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International Travel

5 top tourist attractions that could disappear in your lifetime

5 top tourist attractions that could disappear in your lifetime

Places to visit - and protect

When places are well-known and popular – historical and modern alike – we might take it for granted that they’ll be around forever. But sadly, many of the world’s best known and culturally significant landmarks are in jeopardy. Human activity has had a devastating effect on many valued places, including massive milestones of human achievement. And many of these are so much more than just tourist attractions – they’re unique, valuable remnants of ancient times and civilizations.

1. The Great Barrier Reef

This massive, once-thriving coral reef has suffered enormously over recent years, with coral bleaching – caused by climate change – stripping the coral of its nutrients. This, in turn, harms the rich marine life that calls the reef home. And, of course, this also depletes it of the dazzling colours that once were a hallmark of the Great Barrier Reef’s underwater wonder. The reef remains the largest coral reef ecosystem in the world, but projections have warned that the damage to it could become irreversible in the next 10 years.

2. Old City of Jerusalem

One of the world’s most spiritually significant places, the Old City of Jerusalem, is in danger of disappearing, UNESCO has found. The walls of the Old City are one of its trademark features. Most famously, the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is a valuable pilgrimage site for people of the Jewish faith, one that dates back to around 20 BCE. The Wall is the only remnant of the city’s Second Temple. The city was actually listed on UNESCO’s list of endangered cultural sites in the 1980s. Widespread urbanisation has been found to pose a significant threat to the city.

3. Everglades National Park

This stunning Floridian wildlife sanctuary has sadly found itself fighting for its life in recent years. As ‘the largest designated subtropical wilderness reserve’ in North America, according to UNESCO, it’s been a beloved travel destination for American citizens for decades, but the ravages of time and human activity have not been kind to it. Its survival first came into question after it was battered by Hurricane Andrew in 1993. But it’s human influence that has posed the primary threat, as water flow to the site has decreased and the impacts of pollution have increased, resulting in harmful algal blooms. Its vast, diverse wildlife is more threatened than ever before.

4. The Taj Mahal

It’s hard to imagine this monolithic structure, located in Agra, India, being in danger. The structure itself is in some jeopardy from the elements, but the primary reason for concern is that the Indian Supreme Court could potentially close the attraction. The court has butted heads with the government, claiming that unless the government does a better job of preserving it, they’ll have to shut it down. Pollution is visibly altering the Taj’s pristine surface. It’s also experienced insect infestations. Flies of the genus Geoldichironomus, which breed in the heavily polluted Yamuna River, neighbouring the Taj, have encroached upon the structure in recent years.

5. Mount Kilimanjaro’s Peak

This revered mountain, one of the Seven Summits, proves that even giants can fall to climate change. While the mountain itself, located in Tanzania, isn’t in imminent danger, its iconic snow cap might vanish – and shockingly soon. Research found that the snow cap had lost 85 per cent of the total area of its ice fields between 1912 and 2007, and the remaining ice could be history as early as 2030.

Written by Meghan Jones. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. Find more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.