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Visits to the Great Barrier Reef an example of ‘last chance tourism’

Visits to the Great Barrier Reef an example of ‘last chance tourism’
October 8, 2016

Many tourists heading to see the Great Barrier Reef are hoping to ‘see it before it’s gone’, an example of the growing phenomena of what its known as ‘last chance tourism (LCT)’.

Annah Piggott-McKellar and Karen McNamara from the University of Queensland explain the concept of ‘LCT’ in the current issue of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, writing “LCT is a niche tourism market focused on witnessing and experiencing a place before it disappears.

“This tourism market can also be referred to as climate change, disappearing or vanishing, doom, dying, endangered or ‘see it before it’s gone’ tourism.”

As Piggott-McKellar and McNamara note, at the heart of LCT is a paradox: the tourists scrambling to visit a particular site ‘before it’s gone’ are themselves contributing to its destruction.

Population pressure, on-site activities associated with access and carbon emission related to travel can cause a site to deteriorate further, thus raising its ‘destination status’ by being in greater danger and creating more demand for visits.

To investigate this paradox, and learn more about what motivates tourists to travel to the Great Barrier Reef, the pair questioned over 230 visitors to the site last year.

Overall, the data suggested that just under 70% of respondents were ‘strongly motivated’ to see the Reef ‘before it’s gone’ – the first concrete evidence of the Great Barrier Reef having become an LCT destination.

‘Last chance tourists’ were found to be predominantly “older, more environmentally conscious females who are visiting the region for the first time and who have travelled greater distances, both on a domestic and international scale.”

Those seeking a ‘last chance experience’ were also more likely to be concerned about the health of the reef – in particular coral bleaching and climate change, both of which, incidentally, would have an effect on a tourist’s experience of the site.

Piggott-McKellar and McNamara explained “this finding was of interest, as it emphasises the paradox involved in LCT, in that tourists are travelling greater distances to view the destination that is in danger, contributing higher levels of emissions and thus exacerbating the impacts of climate change.”

In contrast, the tourists surveyed only had moderate to low concern about the impact of the tourist industry or other destructive factors on the reef itself. That tourists do not associate their own travel to the reef with damage is part of the paradox of LCT.

This study provides an important baseline for further research into travel to the GBR. It also provides insight into the need to improve tourists’ awareness of real threats to the reef, which includes the tourists themselves, among a host of other threats.

Click here to read the full article in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

Images: Snorkelling at Fitzroy Island (top) and Quicksilver's Barrier Reef pontoon (below)

10th September 2016 - UNITED NATIONS DECLARES 2017 AS THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM FOR DEVELOPMENT

1st September 2016 - WTTC CHALLENGES TOURISM BUSINESSES TO SHOW HOW SUSTAINABLE THEY ARE

27th June 2016 - CLIMATE CHANGE A MASSIVE THREAT TO GLOBAL HERITAGE AND TOURISM

14th June 2016 - EARTHCHECK AND GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY PARTNER ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

7th May 2016 - GREAT BARRIER REEF TOURISM OPERATORS CALL FOR ACTION TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE 

2nd June 2012 - UNESCO REPORT SLAMS GREAT BARRIER REEF MANAGEMENT

11th August 2009 - HARM TO BARRIER REEF WOULD COST TOURISM $37 BILLION 

28th April 2009 - FITZROY ISLAND RESORT GOES INTO RECEIVERSHIP


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The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

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Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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