An increasing number of travel decisions are being made based on the environmental impact of the trip, thus more far flung and vanishing places are being visited before they change or disappear forever. This ecotourism trend which is spearheaded by millennials is making a fundamental impact on how and where we travel. Global travel search platform, Cheapflights, has shared their tips for traveling with less impact, and where to go before it is gone.
“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,” says Andrew Shelton, Managing Director of Cheapflights.co.za.
He shares the top five vanishing destinations to visit before it’s too late:
1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The jewel of 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 as a result of the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, the tiny algae that live in the Reef are stopping the production of carbohydrates. Instead, they are producing toxic waste which causes the coral to expel the algae. Some have predicted the Reef’s extinction to occur as soon as 2050.
Prices start at R17 378 from OR Tambo to Cairns Airport, the nearest gateway.
2. The Dead Sea, bordering Jordan and Israel
Almost 10 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 a year due to mining operations and the diversion of water from the Jordan River, the Dead Sea’s main source.
Prices start at R8 560 from OR Tambo to Queen Alia International Airport.
3. 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.
Prices from OR Tambo to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport start at R12 275.
4. Venice, Italy
The city of a thousand gondolas – Venice – is actually made up of over 100 small islands in a lagoon on the Adriatic Sea. 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.
Prices start from R7 698 leaving from OR Tambo to Marco Polo Airport.
5. The European Alps
Representing one of the last wild spaces in Europe, the Alps are towering natural wonders, appreciated both for skiing as well as the scenery. Over the past few years, however, the Alps have steadily been splitting into two contrasting climatic zones, resulting in changing weather patterns, shrinking glaciers and rising temperatures that affect the mountains, but also the communities who rely on their resources.
The climate change threatening these beautiful places moves incrementally, so there’s still time to visit them, and possibly, by supporting ecotourism practices, there’s a chance of helping to maintain them for future generations.
Flight prices start at R7,634 from Johannesburg to Nice (one of the nearest airports).