In a new study, researchers found a significant reason why many people travel to Antarctica is to socialize – to celebrate anniversaries, honeymoons or to spend time with family for a holiday – rather than because of a particular interest in the land and its wildlife. The finding raises questions about the effectiveness of the conservation appeals and educational efforts for this emerging group of Antarctic tourists.
“Some people go to Antarctica for learning and experience, some people go to fulfill a lifetime dream, and some people go there as an adventure – they have been to many places, but they haven’t been there,” said study co-author Yu-Fai Leung, professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at North Carolina State University. “The social bonding group’s motivations were interesting. They didn’t mention anything about penguins or seeing other wildlife as a principal motivation; they’re going for a vacation, birthday or anniversary celebrations, and they chose Antarctica as the backdrop.”
Researchers launched the pre-pandemic study on tourism to Antarctica as travel to the continent has grown and diversified. The pre-pandemic, 2019-2020 tourist season saw more than 74,000 travelers – double the number of travelers seen five years prior. While tourism can be a tool to inspire people to become ambassadors for conservation for Antarctica – a fragile ecosystem facing crumbling glaciers, invasive species and wildlife diseases – it also can create challenges. Read more at North Carolina State University
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