"Last-Chance Tourism" - Observing or Conserving?
Whether it's starving polar bears on Facebook, bleached coral reefs on the BBC or
mountains of poached ivory in the newspaper it's impossible not to be
aware that some of our planets most striking attractions are not likely to be around in the future. This knowledge is driving "Last-Chance Tourism", a travel trend which has been around for a few years and will continue to grow in 2018.
Personally, I find the idea of "Last-Chance Tourism" to be both maddening and depressing because it suggests that there is nothing that can be done other than turn up, take a few shots for the photo album and head home! The reality is that with a more responsible mindset and optimistic view "Last-Chance Tourism" can be flipped on its head and turned into "Conservation Tourism".
All too often, travellers only realise the impact their own visit has once they are in-country, by which time it is too late to do anything about it if it's negative or could simply be more beneficial. Of course, some don't care, or don't believe it's their problem to solve, but surely travellers should be given the facts to decide at the point of origin, not the destination?
It is the responsibility of the travel industry, particularly agents, to ensure that our clients have the information they need to understand how their visit will affect the subject of their visit, both directly and indirectly. For instance, does their mere
presence have an impact, as is the case with Machu Picchu in Peru? In these cases, we can suggest alternative routes, itineraries or modes of transport which help to minimise this impact. Does the operator work to preserve the attraction? In many cases operators run, or contribute to, projects which are designed to prevent or reverse the degradation of the attraction the visitor is there to see and money from every visit contributes to it. Armed with this information travellers can make informed choices aligned with their own ethical standards.
Someone recently likened Last-Chance Tourism to "selling tickets to see a terminal patient at a nursing home". This is probably a little over the top but does have an element of truth to it if the visit doesn't at least provide an opportunity to help arrest the decline.