Australia’s tourism industry will be decimated by climate change, a Climate Council report released on Thursday has found.
The “Icons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism” report warned that Australia’s top five natural tourist attractions would be hit hard by climate change.
It said that Australia’s iconic beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, national parks, wilderness areas and wildlife would be affected by extreme heatwaves, rising sea levels, coastal flooding, coral bleaching and rising temperatures.
“Tourists travel across the globe to see Australia’s remarkable natural wonders. But these icons are in the climate firing line as extreme weather events worsen and sea levels continue to rise,” Lesley Hughes, member of the Climate Council and ecologist, said in a media release on Thursday.
“Some of our country’s most popular natural destinations, including our beaches could become ‘no-go zones’ during peak holiday periods and seasons, with the potential for extreme temperatures to reach up to 50 degrees Celsius in Sydney and Melbourne.”
She said that tourism was Australia’s second most valuable export earner, employing 15 times as many people as the coal industry.
“Climate change is placing one of Australia’s most valuable and fastest growing sectors under threat. In 2016 alone, more than 8 million international visitors arrived on our shores to see our natural icons, bringing in more than 40 billion Australian dollars (31.2 billion U.S.),” Hughes said.
The report predicted that coastal flooding events would increase at least 100-fold in the coastal cities Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Cairns, Darwin, Adelaide and Fremantle with a 0.5 meter sea level rise.
It also said that the number of days above 35 degrees Celsius in the Northern Territory would rise from the 1981-2010 average of 11 every year to 43 by 2030.