Travelers with bucket lists tend to see the challenge as limited by their schedule, budget and life span. Increasingly, though, there’s a fourth dimension: how much longer a destination or experience, as advertised, will be around for a tourist to enjoy.
Many places are disappearing or transforming before our eyes: Pacific islands succumbing to sea-level rise; the Amazon rainforest withering because of unchecked development; the Gulf of California losing the vaquita porpoise to extinction by poaching.
To be fair, not all factors altering the travel landscape are bad. The modernity that nostalgic backpackers have decried in the Himalaya, for example, also brought first-world medical care to isolated communities. But right now the tourism world is facing a suite of mostly negative transformative influences. Here we highlight five — climate change, deforestation, erosion, wildlife poaching and gentrification — and offer examples of places and experiences that may soon go the way of the traveler’s check.