Tourism in the Antarctic
3. February 2014
No place in the world is ‘safe’ anymore for tourism. Given the accessibility of all corners of the world, isolated and inhospitable areas, such as the North and South Poles, are now increasingly visited by tourists. Those who have money to spend can take part in exclusive expeditions to Antarctica, greenland sleigh rides or cruises along the Alaskan coast. Here nature is still pure and undisturbed and also extremely vulnerable. Disruption of breeding penguins and bird colonies and pollution by non-degradable waste go hand in hand with tourism.
Antarctica is no man’s land: no one lives there and it has no government. There are penguins, whales, seals and many species of birds. Tourism to Antarctica is becoming increasingly popular: you hear more and more about it on television, in the newspaper and on the internet. The people who have been there find it magical, overwhelming and incapable of describing it. It is the ultimate dream of many holidaymakers to go to Antarctica one day. And this dream becomes possible for a growing group of people. In the high season that runs from December to March, five to six large cruise ships visit Antarctica each week. This can reach up to 28,000 visitors per season! Tourism is taking on massive forms, which also has a downside. Given that Antarctica is largely made of ice, it is very vulnerable to external influences. Since the breeding season of the animals coincides with the tourist season, the animals are disturbed. Tourists get too close to touch the animals or take pictures. They can also bring diseases that the animals are not immune to. Many tourists also means a lot of waste. Fortunately, most tour operators are affiliated with the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), which have to comply with all kinds of rules so as not to harm the continent. Check out the IAATO website here.