Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has become the latest entry in the “See-it-Before-it’s-Gone” brand of tourism. The reef suffered its worst year of bleaching with one study estimating that up to 93 percent of the reef shows signs of bleaching as a result of climate change. The Australian government took steps to hide news of the reef’s health out of fear it would drive away tourism. But, in spite of these efforts, a survey from the Journal of Sustainable Tourism has reported that 70 percent of the reef’s visitors were primarily there “to see the reef before it’s gone.”
Anyone worried that their presence would be damaging shouldn’t let that prevent them from visiting the World Heritage site. “Some tourists do cause limited physical damage, but this pales in comparison to what’s done by cyclones, bleaching, and crown-of-thorns starfish,” said reef scientist Peter Mumby.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor's Great Barrier Reef Guide