What Happened to Antarctic Tourism?

Travel to the continent may drop 25 percent

Antarctic glacier

Antarctic glacier     Photo: RAYANDBEE/Flickr

Three-thousand fewer people visited Antarctica last year, down 8.3 percent from the 36,875 visitors recorded the year before. The International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators expects the total to drop even further for the upcoming 2011-2012 travel season, when an environmental ban on the cruise ship fuel oils from the International Maritime Organization goes into effect in August. Last year, only a slim majority of Antarctic tourists set foot on the continent. The rest sailed through the Southern Ocean, a famous destination for glacier sightseeing. In February 2010, a chunk of ice the size of Luxembourg moved into the ocean off the continent's eastern coast.

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