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Last chance tourism affects local economies and environments

September 21st, 2016

As world heritage sites and natural formations begin to experience the effects of climate change, a mad dash of tourism has begun as people embark on mass exodus to view these historic and natural sights before they die out. Among the endangered sites are The Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras, The Everglades National Park in the United States, The Galapagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef, Machu Picchu and many others, USA Today reports. These locations now have noticeable signs of climate change from large coral die outs and bleachings in The Great Barrier Reef to excessive hunting and poaching leading to species wide die outs in the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve.

 

As these sites begin to deteriorate, tourism has spiked thanks to last chance tourists who hope to experience these natural wonders before they are gone. Vice reports that more than four million people travel to the Great Barrier Reef each year, however this year alone domestic visitors have jumped by 33.5 percent since March. Revenue from these tourism spikes has contributed to hundreds of local economies globally.  Parks have taken advantage of this influx of revenue and interest, instituting new programs and encouraging education in the subject of global

warming.   However, there have been downsides to this market boom.

 

As tourists flock to these sites they inadvertently add to the problem of global warming, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions with their travel.  There have also been several instances of tourists outright harming these sites, whether intentionally or accidentally.  The most recent example of this occurred on Sept. 6 when several of these visitors destroyed an 18 million year old rock formation at Oregon National State Park.

 

These visitors hopped over a fence and disregarded clear warning and keep out signs before intentionally destroying the beloved formation, NBC reports. It remains to be seen whether the phenomenon of last chance tourism will provide the funds and visibility necessary to aid these world heritage sites or if careless tourists will lead to their ultimate disappearance all together.