London, Dec 25 (UNI) They are charging the melting glaciers of Alaska, Patagonia, the Arctic and Antarctic, the sinking islands of the Pacific and the fading glories of the Great Barrier Reef to marvel nature's bounty before it extincts.
They are the doomsday tourists who pick holiday destinations threatened or endangered by environmental circumstances.
''The phenomenon was one of the most significant trends in travel this year. I called it the tourism of doom, and I got a lot of responses from people in the travel industry,'' TravelAge West editor Ken Shapiro said.
Dennis and Stacie Woods, the tourist couple, have climbed the 5895-metre Mount Kilimanjaro, where scientists have claimed that the peak snows could be gone within 15 years.
About 10,000 tourists climb the Tanzanian mountain every year for the similar reason.
The melting polar icecaps, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands are also attracting record numbers of visitors.
According to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, more than 37,000 tourists visited the continent last year, double the number five years ago.
Quark Expeditions, which runs Arctic and Antarctic tours, was doubling its capacity and opening up new routes, including one to the Norwegian Arctic island of Spitsbergen.
Its spokesperson Prisca Campbell said, ''There's not enough capacity to satisfy demand. We always get the question about global warming.'' Critics say the rush to ''see it before it's gone'' is hastening damage to the environment, encouraging tourists to take flights and other means of travel that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.