Calls for tight regulation of Antarctic tours
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The image of Antarctica as a frozen wilderness untouched by man is becoming a thing of the past. Today, hundreds of travel agencies worldwide promote trips to the vast, icy continent, currently resulting in over 60 cruise-ship visits a year—the vast majority using Argentina as a jumping-off point.
With the visits, however, have come accidents, and growing calls for restrictions on human access to a region designated by the international community as “a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.”
The last two November-to-March tourism seasons have seen four maritime accidents off the coast of Antarctica, the latest involving the small cruise vessel Ocean Nova, which ran aground last month near Argentina’s San Martín research station. The vessel managed to get clear after two days and return to port under its own power. It did not spill any of its fuel.