Climate Council Report Cover
Icons at Risk: Climate Change Threatening Australian Tourism (PDF)
Climate change poses a significant threat to many of Australia’s iconic natural areas that underpin our tourism industry.
›The United Nations has identified the Australia/New Zealand region as one of five Climate Change Vulnerable Hotspots for the global tourism industry.
›The top five attractions for international visitors – Australian beaches, wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef, wilderness areas and national parks – are all at risk from climate change.
›The timing, frequency and severity of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms and bushfires, could affect where and when tourists choose to travel, and the viability of tourism operations.
›Beaches: Australia’s number one tourist destination – the beaches – are threatened by rising sea levels.-17-23% of surveyed tourists would respond to beach damage scenarios by switching destinations, with an estimated $56 million loss per year for Sunshine Coast in QLD and $20 million per year for the Surf Coast in Victoria. -Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle and Adelaide are all projected to have at least a one hundred-fold increase in the frequency of coastal flooding events with a 0.5m sea level rise.
›Ski tourism has been visibly affected by climate change, both globally and in Australia. Declines of maximum snow depth and decreasing season length at Australian ski resorts have been reported for over 25 years, increasing the need for artificial snow-making.
Australia’s most important tourist destinations are already feeling the effects of climate change and these impacts will accelerate over coming decades.
›The Great Barrier Reef:Australia’s most valuable tourist icon – contributing $6 billion to the Australian economy – is also the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Record hot ocean temperatures in 2016-17 resulted in the most catastrophic bleaching of the reef system on record.
›Red Centre: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and other tourist destinations in inland Australia face increasing extreme heat and water scarcity. In 2030 the Red Centre could experience more than 100 days above 35°C every year (19 days more than the current average). By 2090, there could be more than 160 days per year over 35°C.
›The Top End: Kakadu National Park is threatened by extreme heat and rising sea levels as saltwater progressively invades freshwater wetlands. Darwin could see an increase in hot days (temperatures above 35°C) from 11 (1981-2010 average) to 43 by 2030, and up to 265 by 2090.