Photo: Scott Wilson.
The 28 country members of the Antarctic Treaty have concluded they will limit tourism to the region in order to prevent it from environmental damage.
The decision was reached at the end of a two-week meeting in Baltimore, USA, in which the countries with interest in the region backed up the American proposal of strengthening regulations.
What are exactly those restrictions? Keep reading.New Regulations to Visit Antarctica
The main restriction is that boats with over 500 passengers will not be allowed to dock in the region, and only one boat will be allowed in each dock. Number of passengers to descend on the ground will not be able to pass 100, and every minute they are on the peninsula a guide is required for every 20 people.
Even though the decision will only enter into force when all States have confirmed it, the consensus was firm and it's believed there will be no objections, informs Clarin newspaper. The new regulation is also backed up by the Antarctica International Tourism Operators Association.
Growth of Tourism in Antarctica
According to Clarin, over 45 thousand people visited Antarctica during the recent Argentine summer: it's a seven times growth in the last 16 years. Meanwhile, during the last century the region's temperature has raised 2.5 degrees, says the paper.
Even those ships that do not get travelers to the peninsula, the sole traffic in the region's waters is dangerous and can cause accidents.
The idea of limiting tourism to this region has been going around over the last years, especially when disasters like the sank of the Explorer cruise take place. At that time, the then Environmental Secretary of Argentina spoke about limiting the departures to the region at least from Argentine docks. The announcement never materialized anyway.
More recently, some special reports began to inform about the important growth of tourism to Antarctica and the concerns that raised to conservation.
The issue with tourism to endangered areas is tricky. On one hand, some say tourism creates environmental awareness, but getting into this spaces cannot be without consequence.
Gerald Leape, from Pew Environment Group, was quoted by Clarin saying that, "visiting Antarctica should be a privilege, not a right." What do you think?