UK Destinations Feature in Endangered List

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Britain’s Three Peaks Challenge and London’s Borough Market feature in Wanderlust magazine’s annual Endangered Destinations List which has just been announced. The list highlights worldwide destinations in need of greater care, and explains steps, where possible, where Brits can help.

Britain’s Three Peaks Challenge and London’s Borough Market feature in Wanderlust magazine’s annual Endangered Destinations List which has just been announced. The list highlights worldwide destinations in need of greater care, and explains steps, where possible, where Brits can help.

The Three Peaks Challenge – which requires walkers to summit the three highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland within 24 hours, often for charity, is listed over concerns that its popularity is impacting the hills and surrounding villages.

And Borough Market, the London Bridge foodie mecca frequented by Jamie Oliver, risks losing its heritage to over-tourism and rail development .

The other destinations on the 2011 ‘critical list’ are Beijing’s historic Hutongs, the Swahili island of Lamu in Kenya, the Çoruh River in Turkey, the island of Madagascar, Riga in Latvia and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Old travel favourite New York also gets a nod on the list after announcing plans to phase out its iconic yellow cabs.

For the full list go to http://www.wanderlust.co.uk/endangered-destinations.

Lyn Hughes, editor-in-chief at Wanderlust comments: “Rapid development, booming visitor numbers and political strife are just some of the issues highlighted in our Endangered Destinations List. People may be surprised that the Three Peaks Challenge and Borough Market feature, but both risk losing what makes them special if current trends continue. We want to bring attention to the issues and urge British holidaymakers to travel with care in 2011.

“Tourism can be a double edged sword for destinations. At the same time as supporting local communities, if things aren’t managed properly the negatives can soon outweigh the positives creating major environmental and cultural issues. Wadi Rum in Jordan is a case in point - it appears on our list for a second year in a row as uncontrolled tourism is fast threatening to spoil this unique destination.” added Hughes.

ENDANGERED DESTINATIONS LIST 2011

Three Peaks Challenge
Problem – The challenge to ascend the three highest peaks in England, Wales and Scotland within 24 hours, often for charity, has become hugely popular. But in their rush to reach the summits of Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, some participants leave litter, drive dangerously, disturb local residents’ sleep and contribute little to local communities. Hills and verges have become scarred by hikers, streams are polluted and repairs to the pathways are costing the authorities thousands.
Action – Suggestions include limits of 1,000 hikers at a time ascending the summits, and getting rid of the time limit of many challenges. Organisers are focusing on educating entrants, and advice to anyone taking part is to ensure you are fully prepared for the challenge and treat the mountain surroundings with respect.

Borough Market
Problem – Visitors have swelled to 4.5 million a year and many tourists come purely to take pictures rather than spend money. In addition, major development work as part of the Thameslink Project is destroying the historic face of the market.
Action - Borough Market is attempting to attract local foodies back by encouraging more organic producers, farmers’ market traders and food specialists to sell there. The management team has promised to work with traders to protect the historic nature of the market.

Wadi Rum, Jordan
Problem – Declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in June 2011, Jordan’s Wadi Rum valley has become an increasingly popular tourist spot but limited infrastructure has led to a lack of environmental protection.
Action - Better management of the area, including improved government support of small-scale low-impact tourism, and allowing local Bedouin tribes to have more say in how Wadi Rum is developed and managed is vital.

Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo
Why - Africa’s oldest national park – home to more than one-fifth of the world’s 700 critically endangered mountain gorillas – is at risk from armed militia, local politicians and proposed oil drilling.
Action – Driving a resurgence in tourism is a primary goal as it will benefit all the communities around the park. Meanwhile UNESCO has been involved in negotiations with the Congolese government to stop oil drilling in the national park.

Riga, Latvia
Why – Hordes of rowdy British stags and hens descend on the World Heritage Site of Riga’s city centre every weekend and are destroying the atmosphere of the historic centre.
Action - Education may be the answer. In 2007, Latvian girls were urged to steer clear of one-night stands with tourists as part of a campaign to prevent Riga from turning into the Bangkok of the Baltic. A similar effort needs to be made in the UK to promote a level of respect for the city.

Çoruh River, Turkey
Why – The river is a white-water kayaking destination but water-sports-lovers can no longer navigate the entire river without portaging around two hydroelectric dams, with 11 more due to be constructed. The wildlife rich area surrounding the river would be dramatically changed by the plan.
Action - There are alternatives to damming up Turkey’s wild river. A previous campaign was successful in convincing the government to shelve plans for at least one major dam along the river at Yusufeli, so there’s still hope that construction can we stopped with lobbying.

Beijing Hutongs, China
Why – Beijing’s Hutongs, the old alleys of courtyard houses that have been part of the city’s fabric since 1279, are disappearing at an alarming rate due to unchecked development.
Action -The Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Centre is an NGO campaigning to protect Chinese culture. It has already been successful in preventing the Galou area of old Beijing being demolished and redeveloped so there is hope it will have some sway with the government.

Lamu, Kenya
Problem: Ancient dhows traversing the sleepy straits between Lamu and the Kenyan mainland could soon be jostling with cargo ships and oil tankers if the planned £16 million development turning Lamu into Kenya's second biggest deepwater harbour goes ahead.
Action: A huge feasibility study is being conducted by the Kenyan government, and there is hope that the project may be abandoned in favour of redeveloping the port at Mombasa. The Tanzanian government's recent U-turn on building a sealed road through the Serengeti shows that a concerted effort from environmental groups and concerned individuals can have positive results.

Madagascar
Why - The African island’s unique fauna is under unprecedented threat from civil unrest, corruption and the overexploitation of resources. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has declared the Malagasy ecosystem one of the most threatened in the world.
Action - Tourism plays a large part, bringing jobs and park fees, which help neighbouring communities – so plan a visit now! Britain’s Blue Ventures and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust have also been working successfully to involve local people in conservation, pressing home the message that a live lemur in a tree is more valuable than a dead one in a cooking pot.

New York, USA
Why – America’s most iconic city is shedding its own icons at an alarming rate: its world-famous yellow cabs are being replaced by minivans, and the Statue of Liberty is now a less popular photo opportunity for visitors than the Apple Store on 5th Avenue.
Action – Boycott these new-fangled minivan taxis and walk instead! The High Line aerial walkway up Manhattan’s West Side has just been extended.

This is the third year of the Threatened Wonders List. In 2010 Stonehenge in the UK, Wadi Rum in Jordan, Tulum in Mexico, Yangshuo in China, Timbuktu in Mali, Bay of Fires in Tasmania, Macchu Picchu in Peru, Jaisalmer in India, Zimbabwe, North-East Thailand and Madagascar made the list.

Lyn Hughes, editor-in-chief, and Dan Linstead, editor, of Wanderlust are both available for print or broadcast interviews on this subject.

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Fiona Reece
Wanderlust Magazine
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