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Antarctica visitors drop 8.3% in 2010/11 and 25% fall for 2011/12 season, forecasts IAATO

Posted by Lindy on June 15, 2011

The total number of visitors to Antarctica during the 2010/11 season, and travelling with IAATO member-operators, was 33,824. This includes those travelling on traditional expedition ships, yachts, larger cruise-only vessels as well visitors participating in land programs. The overall seasonal results reflect a decrease of 8.3% last year’s total of 36,875 passengers.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) in reviewing the numbers by category, traditional small and medium-size expedition ships – which carry 500 or fewer passengers and conduct landings – accounted for 18,534 passengers. There were a total of 14,373 passengers in the cruise-only category; e.g. larger vessels that carry more than 500 passengers and only travel through the area without disembarking their guests ashore in Antarctica.

A much smaller air-sea category, that includes a combination of air transportation to Antarctica and small-ship cruising, tallied at 531 visitors. Land tourism accounted for an additional 386 visitors during the 2010-11seasons.

With a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) imposed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set to take place this August, IAATO projects an anticipated decrease in the cruise-only category from 14,373 to less than 5,000 for the 2011-12 season, that is the number of ships will decrease from 12 to just five in 2011-12. Because of this and the lingering effects of the slow economy, the overall number of visitors travelling  next season is projected at 25,319, a 25% decline from the season just ended.

“Antarctic tourism numbers have been trending downward since the 2007-08 season when IAATO members carried a total of 46,265 visitors to Antarctica,” noted Steve Wellmeier, Executive Director of IAATO.


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