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Extreme tourism in Antarctica

Posted on February 23, 2016 – 08:58 am

The US has its own permit

Problems

The environmental impact of an individual tourist is much greater than that of a
researcher. Landing sites are chosen for a special feature, so they quickly
become honeypots. More than 99% of Antarctica is covered with ice, so little is
left for tourist activity. Few visitors go on the ice.

Tourists only spend a short time ashore, but the impacts do not always reflect this. They want to visit the most picturesque and wildlife-rich areas. The impact is uneven but in places too great. Animals, especially penguins and seals, are disturbed by
more than a few people. Not used to humans, they do not like to be touched. If
they leave as a result, they may abandon eggs and young.
There have been accidents when ships have struck uncharted rocks or ice floes.
The great majority of shipping in Antarctic waters is tourist-based. Oil spills
are becoming an increasing hazard for wildlife. Tourist ships must discharge all
waste materials well away from the shore of Antarctica.

Solutions

All tour operators are members of IAATO, which directs tourism to be safe and
environmentally friendly. Around 100 companies are involved. In line with the
Antarctic Treaty, tourism is an acceptable activity in Antarctica - it is the
scale that has to be controlled. Visitors are not allowed to visit Sites of
Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in order to conserve precious wildlife and
landscapes. Bird Island on South Georgia is one example.

Although tourist numbers have increased rapidly in Antarctica, protection remains a
priority. A permit must be gained for any activities on the continent. No ship
carrying over 500 passengers can land in Antarctica. Never the less, there is
concern that larger ships will eventually be allowed to land and that the volume

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FAQ

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What is tourism like in Antarctica.

Antarctica is not a tourist destination in the traditional sense. It has no tourist facilities, hotels or airports. A few airlines fly over Antarctica to show you the sights, then fly back to where they came from without landing. At least one company runs mountain climbing expeditions, but they make it clear that you need to be experienced and capable and fit enough to endure the rigours or polar mountaineering. Unless you are engaged in some sort of research with a large government grant, you really have no business being there.

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What is the impact of tourism on Antarctica?

Humans leave trash
Humans are brought into contact with animals which stresses the animals
Humans feed animals and the animals become dependent on human supplied food
The infrastructure impacts the environment
Foreign species can be imported or exported by the tourists
Humans get themselves in danger (lost, hurt or eaten) which requires massive intervention
There have been oil and fuel spillages that have made pollution
Humans start to think of animals as "just exhibits" for their pleasure
Moss beds that take years to grow are trampled and wrecked

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