The research, by Annah Piggott-McKellar and Karen McNamara of University of Queensland, marks the first time the trend has been identified in connection with the GBR.
The authors found that the publicly documented decline in the reef’s health had led to its being labelled a “last chance” destination, even though there was no empirical evidence that this was the case.
The researchers questioned in detail 235 tourists on-site, and found that the “last-chancers” were those people most concerned about the health of the GBR, worried mainly about coral bleaching/disease and climate change. However, they found that other significant threats to the reef, such as agricultural run-off, were not regarded as of great concern.
Last-chance tourists were found to be predominantly older, more environmentally conscious females visiting the region for the first time and from further away than other visitors.
The report pointed out the paradox that tourists were travelling greater distances to view a destination which they regarded as at risk, in the process exacerbating the impacts of climate change. However, the respondents’ concern about the environmental effects of tourism were only moderate to low.
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