For most of you, travelling the whole world is probably one of the biggest dreams you want to fulfill in your lifetime. There are lots of wonders in this planet which have already been discovered while others still remain a mystery to be unraveled. The Great Barrier Reef, which stretches more than 1, 400 miles, is among these natural wonders of the world found in Australia.
The Great Barrier Reef is basically the biggest coral reef system composed of more than 2,000 individual reefs and 900 islands. Soft and hard coral decorate the barrier which serves as the natural habitat of tons of precious species such as the amazingly rare and colorful fish and 6 out of the 7 species of threatened marine turtles.
Sadly, recent reports revealed that the Great Barrier Reef, which is a fragile empire according to the National Geographic, has suffered this year from the worst case scenario of coral bleaching ever recorded. In fact, a scientific study estimated that around 93% of the reef showed signs of bleaching, primarily as the result of the much dreaded but extremely felt climate change.
Just like The Galapagos Islands, Australia is facing a perilous situation on the most tragic area of hospitality industry, none other than last-chance tourism.
A few months back, the government of Australia was successful in quelling information about the reef’s unhealthy and delicate state in the fear that this will drive away their tourism industry which is estimated to bring in $5.2 billion annually.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism’s survey discovered that about 70% of visitors to The Great Barrier Reef expressed their desire of seeing the reef before it is gone. This has been cited as the main reason why they travel to the World Heritage-listed site that expands 3000 kilometers off the Queensland coast.
Since March this year, the country’s domestic visitors reached 33.5% which hit a record number of visitors because of a weakening economy. This is what makes it more cost effective to travel to the place right now.
Although it is easy to guess that tourism activities such as diving, snorkeling and others can pollute and further damage the reef, the truth is that the effects of tourism actually happen to be very positive.
While tourists cause some limited physical damages, there is nothing in comparison to the impacts of bleaching, cyclones and crown of thorns starfish. With the increased value of Great Barrier Reef tourism, it will be easier to justify the investment of the government in the management of the reef.
Having said this, it seems that the biggest and most crucial threats to the Great Barrier Reef are climate change and coral bleaching as a result. Coral bleaching takes place the moment the coral gets stressed by the increased water temperatures or pollution which can cause it to expel living algae it house and become stark white.
Coral will be able to survive these bleaching events. However, if it remains bleached for a longer time and if the event has higher intensity, it is more likely for death to take place. The coral death toll in the most affected central and northern sections of the reef is estimated at 35% as of this moment.
So, while you still have the time, book your trip to the Great Barrier Reef right away before it’s too late.