By RTCC Staff
People from the largest greenhouse emitting countries struggle to appreciate their environmental impact because they are so disconnected from the rest of the world, the Seychelles Environment and Energy Minister has said.
Tourism provides one means to change attitudes and awareness towards conservation and climate change, according to Prof. Rolph Payet. This in turn would make them put more pressure on their governments when they return home.
“People in rich countries don’t appreciate the consequences of their actions. They say if they can afford it, what is the problem? They don’t understand that their actions are destroying the planet,” said Payet.
“It would help if there was more awareness from voters. I have had the opportunity to travel and I understand why people in big countries think that way, they are so disconnected from the rest of the world. Tourism is a gateway that can help educate them,” he told RTCC.
“We’ve shown that this is possible. Where you have investments from tourism you can enhance the quality of the environment, you can enhance the protection of species. We’ve had animals come off the endangered list as a result of conservation action financed by tourism.”
To do this however, Payet says the environmental message must be repackaged to get away from the “treehugger” label.
“That makes people switch-off and think they are just going to be told don’t so this don’t do that. The message has to be friendlier, more understandable and we have to engage with tourists,” said Payet.
The low-lying Seychelles are vulnerable to rising sea level, increased storm surges and the effects of ocean acidification.
The Seychelles is launching tourist tree planting and ocean education programmes to engage rather than lecture visitors.