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Tourism as a force for good in Antarctica?

News   •   Jan 13, 2015 16:19 GMT

With tourism to Antarctica increasing every year, there is an understandable concern that this could be having a detrimental effect on this unique and unspoiled environment. The question has been asked if it is ethically acceptable to go to Antarctica as a tourist, (you can read the BBC article here.) Can tourism to Antarctica do more good than harm?

We take extremely seriously our responsibility to minimise our impact on these pristine areas. Exodus is an Associate Member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and has agreed to abide by one of the tourism world's most conscientious codes of conduct. We only work with operators who are also members and abide by the same rules.

All of the ships we use strictly adhere to codes of conduct designed to protect this unspoiled environment. While it is true that certain sites are more visited than others given the ease of access, we will never visit a site at the same time as any other vessel, and we will never take more than 100 people to shore at one time. Procedures are also in place to prevent contamination, both from the ship to the shore, but also between different sites in Antarctica itself; all kit is vacuumed prior to the first landing, and all boots are not only disinfected at the start of the voyage, but are also washed each time they are taken off and returned to the ship.

For several years Exodus also supported penguinologist Tom Hart and his project, Penguin Lifelines, which is collaboration between Oxford University, ZSL, Oceanites, Stony Brook, the British Antarctic Survey and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, researching the threats to Antarctic penguins. Tom travels on tourist ships to Antarctica each year, allowing him to access to an increased number and variety of sites within a season and therefore increasing the amount of data he is able to collect in a less intrusive manner than previous research methods.

While we at Exodus are extremely concerned with the impact of tourism in the pristine wilderness of Antarctica, we also believe that handled correctly, tourism itself can have a positive impact by raising awareness and passion. The more people connect with a place, the more they will fight to protect it. No one who travels to Antarctica comes away untouched by this incredible environment. 

Sarah Ahern, Product Manager - Polar & Wildlife

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