Antarctic Treaty demands tourism regulation in Antarctica

The 53 member countries of the Antarctic Treaty at their annual meeting held in Buenos Aires warned that tourism should be regulated in Antarctica urgently owing to the environmental threats it possesses. According to French authorities, 44,000 tourists visited Antarctica during the austral summer of 2016-17 when compared with just 9,000 tourists in 1995-96.

Segolene Royal, French ambassador for the Arctic and Antarctic poles, said that with the lack of rules and regulations, travel agencies offer trips to Antarctica on boats equipped with helicopters or submarines occasionally. “These activities create considerable disturbance. We are witnessing a race toward large-scale tourism that is dangerous for ecosystems,” she said at the assembly on Wednesday. However, she added that this doesn’t mean that tourism will be banned at Antarctica. It will be carried out in a way that fulfils the treaty and environment protection protocol.

The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Buenos Aires also urged for scientific co-operation between countries that have jointly set up around 100 research bases on the continent. China’s fifth permanent scientific station planned in Antarctica is also under examination. The station would be located in the Ross Sea area south of New Zealand. 11,012 tourists from United States visited Antarctica in 2016-17, which is the highest. 5,145 Chinese travellers and 3,790 from Australia visited the continent, marking the second and third most visitors.