Permanent land based tourism in Antarctica: Nightmare on the horizon or unfeasible?
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Tourism in Antarctica has increased steadily over the last two decades and established itself as a legitimate Antarctic activity. Tour operations in the Antarctic are predominantly ship based but other market segments have developed as well, including land-based tourism using aircraft. The development of permanent land-based infrastructures and facilities for the accommodation of tourists in Antarctica has concerned academics for decades. Permanent tourist facilities are believed to start a completely new chapter in Antarctic tourism, especially in combination with an air link (Lovering & Prescott 1979: 99). Hotels, casinos, theme parks and other forms of permanent land based tourism facilities often portray in the media as a nightmare glooming at the horizon of near future in Antarctica (Mercopress 2004, Guardian 2006). However, apart from tourist accommodation at selected scientific stations and a number of tented camps, no permanent, purpose built tourist facilities have been established over the past half-century. Recently the issue of permanent land based tourism has caught the attention of policy makers within the Antarctic Treaty System. At the Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts (ATME) on tourism and non-governmental activities in Tromso in 2004 New Zealand proposed a prohibition of permanent land based tourism facilities, because it launches questions on user rights, property rights and legal jurisdiction (Bastmeijer & Roura 2004: 780). During the last Antarctic Treaty Consultancy Meeting in Stockholm, June 2005, land based tourism was on top of the list of issues to be discussed during the tourism-working group. Countries such as New Zealand, Australia and Germany tabled working papers and argued for a precautionary approach and the adoption of a prohibiting measure against the establishment of land-based tourism in Antarctica. Other Consultative Parties did not share their views and no consensus could be reached at this point (ASOC 2005b).