Tomorrow’s tourists may have to take Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Croatia’s Dalmatian Coastline off their destination wish list. Climate change and tourism damage mean that, like the Seven Wonders of the World, certain sites and attractions could be in danger of disappearing by 2020.
The Future of Travel Report*, by travel insurer Churchill, assesses the future prospects of today’s travel destinations. It reveals that World Heritage sites and other tourist destinations popular today, may be permanently closed or restricted by visitor capping or will remain at risk of irreparable damage.
Areas of environmental and historical significance such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Everglades or Kathmandu Valley, are likely to have reached visitor capacity by 2020. Such destinations may opt to minimise visitor numbers by continually raising entry costs or by charging additional taxes. It is likely that some destinations will go as far as to introduce visitor capping where travellers will either have to ‘win’ or ‘earn’ the right to holiday in a particular place via a holiday lottery.
Some tourist areas, particularly those which involve long haul flights from the UK, may require travellers to store up ‘air mile credits’ based on their personal needs and their overall energy use. Additionally, the social contributions that travellers put back into the communities they visit, may be considered before being granted visitation rights to a particular destination.
The report, issued in conjunction with think tank The Centre for Future Studies, reveals the top ten places that are at risk as holiday destinations by 2020:
Country Place Effect by 2020
Spain, Puerto de Mazarron, (South-Eastern Spain). Malaria has already resurfaced in Spain and parts of the country may become suitable habitat for malaria-bearing mosquitos. Flash floods, heat stress and forest fires may also become more prevalent.
USA, Everglades, Florida This sub-tropical area of swamps, marshes and lakes is designated ‘at risk’ particularly in light of increasing hurricane danger.
Greece Athens, Crete
Increases in summer temperatures to above 40C will reduce personal comfort and lead to more heat stress and associated mortality.
A combination of high temperatures and scarce water supplies will have an impact on Crete. Creeping desertification may severely impact the landscape there.
Germany, Cologne Cathedral. Recently designated an ‘at risk’ sightseeing spot, environmental pollution may irreparably damage this monument where the repair work is on-going.
Croatia, Dalmatian Coastline. The last unspoilt Mediterranean coastline - of pristine waters, mediaeval towns and unspoilt beaches - may not survive the forecasted explosion in tourist visits.
Nepal, Kathmandu Valley. A designated ‘at risk’ area with its unique architecture set against the Himalayan peaks, holiday-makers should get there before the Himalayan ski market takes hold.
Australia, Great Barrier Reef. One of the world’s largest marine ecosystems is at risk from increasing visits from cruise ships.
Italy, Amalfi Coast and Tuscany. The number of heat waves is forecast to rise dramatically, suffering unbearably hot and humid nights. The region will be at increasing risk of fire, seeing at least 20 more dry days per year.
India, Goa Coastal zones that support the tourist trade will suffer from beach erosion. More powerful cyclones are also predicted raising the probability of wind damage and coastal flooding.
Maldives, Taj Coral Reef. At best, a rise in sea level would cause coastal erosion in the Maldives, and at worst a sizeable proportion of the landmass could become submerged. The coral reefs could also be destroyed.
Mike Ketteringham, Head of Churchill Travel Insurance commented:
“The report highlights that destinations we are used to hearing about or have on our wish list to visit one day may no longer be feasible tourist attractions for the majority of holiday-makers.
“By identifying areas at risk from tourist damage and climate change now, we can encourage tourists who are visiting these places to consider the environmental impact their visit is having, and in doing so hopefully extend the life of the destination for future generations of holiday makers.”
*Report into the Future of Travel prepared on behalf of Churchill Travel Insurance by The Centre for Future Studies in January 2006.