Friday, December 12, 2008

Hawaii tourism could dive if Waikiki beaches erode

By The Associated Press

HONOLULU — Hawaii's tourism-driven economy would plummet financially if the world-famous beaches in Waikiki vanish from erosion, according to a new report.

A $60,000 study financed by the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Waikiki Improvement Association estimates that a complete erosion of the Waikiki shoreline would make tourism tumble and trigger the loss of 6,000 jobs. It estimated the financial costs could reach as much as $2 billion a year in lost spending, lost jobs and more.

The study asked 500 visitors whether they would return to Waikiki if the beach were "completely eroded." Erosion is a problem along many Hawaii popular beaches. There is also the threat of sea level rise, but how long it would take for Waikiki's beaches to completely disappear is unclear.

Some estimate within a decade or two.

"The beach is going to disappear (if nothing is done)," said Chip Fletcher, a University of Hawaii coastal geology professor. "It's already gone along much of the Waikiki shoreline."

The state Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands said it would cost $30 million to protect the beach. It is now drafting a 10-year plan to fight erosion.

Meanwhile, the owner of at least one hotel, the Sheraton Waikiki, is preparing its own $4 million effort to fight erosion on the beach fronting its property. A public meeting on the plan is set for Dec. 17.

"Obviously, we're going to have to spend some money to maintain the beach," said Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association. "The purpose of the study was to get hard data of the value of the beach."

The report says about 58 percent of visitors from the U.S. and Canada would "not consider staying in Waikiki" if the beach were completely eroded. With visitors from Japan, the majority say they would return with just 14 percent saying that they would not come if the beach were gone.

The state in January 2007 completed a $475,000 demonstration project to pump 9,500 cubic yards of sands from offshore to Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. The project is supposed to be repeated within five years.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Seychelles Identify With Fate Of Pacific Islands


By Cherelle Jackson, Pacific Communications Team, Poznan, Poland
Sunday: December 07, 2008

The African islands of Seychelles today said they identified more with the threats facing Pacific islands due to climate change, more so than their own neighbours.
“The Seychelles and Maldives are similar to the Pacific islands, we have the same fears,” says Seychelles Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ronny Jumeau.

“We will lose 60 percent of our islands due to sea level rise, most of our neighbours do not have atolls. Although we are part of the same family we do not feel it. They do not speak the same way I do when it comes to climate change,” Jumeau said.
Speaking at the Development and Climate Days side event at the Conference of the Parties (COP) 14 in Poznan, Poland, Jumeau said his country fully supports the stance of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in demanding more proactive actions from developed countries.

“The new AOSIS position of 1.5 degrees (C), going beyond 40 percent emissions in 2020, going beyond 80 percent in 2050 is based on the latest science, therefore we support it wholeheartedly as this is the most realistic target for islands such as ours,” Jumeau said.
The idyllic image of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) portrayed in tourism marketing does not help the case of Seychelles and the Pacific, according to Jumeau.

The UN Representative says the reality of the situation faced by islands is blurred by the false perception that all is well.
“We are facing the same issues that the arctic experience, of all the things that are
happening in the world, the one factor that SIDS people in the tropics fear the most, is the melting of the icecaps at the poles, because it affects us eventually,” Jumeau said.

Chief Bill Erasmus of the Arctic Athabaskan Council, and representative of the Indigenous people’s movement says that preconceived imagery of countries affected by climate change does not help the cause.
“When you think of the arctic you think of the melting ice caps and the polar bears, you don’t really think of the people whose lives are going to change as a result,” Erasmus said.

According to him indigenous people like those of the Pacific stand to lose more than their homes as a result of climate change - cultures and ancestoral ties are at stake too.

Seychelles representative Jumeau believes that islands need to be united in the coming days to ensure the voice of SIDS are heard loud and clear.