Impact of Tourism on Antarctica Antarctica is the most Southerly continent located in the South Pole. 5th largest of the world’s 7 continents not sighted until 1820. When people did find out about Antarctica it was too expensive for people to go there. There are no hotels in Antarctica yet but some people have called for quotas on the number of tourists, so that the need for hotels never came about. Travel companies have joined together to form the IAATO to promote responsible tourism. Who or what is affected by the tourism? Antarctica doesn’t have any resident’s just short term visitors, so it cannot get affected that much and the wildlife there which is protected severely for example, seal hunting is now strictly controlled and kept to a low rate. No non-native species are allowed and dog sleds are banned. Antarctica relies on tourists because there are no residents there. Even though the tourists only go there for a short time they affect the country a lot as the scenery is fragile even though it is twice the size of Australia. Tourists, when they go there want to visit the most picturesque parts of Antarctica and they tend to do it in large groups on large cruise ships which has more of an effect on the environment there. There is a limited amount of tourists but the more ships there are the more accidents there are, for example, the sinking of the M/V Explorer in the Bransfield Strait after hitting an iceberg. How is it protected? Because Antarctica is so fragile and vulnerable it has to be protected. It is protected by an international agreement which explains what humans can and cannot do in Antarctica, for example, all tour expeditions must be guided and none should environmentally sensitive areas. Also there was a voluntary agreement to limit mining and a huge campaign by pressure groups (who tried to influence the views of others). Other activities such as fishing and whaling have not been banned but strictly regulated with the aim of making them sustainable. When and why do tourists go there? Tourists go to Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer because that is the best time to have clear ice-free seas, see breeding animals etc. Tourists go there for the amazing glacial scenery and fantastic wildlife, e.g., Orcas, penguins.
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