For some it’s the last place on earth, the seventh check mark on their continent list. But the growing influx of tourists to Antarctica has U.S. leaders thinking about the consequences, and on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the Arctic Council and the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting about the need to limit visitors to the region.
“The changes underway in the Arctic will have long-term impacts on our economic future, our energy future, and indeed, again, the future of our planet,” she said. “So it is crucial that we work together.” In her statement, she proposed new international standards that would limit the number of tourist vessel landings and cited the need to have cooperation in restricting potentially hazardous discharges from ships. She also focused on setting safety standards for tour operations; citing some of the recent cruise ship accidents, she made a recommendation for new requirements for lifeboats on tourist ships “to make sure they can keep passengers alive until rescue comes.”
The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators has reported that over 46,000 tourists visited Antarctica in the 2007-2008 tour season — which is about four times the number of visitors as during the 2000-2001 season. What do you think? What standards would you like to see in place to protect the Arctic?
- Nat Geo Expeditions