LAST JUNE, Matador Change editor Julie Schwietert posted US Calls for Stricter Tourism Guidelines in Antarctica. It drew in some interesting viewpoints about travel to the white continent.
Tim Patterson said,
The contrast between the reality of the place and the luxury of the tourism is just too weird. Antarctica is a destination one should have to earn.
Eva Holland chimed in,
As far as Antarctica itself goes, I’ve always sort of felt like it’s the only part of the planet with NO naturally occurring human residents — and as such, it really ought to be left alone.
While our own Hal Amen took a tongue-in-cheek approach,
Let’s sneak down there while no one’s looking.
He was obviously joking, but if Hal or any of you want to see Antarctica without actually having to freeze your extremities off, you can.
The flight to where you came from
Antarctica Flights, operated by Croyden Travel in conjunction with Qantas, specializes in one-day excursion flights over Antarctica. You can board in Melbourne or Sydney on a flight that lasts around twelve hours and lands where it takes off.
Chris Johnson of The Age took a New Year’s Eve flight. He reported that although these flights have been occurring since 1994 (they’ve made 87 flights and flown 30,000 people over Antarctica), this last NYE flight was the first time an airbus A380 — seating 450 passengers — was used. The prices ranged from AUD $999 to $6000.
According to Antarctica Flights’ website, the experts you fly with “include scientists, glaciologists, explorers, adventurers or mountaineers.” On the NYE flight, you would have been dancing in the aisles to jazz music while the endless ice passed beneath you.
And the environment?
Besides donating $500,000 to various charities, Croydon Travel offsets their offices’ carbon footprint and offers passengers the opportunity to do the same.
Exorbitant prices aside, would you do this? Or do you agree with Tim that a visit to Antarctica needs to be earned?
And is this responsible tourism?