Being there: examining the behaviour of Antarctic tourists through their blogs
Most visitors to Antarctica today are commercial tourists. Over 150 000 tourists visited Antarctica between 2007 and 2010, making up more than 700 000 person/landings. Despite the scale of tourism in Antarctica, knowledge about its environmental impacts is generally inconclusive, and monitoring is limited. This article examines tourist behaviour regarding the environment using information available on travel weblogs (blogs) posted by tourists on the Internet. Fifty blogs describing Antarctic travel were analysed, mostly as part of organized tourism cruises, during the four Antarctic summer seasons between 2007 and 2010, both qualitatively and quantitatively. The blogs described the activities of 90 people who had visited Deception Island as part of their itinerary and who, overall, had undertaken at least 190 person/landings in Antarctica. Blog analysis highlighted the importance of wildlife as a tourist attraction. In the blogs it was apparent that touristwildlife interactions result in a range of behaviours from both individual tourists and animals. Tourism results in cultural traces and other environmental consequences, although some of these would not be judged as ‘‘impacts’’ under the current practice of implementing the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty. Blogs showed many more instances of compliance than of noncompliance with environmental regulations. Tourist blogs illustrate the behavioural processes by which environmental impacts from tourism could occur, which are repeated through thousands of person-landings and other activities in Antarctica every season. Precautionary action may be a practical alternative to manage tourism at some sites until it is clearer how this activity affects the environment.
Keywords: Polar tourism; Antarctic tourism; behavioural archaeology; tourist behaviour; tourism impacts; Antarctic environment
(Published: 28 December 2012)
Citation: Polar Research 2012, 31, 10905, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v31i0.10905
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