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Hot debate over Antarctic tourism in New Delhi

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Tourism is the activity that brings the largest number of people to Antarctica nowadays. It is a topic that is hotly debated at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in New Delhi this week.

In the last decade, tourism has swiftly emerged as the activity that is bringing the largest number of people to Antarctica. The number of shipborne visitors has increased by four-fold between 1995 and 2005. The 2006/07 season saw the largest tourist vessel ever to operate in Antarctic waters. The Golden Princess carried 3,700 persons: more people than the peak summer population for all Antarctic national programs.

Up to now, Antarctic tourism is not regulated. There are some reporting obligations, voluntary guidelines relating to particular sites, and generic environmental impact assessment obligations for all who go to Antarctica. But there

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, May 21st, 2007:

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As they say, “There goes the neighborhood”.  I wholeheartedly believe that if tourism is allowed in one of our last true wildernesses, SOMEONE has to be put in charge.  Educating tourists while aboard ship should be a real priority.  If one is educated on the impact one human has on the environment, they might just respect the land a whole lot more.  This could take form of a classroom, and no one allowed off the ship onto the land until they pass the class.  Nothing too scientific, but lessons on “leaving nothing but footprints”, respecting nature (leave it alone) and animal encounters.  Make it mandatory, but make it fun.  People really do crave to learn.  And the impact on the land would truly be minimal.  Oh, yeah...and make the ships ICEBERG PROOF!!!!

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