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The Blue Yonder (TBY) has been in the business of sustainable travel and tourism since early 2004 in India. We have built a strong network of partnerships across the country through which we offer experiential holidays in more than thirty destinations throughout India. During these years the impact of Climate Change has morbidly escalated towards climate crisis. Communities that we work with have been directly and cripplingly impacted by the effects of this climate crisis.
The 2006 Tsunami, 2009 Cyclone Aila, 2015 Chennai rains and further flooding, 2017 Cyclone Ockhi, 2018 and 2019 Kerala floods and landslides, were some of the major climate change related disasters that affected our community partners.
These climate disasters have proven fatal to so many we work with; the injuries, the loss of possessions and livelihoods, and the struggle to rebuild lives are far too real for us and our community partners. It is common knowledge that travel and tourism has been significantly impacted by these disasters. Dealing with a deluge of cancellations and last-minute changes have had serious financial repercussions for all of us, including TBY. Our home state Kerala will incur 5 billion USD to rebuild a better Kerala in the backdrop of 2018 Floods and landslides where we lost more than 490 lives. Interestingly the annual turn over for Kerala Tourism is also approximately five billion USD, adding up to ten percentage of states GDP, showing how vulnerable the travel industry is as well.
Through concerted efforts in the past 14 years, we have been able to collaborate with various stakeholders, like local governments, affected communities, civil society organizations, and the travel industry to assist in community rebuilding. This has ranged from online crowd-funding for communities, in partnership with travel industry partners during Cyclone Aila; coordinating open street mapping initiatives during the Nepal Earthquake; being first responders during Chennai and Kerala floods, and co-creating innovative rehabilitation initiatives like Chekutty – The beacon of resilience in 2018.
The global tourism industry is an 8 trillion USD economy that directly benefits one out of ten adults, it also contributes to 8% of greenhouse gas emissions resulting in global warming and exacerbating the climate crisis. However businesses promoting responsible tourism have also been at the forefront of positively contributing to sustainable development of destinations and communities. In this scenario we have been increasingly observing the need for the sustainable development sector, a responsible tourism sector, and the humanitarian sector to come together to address the imminent Climate Emergency looming over us.
As we join like minded companies and agencies in the tourism sector to announce a Climate emergency based on our past experiences, we will be committing ourselves towards helping build capacities of the communities and destinations we work with to be resilient (to Climate Crisis). Since 2011, we have been working on a Climate Change Resistant Food initiative in Kerala with a focus on building food security as well equip the community to respond to an ensuing disaster similar to the Kerala floods.
One of our community partners in this project remarked, “It took six years and a flood for us to understand the seriousness of Climate Crisis” ; we do not want this to be the way forward. We as part of the travel industry need to invest in the communities with a more nuanced understanding and skills to help ameliorate the precarity of climate crises that constantly displaces and destabilizes the lives of so many.
Towards that effort the Blue Yonder proposes to:
*Replicate and scale the model of Climate Change Resistant Food Initiatives (like Pokkali – The story of a rice) through partnerships across the country.
*The Blue Yonder is initiating work with communities, governments and travel industry to co-create resilient destinations where we take proactive steps to reduce carbon emissions.
*The Blue Yonder will facilitate sustainable development while building capacities of destinations to overcome ensuring disasters by focusing on Disaster Risk Reduction.
*All future destination development and promotions we undertake will have the key vertical of Climate Change adaptability, while anchored in the triple bottom line sustainability concerns addressing economic, socio-cultural, and environmental impacts.
*The Blue Yonder will take the lead to document and record stories of change in the background of climate crisis for local and global tourism industry.
*Our website and social media handles will be quarterly updated with details of our interventions
More details on Tourism Declares Climate Emergency Network here.
Copyright 2014 The Blue Yonder