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Extreme weather events expected to make Queensland holidays less attractive for tourists

Vanessa Marsh, February 9, 2018 2:09PM The Courier-Mail

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The Climate Council has warned of a threat to Australia’s tourism industry from climate change, and says Queensland is at highest risk. Picture: Luke Marsden media_cameraThe Climate Council has warned of a threat to Australia’s tourism industry from climate change, and says Queensland is at highest risk. Picture: Luke Marsden

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Fun in the sun on holidays in Queensland could be under threat with a report showing changing weather patterns are expected to make the popular spot less enjoyable for tourists.

Extreme weather events such as heatwaves, storms and bushfires are predicted to affect the future viability* of the state’s booming tourism industry.

The United Nations has identified Australia as one of five tourism hot spots vulnerable* to climate change. The nation’s top attractions, including beaches, wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef and national parks, could be at risk from climate change.

The Climate Council yesterday revealed the extent of the threat to Australia’s tourism industry from climate change, warning northern states such as Queensland are at highest risk of becoming “inhospitable”* during peak tourism times.

The United Nations found Australian tourism was particularly vulnerable due to hotter summers, warmer winters, water scarcity*, loss of marine biodiversity*, sea level rise, an increase in disease outbreaks and an increase in extreme weather events.

“Analysis indicated that … much of Queensland, including key access points to the Great Barrier Reef such as Cairns and Townsville, could become inhospitable during substantial* parts of the year, especially in the summer months, the peak season for international visitors,” the report said.

“Brisbane and the Gold Coast are also projected to suffer substantial declines in climate attractiveness during the high season.”

Beautiful colourful coral like this is under threat from bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef media_cameraBeautiful colourful coral like this is under threat from bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Picture: Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef

Lead author Professor Lesley Hughes said the effects were already being felt in Queensland as evidenced by coral bleaching, beach erosion, rising temperatures and the southern movement of Irukandji jellyfish.

The report said more than 60 per cent of Queensland’s 12,276km of open coastline was at risk of harm from rising sea levels.

Extreme weather events such as heatwaves, storms and bushfires are predicted to affect Queensland’s booming tourism industry. Picture: Nigel Hallett media_cameraExtreme weather events such as heatwaves, storms and bushfires are predicted to affect Queensland’s booming tourism industry. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Surveys revealed up to 23 per cent of travellers would respond to beach damage by choosing a different holiday destination, a move that could strip $56 million a year from the Sunshine Coast.

“Both from a jobs and dollars perspective, tourism is a hugely important industry that we can’t afford to risk,” Prof Hughes said.

“Climate change is not a future problem, it’s a now problem, and it’s just going to accelerate* over the next few decades if something isn’t done,” Prof Hughes said.

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones said the Queensland Government was addressing climate change with $20 billion of projects under construction, planned and proposed and $247 million invested in improving Reef water quality.

GLOSSARY

  • viability: ability to survive or live successfully
  • vulnerable: exposed to the possibility of being harmed
  • inhospitable: hard or difficult to live in
  • scarcity: in short supply
  • biodiversity: variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat
  • substantial: of considerable size
  •  to move more quickly

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CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. The problems
List all of the problems that climate change will cause for tourism in Australia. Include as many facts from the story as you can.

Time: Allow about 25 minutes.
Curriculum Links: English, The Humanities: Geography.

Extension: You have read in the story that the Queensland Government is spending billions of dollars to help solve problems caused by climate change.

Think about things that you, your family and community can do to help. Find out more if you need to. Use your ideas and the information you have found to create a Storyboard for a TV or online advertisement that will help people learn about things they can do to help solve problems caused by climate change.

Time: Allow about 60 minutes.
Curriculum Links: Media Arts, Geography.

2. What do you think about this?
Write a Letter to the Editor of Kids News. Your letter should give your opinion about the issue of climate change. Use the information in the story to help give you examples and ideas.

Time: Allow about 25 minutes.
Curriculum Links: English.

Extension: What do you know about biodiversity? Find out why this is so important. Use your information to write an information report on ‘Why We Should Protect Biodiversity’. Include pictures or diagrams.

Time: allow about 45 minutes.
Curriculum Links: Science

IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT TODAY’S STORY

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