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The Antarctic Treaty recognizes tourism as a legitimate activity in Antarctica. The number of annual visitors has grown rapidly, from a mere few hundreds in the 1950s to a few thousands in the 1990s and to tens of thousands now.
At present, tourism in Antarctica is self-regulated by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) which appears to have strictly adhered to the Antarctic Treaty. IAATO coordinates with other professional organisations, such as the British Antarctic Survey, to develop visit guidelines. These guidelines regulate the size of ships that can enter Antarctic waters and the number of people who can land at designated sites along the coastline of Antarctica.
Antarctica is increasingly popular with tourists. Sustainable tourism in Antarctica requires the significance of its educative potential to be weighed against its potential environmental impacts.
The positive and negative impacts of Antarctic tourism include:
For further interests, more information is available from The Antarctic of our sustainability hub.
Number of Tourists in Antarctica since 2002
The figures include all visitors who set foot on the Antarctic continent or its adjacent islands