Australia’s tourism industry under climate change threat


Australia could be facing a decline in tourism if climate change alters its natural beauty. Source:

AUSTRALIA could risk losing out on tourism as climate change harms the nation’s renowned natural attractions, according to a report.

The report was conducted by advocacy group Climate Council.

According to the report, although Australia has seen an eight-percent tourism growth since the end of the last financial year, the nation isn’t implementing enough preventative measures to prepare for the destruction climate change is going to cause to natural sites such as the Great Barrier Reef.

Tourism Australia lists the five biggest drawcards for visitors as beaches, wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef, unspoiled natural wilderness and national parks including rainforests. All these tourism hotspots are likely to be damaged by the effects of climate change.

The Tourism 2020 plan set out by Australia’s tourism board doesn’t refer to the urgent need to cut greenhouse gases, but instead lays out strategies to “build a resilience and competitiveness to the tourism industry and grow its economic contribution”.

Tensions between tourism industry professionals and climate change scientists have reached a breaking point. Last month, the head of Queensland’s Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, Col McKenzie, called climate scientist Terry Hughes “A d**k”. He then proceeded to urge the federal government to cut any funding that is intended to go towards climate research, reported The Guardian.

It seems that climate change is the bone of contention between doing what is right for the environment and ensuring Australia’s tourism industry continues to grow.

However, Australian ecologist and report co-author Professor Lesley Hughes insists it should not be controversial to discuss the threat climate change poses to the industry, as reported in The Guardian.

Often, tourists are aware of the accelerated bleaching of Australia’s coral reefs. But beyond this, beaches are also facing erosion due to rising sea levels and in January this year, Australia’s temperatures broke records and melted roads – all as a result of climate change.

“Most government and industry plans on tourism are focused on growth but they don’t also look at the other side of the coin, which is the risks,” Hughes added.

The tourism sector in Australia is the second largest industry and employs around five percent of the country’s total workforce.

Deloitte Access Economics released a report last year stating the Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be worth AUS$56 billion as an asset, but this figure could soon be in decline as bleaching destroys one of Mother Nature’s most prized creations.

“Without credible climate policy that cuts Australia’s rising carbon pollution levels, the impacts of climate change will only intensify and accelerate across the country over the coming decades,” Climate Council chief executive Martin Rice said in a report by AFP (via

Travel and tourism contributes AUD40.6 billion to the economy. The government approximates that for every dollar spent within the tourism industry, 90 cents will find its way into another part of the economy.

Australia receives an average of 700,000 visitors per month, with the majority coming from New Zealand and China, according to Tourism Australia.

Australia expects these figures to grow throughout 2018 and are aiding this development through a series of marketing campaigns, including the Crocodile Dundee tourism advert shown at the halftime of the 2018 Super Bowl which showcases Australia’s natural beauty.

Tourism in Australia is now the second biggest industry after iron-ore exportation and employs almost 10 times the amount of people the mining industries do.

However, talks surrounding sustainable fossil fuels are far more heightened than discussing how climate change is going to have irreversible effects on Australia’s natural beauty and the tourism industry.

Hughes describes the lack of awareness of one industry-altering problem and the concerned attitudes for another as a “cognitive dissonance at its most extreme”.

The report notes some hotels, airlines, and zoos are making conscious efforts to reduce its carbon footprint but emphasizes the lack of a thorough plan to ensure Australia’s tourism industry doesn’t die a preventable death.