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About 600,000 tourists visits New Caledonia each year, generating one of its main income streams. But from now the reefs access will be harder for then.
The French Pacific territory of New Caledonia is another territory concerned about excessive tourism that applies regulations to protect the underwater ecosystem and create a sanctuary for hump-back whales and other marine life.
The New Caledonian government issued regulations that ban fishing and limit tourist boats in important coral areas within its huge marine area, known as the Natural Park of the Coral Sea.
The archipelago authorities announced similar measures to those taken in visitor hot spots such as Boracay in the Philippines and Maya Bay in Thailand, which aim to balance tourism and the protection of ecosystems threatened by warming seas and economic activity, experts said.
New Caledonia is officially a special collectivity of France in the southwest Pacific Ocean, 1,210 km (750 mi) east of Australia and 20,000 km (12,000 mi) from Metropolitan France.
The archipelago includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands in the Coral Sea, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few remote islets.
The new rules, covering an area that includes about one-third of the world’s undisturbed coral reefs, will be enforced with the help of French naval surveillance from sea, air and space.
Like many Pacific islands, New Caledonia, with a population of just 260,000, controls vast swathes of resource-rich ocean. The ban will cover coral reefs that make up about 2 percent of the territory’s 1.3 million sq km (501,933 square miles) Natural Park, which is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
The New Caledonia territory is a real haven for hump-back whales, sea birds and turtles and contain an estimated 1,700 species of fish and 473 different types of coral, according to non-profit organization Pew Charitable Trusts.
However eco-tours can still apply for permits to access the restricted areas.
Australia is another country that has decided to protect some of its natural areas from excessive international tourism. Is now pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into protecting the Great Barrier Reef, which is facing various threats including poor water quality due to agricultural runoff, climate change, illegal fishing and coastal development.
According to international statistics from 1995 to 2016 the number of international travelers has gone from 525 million to over 1,200 million thanks to low-cost airlines, and to tourists from growing markets such as China, India or the Gulf countries.
2017 has been marked by a record increase of 7% in the number of tourists in the entire world, and by unprecedented movements of rejection of excessive tourism. Specialized forecasts affirm that in 2030, there will be 1,800 million tourists in the world.