More and more travellers are visiting disappearing places before they are gone. Picture: www.greatbarrierreef.org
An increasing number of travel decisions are being made based on the environmental impact of the trip and more far flung, vanishing places are being visited before they change or disappear forever. Driven by the millennial generation, who place a value on experience over material items, this ecotourism trend is making a fundamental impact on how and where we travel. For those wanting to flex their eco-friendly muscles, global travel search platform, Cheapflights.co.za, has shared their tips for traveling with less impact, and where to go before it is gone.
Going, going, gone – what to see before it disappears
With global warming, rising water levels and other pressures from climate change, some destinations will only be experiences by future generations through videos and photographs.
“Our data shows a growing long term trend of searches for travel to destinations that are under threat from increasing climate change pressure. This is likely driven by millennials and other generational groups that place an importance in experience-driven travel, and who have a desire and a sense of urgency to visit vulnerable destinations before they are irrevocably changed, explained Andrew Shelton, Managing Director of Cheapflights.co.za.
He shares the top five vanishing destinations to visit before it’s too late:
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The jewel of the North-Eastern Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, is the largest living thing on earth – visible even from space. Due to rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification due to the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, the tiny algae that live in the Reef, are stopping production of carbohydrates, instead producing toxic waste which causes the coral to expel the algae. The coral then turns white – a process referred to as bleaching. Estimates indicate that about 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has been affected by this epidemic. Some have predicted the Reef’s extinction to occur as soon as 2050.
The Dead Sea, bordering Jordan and Israel
Almost ten times as salty as the world’s oceans, the Dead Sea has long been a tourist attraction ,which many believe has healing properties. What tourists may not realise is that the Dead Sea is losing about 7.5 billion litres of water per year due to mining operations and the diversion of water from the Jordan River, the Dead Sea’s main source.
The Maldives, Indian Ocean
Known for its extensive reefs, blue lagoons and pristine beaches, The Maldives is in danger of disappearing into the ocean like the fabled city of Atlantis. At an average elevation of 1.5m above sea level, The Maldives is particularly susceptible to rises in ocean levels and could be completely submerged within the next 100 years, if water levels continue to swell.
The city of a thousand gondolas – Venice – is actually made up of over 100 small islands in a lagoon on the Adriatic Sea. It is a well-known fact that the city has been slowly sinking for centuries, but like The Maldives, rising sea levels threaten this beautiful city. Scientists have measured Venice’s descent and say that it is naturally sinking between 2mm and 10mm per year, and that the Adriatic Sea is rising by about 1mm simultaneously. These factors contribute to increase flooding, which happens during high tide about four times per year.
The European Alps
Representing one of the last wild spaces in Europe, the Alps are towering natural wonders, appreciated both for the skiing as well as the scenery. Over the past few years however the Alps have steadily been splitting into two contrasting climatic zones; precipitation has been decreasing in the south-east region, while snowfall in the north-west ranges have increased by roughly 10%, where mudslides and flooding are becoming common threats. These changing weather patterns, shrinking glaciers and rising temperatures will affect the mountains, but also the communities who rely on their resources.
The climate change threatening these beautiful places moves incrementally, so there is still time to visit them, and possibly, by supporting ecotourism practices, there is a chance of helping to maintain them for future generations.