Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tourism in Antarctica - Threat to Antarctica's environment

For many years Antarctica was isolated continent with almost no tourists but lately number of tourists in Antarctica is steadily growing with 45,213 in 2008-09 season compared to only 6,700 tourists in the 1992-93 season. More tourists mean more garbage and more invasive species, and these two combined are doing big damage to many sensitive ecosystems in this ice kingdom.

However there is one reason for hope because at the conclusion of a two-week meeting in Baltimore, signatories to the 50-year-old Antarctic Treaty agreed to impose legally binding restrictions on the size of cruise ships that land passengers and the number of people they can bring ashore at any one time. This should limit the number of tourist visits in Antarctica and help protect fragile environment in Antarctica.

However the question "when exactly" is still very much in order because the changes to Antarctic Treaty will become legally binding once each of the 28 nations that have signed this treaty ratifies them. This could sadly take same time, especially knowing the relevance of environmental issues in politics but at least the revisions to this treaty were adopted by consensus and with no opposition.

Ecosystems on Antarctica are among the most sensitive on our planet and Antarctica's wildness is something so beautiful and so unique, beautiful monument of untouched nature. Keeping this continent away from tourists is the only way to preserve this unique wildness in its full beauty.

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