The tourists who visit to see the Great Barrier Reef in Australia before it is gone are themselves contributing to its destruction, according to University of Queensland researchers. They call this the Last Chance Tourism (LCT) paradox, which they explain in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism.

“LCT is a niche tourism market focused on witnessing and experiencing a place before it disappears. This tourism market can also be referred to as climate change, disappearing or vanishing, doom, dying, endangered or ‘see it before it’s gone’ tourism,” state the researchers Annah Piggott-McKellar and Karen McNamara from the University of Queensland.

The tourists flocking on the area put population pressure and increase carbon emission that can lead further destruction to the Great Barrier Reef. The greater the danger of a tourist spot disappearing, the higher its destination status becomes, leading to more demand for visits, consequently causing more deterioration to the area.

The research team asked 230 visitors at the Great Barrier Reef for the reasons for their visits. Seventy percent of them told the researchers that they were at the site because they are strongly motivated to see it before it is too late.

LCT individuals are more likely to be older, more environmentally conscious females. These tourists are visiting the region for the first time and have travelled great distances to come to the site.

These tourists are also likely to be more concerned about the current status of the Barrier Reef. Among their concerns are coral bleaching and climate change.

On the other hand, LCT individuals have moderate to low concern about the impact of tourism or other destructive factors on the Great Barrier Reef. These people do not think that their travel to the world heritage site contributes to its destruction.

The findings could improve tourists’ awareness about the real factors that damage the reef. These could also pave the way to further research about the effects of travelling to the Barrier Reef.