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Declining Tourism Numbers in Antarctica from Australia

Posted by Lindy on May 18, 2011

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

There is a report out of Hobart from IAATO – the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators – expressing concern over the dramatic drop in tourist visits to Antarctica. The organization is holding an annual general meeting in the Australian city that bills itself “the gateway to Antarctica.”

The reasons?  The dramatic recession of 2008-10 has kept international vacationers home.

But also new rules on the type of fuel used by the larger 500+ passenger ships that was brought in as a result worries about heavy oil spills. This arose in November 2007 when the tourist ship M/V Explorer sank in the Bransfield Strait between the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. All 154 people aboard were evacuated into lifeboats and eventually safely rescued. The vessel sank in deep water distant from land, and while some fuel spilled from the vessel, and may continue to do so, it has so far dispersed without significant environmental impact being detected. As a result it was decided only smaller ships that use lighter fuels are permitted and this has reduced the capacity for visitors.

IAATO anticipates 26,000 Antarctic visitors in the 2011-12 season, down 20,000 from three years ago.


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