Mabel Fatokun

Want To Tour The Frozen Continent? A Yes OR No

More people are visiting the frozen continent than ever before. Wouldn’t you agree it’s perilous to want to tour this icy Continent at the detriment of nature?

It is now unethical to even consider tourism to the Frozen Antarctic Coast. The sight of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner parked on Antarctic ice with happy flight attendants posing in front of it while wearing knee-length gowns was striking. Captured late last year to commemorate the first-ever landing of one of the biggest aircraft in the world on an ice and snow runway, the photo appeared to usher in a new era for Antarctic travel.

Frozen Continent

Travel to Earth’s southernmost continent has nevertheless reached a new milestone.

This tourist season (October 2023–March 2024) will see 100,000 tourists for the first time, a 40% increase over the previous record. This has increased the urgency of the debate about how much if any, tourism should be permitted on the freezing continent.

According to Claire Christian, executive director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, a group of non-governmental organisations that has been promoting Antarctic conservation for more than 40 years, “that number has really lit a fire under folks.” “We are now seeing an urgency [about] the need to properly manage this industry and its effect on a very fragile and rapidly changing environment.”

Not only is the Antarctic’s ecosystem delicate, but it also lacks a single governing body, making it vulnerable. A modification can only be implemented with the consent of all 56 parties to the Antarctic Treaty, which was created in 1961 to provide governance for the region.

“The last major decision on tourism was a measure passed in 2009 that prohibits cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers from making landings,” said Christian. Due to domestic ratification issues, not all signatory nations have officially implemented the regulation. However, IAATO has accepted it and set limits on the number of ships and passengers visiting a specific location daily.

According to one estimate, cruise ship emissions were primarily responsible for the approximate 83 tonnes of snow that each visitor would successfully have melted between 2016 and 2020.

Is it worth it to tour the Antarctic islands or oceans? In as much as Travelers do not need permission to go to Antarctica, while tourism operators must hold a valid permit, a bit of background on why it is legal to visit Antarctica has to be addressed. Antarctica is not a country. The continent is protected by the Antarctic Treaty, which preserves it for peaceful and scientific use.

Antarctica is a popular destination for tourists because of its abundant animals, breathtaking beauty, and spirit of adventure, as well as its lack of structures like cell towers and cars. They discuss her deafening quiet.

Locating each of these attractions elsewhere in the world is becoming more complex. They are also going extinct in Antarctica. Parts of the continent are prematurely falling into the ocean due to melting. And because Antarctica tourism is booming, more people are there than ever.

Antarctica, a global commons, is unique due to its wildness and silence, making it the last of its kind. Overtourism, a carbon-intensive activity, contributes to climate change by causing ice loss and threatening whales, seals, and penguins. The carbon footprint for a person’s Antarctic cruise can be equivalent to the average European’s output for a year, as cruise ships are heavy polluters and tourists must fly far. This type of tourism has a larger carbon footprint than other types of travel.

An already delicate environment is being threatened by antarctic tourism. Snow melting is accelerated by soot deposits from ship engines. Hikes can harm flora, which in the severe environment takes well over ten years to regenerate. People run the risk of bringing in invasive species and disease. Scientists at North Carolina State have demonstrated that their mere presence stresses out penguins and may have an impact on their ability to reproduce.

Antarctica is a unique natural wonder, untouched by human presence. It serves as a buffer against climate change, a freshwater storehouse, and a refuge for various marine life. While some argue that tourists promote Antarctica’s protection and environmental change, research shows that in many cases, Antarctic tourists also promote more tourism.

Antarctica requires guardians, not promoters. Making this area unusable would be a symbol of its importance, fragility, and near-sacredness. It is just not worth risking it to make wealthy tourists feel amazed.


Chat us