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Miles of ice, raging storms and loneliness: Antarctica is one of the last undiscovered regions for many people in a world that can be traveled all the way to their last corner. Of course, Antarctica has long since been organized, and it is practically the only way to reach these extreme regions.

But do you really have to? Television reports on the Antarctic show breathtaking images of a magnificent nature and thus fuel the longing to experience this place up close in all its untouched nature. And then of course there is the thrill of going there, where so far hardly anyone was.

That is a fallacy. The Isla Barrienta, one of the most accessible islands on the Antarctic continent, now attracts 7,000 tourists a year, with a total of 20,000 visitors, and the number is increasing. On Isla Barrienta, biologists record the most serious damage to the fragile plant cover, which consists mainly of lichen and mosses. But this is just one of the most visible effects of Antarctic tourism, other critical points:

  • The extremely long journey, which usually involves a (transatlantic) flight in addition to the voyage (and the associated CO2 emissions), leads to an extremely high level of CO2 pollution compared to other trips

  • only smaller ships can take back the garbage caused by Antarctic tourists and dispose of it properly on land. Large cruise ships with 500 passengers on board simply throw up to 1,000 tons of waste per trip

  • In addition to the vegetation, the wildlife is disturbed by the visitors. An example: Elephant seals, which spend their rest periods on Isla Yankee Bay, are repeatedly frightened by tourist groups and consume unnecessary energy.

Because antarctic tourism is flourishing and the destination is becoming more and more interesting for “regular tourists”, there are even plans to build a hotel complex on Isla Decepción, along with paved roads and a runway. A post office including a souvenir shop is already in the Bahia Neko on the Antarctic continent.

The Federal Government rejects this development and has argued against extending the tourist infrastructure in the Antarctic. But here, in my opinion, every single person is in demand. Before you book a trip to the Antarctic, you should at least in-depth with the consequences for the environment.

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