Personal Finance

3 'last chance' destinations drawing travelers worried about climate change

Key Points
  • More people may be heading to certain places prone to climate change, according to a new report from travel insurance site Squaremouth.
  • The Maldives, an island chain southwest of India, topped the list with a 68 percent increase in travel interest from 2016 to 2017.
Andrew Watson | Getty Images

Some bucket-list trips may be more about anticipating the destination's demise than yours.

Certain countries susceptible to climate change have seen a spike in travel interest over the past year, according to a new report from travel insurance comparison web site Squaremouth. People may be advancing their plans to see these places in all their current glory, they note.

The report is based on data Squaremouth collects when people input their destination and trip costs into the site to compare policies.

For example, interest in the Maldives — an island chain southwest of India that is fighting rising sea levels — jumped 68 percent from 2016 to 2017. In comparison, Squaremouth's 20 most-traveled destinations saw an average increase of 15 percent in the same time period.

Unfortunately, travel insurance doesn't cover climate change, said Carolyn Leckie, director of marketing for Squaremouth.

But other factors, such as the cost of the trip or the remoteness of the destination, could make it worth assessing travel insurance needs for these possible "last chance" trips.


Haveseen | Getty Images

Travel interest boost: 68 percent

The Maldives has seen the biggest spike in travel, as the island nation uses mass tourism to raise the funds necessary to adapt to climate change. That includes relocating thousands of people and building the necessary infrastructure to accommodate them.

The paradise atolls, famous for their turquoise waters and idyllic beaches, may be under water by 2100, according to the United Nations. That's a fate the Maldives is trying to avoid.

Last year, tourists flocking to the Maldives insured an average of $3,593 in nonrefundable costs, an 11 percent increase from the year before, according to Squaremouth. Those costs could include airfare, hotel, and recreational activities.

Round-trip plane tickets from New York City to the Maldives cost around $1,000 on the low end, while hotels can range from under $50 to around $2,000 per night, depending on the level of amenities.


Bleaching damage on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
AFP | Getty Images

Travel interest boost: 25 percent

Tourists may be flocking down under to view the famously colorful Great Barrier Reef before it bleaches further due to warming sea temperatures. Last year marked the first year mass bleaching is known to have happened to the 1,400-mile-long habitat two years in a row.

Travelers spent significantly more money when visiting Australia last year, Squaremouth found. In 2017, they insured an average of $3,412 in nonrefundable costs, a 28 percent increase from the year before.

The cheapest round-trip flights to Sydney, Australia from New York City go for about $1,200, while hotels can range from just under $100 to several hundred per night.


Adelie penguins stand atop a block of melting ice on a rocky shoreline at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, in East Antarctica.
Pauline Askin | Reuters

Travel interest boost: 17 percent

Increased tourism has helped fund scientific expeditions to Antarctica, where researchers study the effects of climate change. Warming temperatures have been chipping away at the Antarctic ice and contributing to sea level rise.

In July, a 1 trillion ton iceberg the size of Delaware broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in western Antarctica. In March 2017, sea ice around the North and South Poles reached record lows for that time of year.

Traveling to Antarctica is expensive. Cruises — a popular way to see the continent — can run $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the cruise line and duration of the trip.

Last year, tourists to Antarctica insured an average of $9,279 in nonrefundable costs, a 3 percent decline from the year before, according to Squaremouth.