This "big coastal resort city" and its environs certainly display symptoms of aggressive development—including air and water pollution, traffic congestion, and "ugly sprawl." But that's only half the story. Parts of the hinterland remain unspoiled, and "a lot of resources are being put into beach management and policy research."
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Glitzy tourism for the glitzy tourist. Inland, the region has excellent ecological quality, but most international tourists never see it. They flock to casinos and beach resorts. The local community has this form of tourism well under control and makes a lot of money out of it."
"Las Vegas meets Miami. The long-established parks in the hinterland are the one saving grace. It’s the architectural and planning cesspit of Australia. Ugly, ugly, ugly, but some people don't care because it’s sunny, warm, and cheap."
"The combination of beautiful beaches and the hinterland makes the Gold Coast a beautiful place. If you avoid the main tourist strip in Surfers Paradise, you'll see that the rest of the region has preserved its natural integrity."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.