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US Calls for Stricter Tourism Guidelines in Antarctica

Antarctica United States Sustainability News
by Julie Schwietert Apr 6, 2009

Earlier today, Fran Golden, co-author of Frommer’s Alaska Cruises & Ports of Call and guest editor of USA Today’s Cruise Log Blog, reported that US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has proposed “more controls on tourism in Antarctica.”

Concerned about travelers’ safety and environmental integrity in the remote and frigid, region, Secretary Clinton’s proposal included:

“…new requirements on the number of lifeboats on ships…,[m]andatory limits on the size of cruise ships sailing in Antarctica and the number of passengers [who] can be brought ashore…, [as well as] one guide for every 20 visitors ashore.”

Signatory members of the Antarctic Treaty and the Arctic Council received Secretary Clinton’s proposal positively, but it remains to be seen if the policies advocated by the US will be implemented, especially if Antarctic tour operators have their say.

Antarctica has no government and does not belong to any country, though it is a temporary home to researchers from all over the world. To date, many of the continent’s tourism policies have been agreed upon by the Treaty and Council nations, which have little, if any, authority to exercise enforcement.

What kinds of policies might benefit Antarctica, how should tourism policies for the continent be developed, and how might they be enforced? Share your ideas in the comments below.


Believe it or not, Matador has an Antarctica destination expert! rico nico, originally from San Francisco, California, worked in the dining room at McMurdo Station for five months. About the experience, he writes:

My experience at McMurdo was one my life’s highlights. I commonly describe it as “living on another planet.” Of the many oddities, a few of the most profound are: the absence of children, not seeing the stars or the moon (daylight 24/7), and the monochromatic landscape. Everything is white, grey, or blue. Seeing green and smelling the earth when I came home was incredible!

Another huge perk: included in your free/paid, trip to Antarctica is a return-when-you-wish trip to New Zealand (your departure point for the ice). I’ve been down there twice and am happy to make suggestions about traveling the islands–from how to buy a car to what trails to backpack.

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