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Travel Antarctica keeps attracting visitors — and it may be ‘last-chance tourism’

20:06  10 march  2018
20:06  10 march  2018 Source:   globalnews.ca

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Last - chance tourism . Many Antarctic tourists claim that they were originally attracted to Antarctica because of their interest in climate change and conservation. There is specific protocol for cleaning clothing and equipment that might carry invasive species, and for disposing of waste away.

“ Last - chance tourism is basically people trying to see sights that are under threat, either due to over- tourism , weather or nature, and Lynnes, however, is more skeptical that last - chance tourism is drawing visitors . She said there are several other reasons why tourists are flocking to Antarctica .

Scotia Sea in Antarctica. A rare blue iceberg is seen with Chinstrap Penguins.© Getty Images Scotia Sea in Antarctica. A rare blue iceberg is seen with Chinstrap Penguins.

Tourists are known to flock to New York, London and Paris for vacation getaways. But it seems travellers are increasingly taking a trip less taken — to Antarctica.

Antarctica, or the South Pole of Earth, is the coldest continent and temperatures often drop below -73 degrees Celsius. And while photos often show snow and ice covering its sprawling landscapes, it is a desert where very little snow and rain falls.

READ MORE: Emperor penguins in Antarctica take unintentional ‘selfie’

But the extreme cold isn't enough to stop tourists from making the long trip to the continent. The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), an organization jointly run by 100 travel organizations around the world, carefully tracks and regulates visits to Antarctica.

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Other things you may have noticed are the air temperatures that continue to warm, the rain—something that never used to The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, the organization that oversees virtually all tours to Antarctica , estimates that visitor counts for 2017 will meet or exceed

READ MORE: Antarctica keeps attracting visitors — and it may be ‘ last - chance tourism ’. “ Be aware of the impact you have,” he said. “If you’re traveling on a cruise ship and only spend four hours at the place and then leave, then none of your money will go to the local economy.”

Antarctica travel expected to reach 'peak levels'

Between April 2016 and 2017, 44,376 travellers came to the continent — that number has been rising steadily since 2011. In the early 1990s, there were about 5,000 tourists visiting Antarctica each year.

Amanda Lynnes, a spokeswoman for IAATO told Global News that the number of visitors peaked in the 2007-2008 season, but then dropped amid the economic downturn and a ban on heavy fuel oil in Antarctic waters. But now, tourism is expected to keep rising.

a close up of a sign© Provided by Corus Media Holdings, Inc.

"We are now approaching peak levels again in terms of overall numbers," she said. "Polar tourism is strongly linked to GDP as you might expect. At the moment, we are expecting numbers to continue rising steadily."

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Antarctica keeps attracting visitors — and it may be ‘ last - chance tourism ’. Between April 2016 and 2017, 44,376 travellers came to the continent — the number of visitors has been rising steadily since 2011.

Antarctica keeps attracting visitors — and it may be ‘ last - chance tourism ’. Between April 2016 and 2017, 44,376 travellers came to the continent — the number of visitors has been rising steadily since 2011.

The continent is expecting 46,385 visitors in the current season, ending April 2018.

But why are travellers visiting a region with little infrastructure, bitterly cold weather, and enduring a gruelling amount of travel?

Last-chance tourism

Toronto-based travel expert Barry Choi explains that the phenomenon of "last-chance tourism" may have something to do with it. The travel style has been rising the past years, with Forbes magazine predicting it will be the top travel trend in 2018.

Some cities in Italy, with rapidly rising water levels, are included in last-chance tourism. Other popular destinations include Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Choi explained that tourism to these sites can put an even bigger strain on the struggles the environment is already facing — but that hasn't curbed popularity.

"There are glaciers you can hike, places that are more sustainable than Antarctica," he explained. "But the problem is with last-chance tourism, people have done Alaska, people have done Glacier National Park, they want to be able to say they've gone to Antarctica."

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last chance tourism videos and latest news articles; GlobalNews.ca your source for the latest news on last chance tourism . Antarctica keeps attracting visitors — and it may be ‘ last - chance tourism ’.

Antarctica keeps attracting visitors — and it may be ‘ last - chance tourism ’. Between April 2016 and 2017, 44,376 travellers came to the continent — the number of visitors has been rising steadily since 2011.

The travel expert added that those who want to take these kinds of trips should do in-depth research, and opt for sustainable tourism companies. Choi explained these types of companies will invest some of their profits back into local communities and environmental preservation.

Cruise companies and expeditions

Lynnes, however, is more skeptical that last-chance tourism is drawing visitors. She said there are several other reasons why tourists are flocking to Antarctica.

Regardless of why tourists visit the region, travel companies seem to be catching on to the rising popularity.

Several cruise companies are offering trips to Antarctica. Among the notable ones is the National Geographic Explorer, which offers a "Journey to Antarctica" led by an expert at the travel company affiliated with the magazine.

On its website, the National Geographic explains that travellers will board a state-of-the-art ship from either Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile. They'll then explore surrounding waterways and islands before arriving in Antarctica.

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READ MORE: Antarctica keeps attracting visitors — and it may be ‘ last - chance tourism ’. Philippine Airlines said it would reduce flights en route to airports serving as a gateway to the small island, about 315 kilometers (196 miles) south of Manila. Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo

Antarctica keeps attracting visitors — and it may be ‘ last - chance tourism ’. Between April 2016 and 2017, 44,376 travellers came to the continent — the number of visitors has been rising steadily since 2011.

"Glide around enormous tabular icebergs by Zodiac, walk along beaches covered with thousands of penguins, and kayak amid abundant marine life," the website reads.

The entire trip lasts 14 days.

Lynnes explained that all companies offering trips to the continent must seek a permit to travel to Antarctica. While the IAATO doesn't necessarily promote tourism to the continent, most companies travelling to the region book through the organization. It lists all the approved tour operators on its website.

"We advocate and promote the practice of safe, environmentally responsible Antarctic tourism," she said, explaining that all "tourism activities must have less than a minor or transitory impact on the environment."

Climate change and Antarctica

From warming temperatures to melting ice, the effects of climate change on Antarctica are numerous. According to the British Antarctic Survey, the Antarctic Peninsula is one of the most rapidly warming parts of the planet.

READ MORE: Antarctica’s sea ice hits second-lowest point on record

Some wildlife populations are declining, while others are adapting to the changing temperatures. Emperor penguin populations have declined by nearly 50 per cent in some areas, while Chinstrap penguins have become more common.

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Tourism on Antarctica has been increasing dramatically in the past twenty years, from a few Antarctica is the last unspoiled place on Earth. It has a very delicate ecosystem that could be (8) It would limit the number of visitors and therefore contain the amount of environmental damage, and

Last - chance tourism . Wikimedia Commons - Tourists frolic in Antarctica in 2013. There is specific protocol for cleaning clothing and equipment that might carry invasive species, and for disposing of “ Antarctica is stunning, and it 's impossible to fully appreciate it without seeing it firsthand,” Glenn said.

Another role the IAATO plays is monitoring whether visitors to the region are negatively affecting the environment. Lynnes explained the travel is still fairly limited, and many visitors are actually studying climate change's effects on ice and wildlife, which she says helps more than hinders the region.

The main concern in terms of the environment, Lynnes added, is introducing non-native species to Antarctica.

"There’s a suite of procedures we developed to act against this," she explained, "from disinfecting equipment and clothing to monitoring for invasive species. To date, there is no evidence of tourism introducing non-native species," she said, but added that "monitoring is key."

Canadian government's Antarctica travel tips

The Canadian government says those travelling to Antarctica should be aware that there are no telephones or communication services available, other than at research stations. The stations may not be able to assist tourists who need to communicate with those outside the region.

"There are no tourist facilities on land," the government's website adds, other than the ones arranged prior to travel.

READ MORE: WWF reports only 2 baby penguins survived after hard breeding year in Antarctica

While scientific expeditions and organized tours are acceptable, Canadians are "strongly discouraged" from independent travel to Antarctica because there are no emergency services available, and there is a "potential harmful impact on the environment."

For emergency assistance, Canadians can contact the government at (613) 996-8885.

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