Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in Australia, providing more than half a million jobs and accounting for 5% of the workforce. Iconic natural destinations such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park, Uluru, and our world-famous beaches such as the Gold Coast are the backbone of this industry. But current and future climate change impacts pose great risks for these icons, and for the communities they support.
This report provides a summary of the value of the tourism industry to the Australian economy and to communities, and the risks posed to this asset by climate change. We also describe how the industry can play an important part in the vital transition to a low carbon economy.
Key findings include:
- Australia’s top five natural tourist attractions (beaches, wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef, wilderness and national parks) are all at risk of climate change.
- Beaches are Australia’s #1 tourist destination and are threatened by rising sea levels.
- Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle and Adelaide are projected to have a least a 100 fold increase in the frequency of coastal flooding events (with a 0.5m sea level rise).
- The Red Centre could experience more than 100 days above 35ºC annually, by 2030. By 2090, there could be more than 160 days per year over 35ºC.
- The Top End could see an increase in hot days (temperatures above 35ºC) from 11 (1981-2010 average) to 43 by 2030, and up to 265 by 2090.
- Ski tourism: 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.
- Tourism is Australia’s second most valuable export earner, employing a workforce of more than 580,000 people, over 15 times more people than coal mining in Australia.