Visitors travelling to Antarctica on the rise

Published on : Friday, May 6, 2016

AntarcticaThe total number of visitors travelling to Antarctica, with International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) members, was 38,478, an increase of 4.6% compared to the previous season.

The 2015-2016 Antarctic season figures were announced by IAATO on the first day of its 25th Anniversary Meeting in its home town of Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

Overall, levels of visitation have been increasing steadily since 2011- 2012 in line with global trends.

Most (98.9%) seaborne passengers travelled to the Antarctic Peninsula with 21.3% of these on ‘cruise only’ vessels that do not make landings.

The remainder visited the Peninsula on vessels carrying fewer than 500 passengers, which make landings. Of these visitors, 72.5% sailed and 6% flew from South America.

In the case of the latter, known as air/cruise tourism, passengers land on the Peninsula and immediately board a ship. This sector showed the most growth compared to the previous season, increasing by 37.5%. Overall, seaborne tourism with landings grew by 10.5% since the 2014-2015 season, a trend that is expected to continue next year.

American and Australian visitors topped the list, accounting for 35.5% and 11% of the total number respectively, similar to last year.

China moved up to third place, accounting for 10.6% of the total, increasing by 25.7% since the previous season. British (8.4%), German (7.4%) and Canadian (4.8%) visitors were the next most abundant nationalities in Antarctica in 2015-2016.

Estimates released for next season, 2016-2017, indicate that growth will continue with 43,885 visitors expected, still less than the peak of 46,265 during the 2007-2008 austral summer.

Visiting the coastal regions of Antarctica is the most popular form of tourism with only 1.1% of visitors travelling inland to the Antarctic interior in 2015-2016, comparable with previous years.

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