:2609–2625. doi:10.1175/1520–0442(2004)017<2609:EOTRDO>2.0.CO;2. Online at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520 0442%282004%29017%3C2609%3AEOTRDO%3E2.0.CO%3B2.
[v] World Travel and Tourism Council. 2004. The Caribbean: The impact of travel & tourism on jobs and the economy. London, UK. Online at http://www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/Publications_Studies.php. Cited in Simpson, M.C., S. Gössling, and D. Scott. 2008. Report on the international policy and market response to global warming and the challenges and opportunities that climate change issues present for the Caribbean tourism sector. Barbados: Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Programme, Caribbean Tourism Organization. Online at http://www.caribtdp.org/index.php?Z=16
[vi] World Travel and Tourism Council. Travel and tourism economic impact 2011: Caribbean. London, UK. Online a: http://www.wttc.org/site_media/uploads/downloads/caribbean2.pdf.