Time is Running Out on These Tourist Sites

Each year, millions of people flock to the abundance of natural and man-made wonders accessible to tourists around the world. People travel for different reasons: business, research, leisure and adventure, just to name a few. But one thing is clear — the tourism industry has expanded in recent years and, with it, the impact it has on the frequented sites.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourism generated $1.6 trillion in U.S. export earnings in 2017, and Florida tourism alone has a $67 billion dollar impact on the economy. For many reasons, the growth of the travel industry has been positive. Tourism stimulates local economies through increased sales, allows people to experience new cultures and establishes intercultural connections; however, it is impossible to ignore the effect it has had on treasured locations. Tourism increases air and water pollution, and heavy foot traffic on historic sites can cause erosion and other damage.

Just a short drive from campus, the Florida Everglades are feeling the impact of environmental changes and heavy tourism. In addition to the devastation they suffered after Hurricane Irma, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and tourism have damaged the ecosystem — making it a top priority on many travelers’ lists of places to see. So, from the local waters of the Florida Everglades to flood waters of Venice, here are some famous sites you should visit before it’s too late.

Cinque Terre, Italy

This quaint string of centuries-old Italian villages is known for its colorful houses, vineyards and spectacular ocean views. In recent years, overcrowding and heavy tourism has taken its toll on the fragile city, causing damage to the historic structures and provoking landslides due to the vertical nature of the town’s construction. According to The Telegraph, authorities aim to cut total visitor numbers from 2.5m to 1.5m per year. Although exact limitations on visiting have not yet been established, moving this picturesque location up on your bucket list may be a good idea.

Machu Picchu

The innate sense of adventure captured by the steep mountain trails, ancient Incan ruins and striking views of the Andes Mountains has lured tourists to this famous site for more than 100 years, but the pristine nature of Machu Picchu is feeling the impact of booming tourism. According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2017, over 5,000 tourists walked the paths of Machu Picchu daily during its busiest months. While the Peruvian government has capped daily tourist numbers to 5,940, the number is still over double the number recommended by the United Nations Cultural Organization (UNESCO). So, if you’d like to visit this treasure before more regulations are placed on visitors, you may want to do so soon.

Venice, Italy

Home to winding canals, authentic Italian cuisine and a strong sense of romance, Venice is the perfect getaway for lovers and adventurers. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking for travel enthusiasts who have this charming location on their bucket list. According to a study conducted from 2000-2010 measuring rising sea levels, researchers found that the city was subsiding on average about 0.04 to 0.08 inches per year. While this may seem like a minimal amount, the sinking combined with rising sea levels is already causing problems for the city’s residents and visitors. Exceptionally high tides cause major flooding an average of four times per year, but minor flooding is becoming increasingly more common. So, unless you plan to swim through the famous plazas, visiting Venice soon is a must.

Great Barrier Reef

Australia is home to the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef. With turquoise water and over 1500 different species of fish and marine life, the massive reef is every scuba diver and snorkeler’s dream. Sadly, over the last 27 years, over 50 percent of the reef has been destroyed by coral bleaching. Unless dramatic efforts are taken to decrease carbon emissions, the reef will be irreversibly damaged by 2030.If you want to experience it, visiting soon may be your best option.

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