Assessing adaptive capacity and adaptation: insights from Samoan tourism operators


Many of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are known to be very vulnerable to climate change impacts. This is particularly so where national economies are highly dependent on tourism-related revenue. Yet, little is known of the adaptive capacities of tourism providers in SIDS and how they respond to climate variability and change. This research uses a case study of Samoa, a Pacific island nation, that is highly dependent on beach tourism and already vulnerable to a variety of natural hazards. The research examines the adaptive capacity of tourism operators in Samoa and the ways in which Fa‘asamoa (the Samoan way of life) is a fundamental part of how tourism operators plan for and respond to climate variability and extremes. The findings indicate that key components of adaptive capacity for Samoan tourism operators include their past experiences of extreme events, access to resources, social networks, and worldviews. In many cases, Samoan cultural values and socio-cultural governance systems play a critical role in how adaptation takes place. In the Samoan context, this means that an indigenous Samoan tourism operator is rarely one individual, but a part of a wider social network, which influences how a business can or cannot adapt to climate variability and change and hazards.