In light of Earth Day, this Saturday on April 22, today we feature the growing industry of “Last-Chance Tourism.”
Last-Chance Tourism is the rising travel trend of tourists flocking to see the rapidly vanishing corners of the Earth. “See it before it disappears” goes the slogan.
Thanks to climate change and changing socio-political climates, many places on Earth are changing irrevocably and might vanish altogether. The trend shows, optimistically, how many travelers are conscious about the environmental changes in our world.
But conscious is not the same as conscientious. The paradox of Last-Chance Tourism is that it invites a concentration of travelers to these spots, threatening an already-sensitive environment. Places like Venice, Machu Picchu and Antarctica have all been in the headlines in recent years as under threat of over-saturation. Badly planned tours in these areas may increase carbon emissions, population pressure, and pollution.
So what can a conscientious traveler do? Book with a sustainable tour operator.
Why is Sustainable Tourism so Important?
Sustainable tourism is more important than ever. Tourism done well can be an eye-opening experience. Sustainable tour operators help raise awareness of local issues and promote conservation efforts. For this reason, we like to focus on such tour guides in our ongoing blog post series “The Conscientious Traveler.”
Four Chances for Last-Chance Tourism
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef has suffered irreparable damage and is expected to collapse by 2100. As we reported in last month’s travel news, hundreds of miles of the reef were recently confirmed dead by overheated seawater and reef bleaching. Tour guides naturally will be taking tourists to the places still surviving and thriving.
Glacier National Park
It’s no secret that the glaciers in Glacier National Park, Montana, are receding. As Time magazine confirmed, the park could be glacier-free by 2030. This is the time to visit the glaciers before they disappear altogether.
The Maldives are luxurious islands in South Pacific and a scuba diver’s haven. The islands make up the world’s lowest country and are at risk of sinking thanks to rising water levels. Experts predict the Maldives will submerge within the next 30 years.
The Galapagos islands have always had a fragile ecosystem. Tourism comes with strains and impacts on the environment that might not be apparent immediately but will have an impact for years to come.
What can you do?
- Stay informed about the ecological issues and efforts in the destination.
- Book a sustainable tour or hotel that donates to sustainable organizations.
- Donate to an environmental cause once on the ground.
Willamette Intl Travel tries to use socially responsible tour operators whenever possible. Read more about the many sustainable tour operators that we work with in our Conscientious Traveler Series here on the blog!
Please let your Willamette Intl Travel Agent know if this is important to your travel plans and we’ll design a trip that’s right for you.