2017 Travel Trends in Depth — Vanishing Destinations: Places to See Before They Die

As quoted from an academic publication on the subject, Last Chance Tourism for Antarctica–Cruising for Change, “This [vanishing destinations] travel trend has been reported as: ‘disappearing tourism,’ ‘doom tourism,’ and most commonly ‘last chance tourism’ where tourists explicitly seek vanishing landscapes or seascapes, and/or disappearing natural and/or social heritage.”

Many travelers’ fear of missing out drives them to these destinations with an extra shot of urgency. These landmarks aren’t just fun tourist attractions; we know many of them as the most legendary travel sites in the world. (I have to admit, before studying this topic, I blindly assumed these places would stay around for centuries.) Will we have to start rewriting history books with new destinations when these disappear?

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  • Venice, Italy — The water is slowly rising in the “Floating City,” and could completely destroy the lovely tourism center, often a destination for honeymoons and bucket list trips, in less than 70 years. The city started sinking years ago, and with each flood, the city takes a huge hit: It has sunk nearly one foot in the last 100 years, posing a huge threat to tourism and museums.


  • Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve — Here’s one a bit closer to home for most of us reading. Due to the rapid temperature rise, the park went on red alert: The vast majority of these glaciers will disappear in less than twenty years. Counterintuitive as it may seem, Alaska’s temperature accelerates at double the rate of the rest of the United States.


  • Antarctica — According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 40% of the Arctic icecap could melt by 2050. If you’ve always felt like visiting Antarctica and didn’t know why, now might be the best time to scratch that itch. Just make sure you don’t forget your thermal underwear.


  • Taj Mahal — Erosion and air pollution place this landmark onto the endangered destination list. Both the once-pristine, white stone building and nearby river are starting to look dingy and unfit for tourists. Not to mention, the wooden foundation holding the 364-year-old structure is slowly rotting, making the terrain unsafe for travelers.


  • The Maldives — We mentioned the island nation a couple times in a past blog about underwater travel, and now that we’ve done more research, we hate the irony here: 80% of the smallest Asian nation is almost underwater — just a few mere feet above sea level. Years ago, the Maldivian government invested in land in other countries, facing the very real possibility that the residents will need displacement.


  • The Great Barrier Reef — The ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies estimates that at least 93% of the reef was suffered various degrees of coral bleaching, the phenomenon that occurs when warmer water, likely due to global warming, depletes the algae that add color to the reef. As a result, the stripped reef becomes a bright white color, looking unremarkable compared to past pictures of the beautiful structure. The reef formation stands as the only organism large enough to be seen from space. 


  • Timbuktu — (Yes, it’s a real place!) Though I seriously doubt anyone but the extreme adventurer would venture into this ancient city, I couldn’t resist the mention. Revered for its remote location at the edge of the Sahara Desert, to travelers, it once served as a fertile gold trading ground as well as an oasis from days of travel through the arid desert. It’s nearly impossible to reach even now, and will soon be covered in sand due to a process called desertification, exacerbated by widespread drought and overpopulation in an unsustainable climate.

    Just how exotic is Timbuktu? You can find the city in Mali listed in the Oxford English Dictionary as an idiom for “the most distant place imaginable,” and we have all heard the phrase, “all the way to Timbuktu,” right? Pretty soon the Sub-Saharan paradise will be lost to all but our language, history, and imagination.



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