Mining. Wind farms. National park development. Bitumen in the Outback. The list of things altering the Big Lap experience is growing. Yet, rather than putting grey nomads off hitting the road, it seems that even changes seen as ‘negative’ are having the opposite effect.
Australian experts have identified the rise of a phenomenon known as ‘Last Chance Tourism’, whereby people choose to visit a destination expressly because it is in danger, and because they want to see it before it’s too late.
Research conducted by two University of Queensland academics, Annah Piggott-McKellar and Karen McNamara, has shown the Great Barrier Reef is a classic example. A survey of hundreds of reef tourists revealed that 69% chose to visit because they wanted to do so ‘before it was gone’. While coral bleaching and the reef’s general ailing health may have given tourists a new reason to visit, it doesn’t exactly promise a long-term future.
“There’s a vicious cycle at play here: tourists travel to see a destination before it disappears but, in so doing they contribute to its demise, either directly through on-site pressures or through greenhouse gas emissions,” said the academics. “These added pressures
increase the vulnerability of the destination and in turn push up the demand for Last Chance Tourism still further.”
While the Great Barrier Reef is the classic case of an iconic destination being under imminent threat, there are numerous less publicised examples affecting the grey nomad world. And it’s not always changes to the natural landscape itself.
Many grey nomads rushed to camp at James Price Point north of Broome a couple of years ago when it looked like a giant gas hub was going to be built there; other travellers have headed up to Cape York before more bitumen ‘spoils the adventure’; and some want to visit remote national parks before improved amenities make it ‘too civilised’ and bring in the crowds.
While she has not studied grey nomad behaviour specifically, Annah Piggott-McKellar says some general conclusions can be drawn.
“The concept that something people care a lot about being threatened and its state changed to a less desirable state by something – whether it be coral bleaching, shower blocks, or bitumen roads – leads people to want to experience it before it does change is legitimate,” she told the Grey Nomads. “However whether it is the last chance to see something, period, can be an exaggeration in some instances … it would be more appropriate to say that people are wanting to see something ‘in its current form’.”
She says Last Chance Tourism may be a factor for grey nomads when they perceive the expected change to be a significant one.
“The wilderness areas will still be there, but the value they hold to travellers might have changed due to increased infrastructure,” said Ms PiggottMcKellar. “So, while it’s not a ‘see it before it is gone’, it could be a ‘see it before it changes’ scenario.”
This post is reprinted from The Grey Nomads. Check out more stories here.
How did we get started on our family road trip and start travelling Australia? You might relate to some of the things we went through in getting started, especially if you are in two minds about your own family road trip; so read on – hopefully it will inspire you to get started with your own planning.
Camping? How did I get to be a camping person? I thought I was a hotel girl. I was a hotel girl! I was a five star hotel girl. Camping? I’d never used the word ‘ablutions’ before let alone used them. So when my husband mentioned, several years ago, that we were going camping for our first holiday in over 5 years, I was a tad perplexed. I think my first comment was “Who? Us?” All I needed to do apparently was.. try it. That’s what we always told the children wasn’t it? Try things. He had booked nine nights, but said, if after three I wanted to go home. Then we’d go. How could I say no? (The actual family road trip was not even hinted at at this point!)
We borrowed our friend’s tent – yes tent, no van at this stage – and all the equipment that we’d need. Oh and the coffee machine, and the air conditioner and the TV. My husband drew the line at the dish washer, something to do with plumbing – boy stuff.
I lasted nine nights and we booked in another two. I loved it. Most days were at the beach, I read three books, wine o’clock was found. And surprisingly we could survive without the dishwasher. (Thanks mostly to the deal that if he wouldn’t let me bring it, then he would become it!). I truly embraced it and really couldn’t wait to do it again.
“Let’s Travel Around Australia!” Hubby then suggested. “Let’s take the children out of school, buy a caravan, and do the family road trip to every state in Australia.”
Well, I had enjoyed the camping and I’d like to have a better look around this country – a family road trip sounded like a great idea…..but what about the children’s education? They need to continue to learn! Home School them? Me? Are you kidding me? No, not kidding. Right….Right.
Next question “How long for?” – We had somehow found ourselves in a position, where hubby was working all the time and not able to spend as much time as he would like with the children and really felt like he was missing out. A friend had just be diagnosed with a terminal illness and something just clicked. We thought that we needed to do this trip now. What were we waiting for?
This article is reprinted from “Travelling Australia With Kids” – Click here to find out more.