Happy World Responsible Tourism Day 2015
With less than a week until the new Port Lockroy team leave the UK for Port Lockroy, today we celebrate World Responsible Tourism Day.
Antarctica is a unique and extraordinary place to visit, both due to its scenery and wildlife, but also because it is governed by a unique and extraordinary treaty guaranteeing its peace and use primarily for scientific purposes. The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 nations, and today has 52 signatories.
Seen as one of the most successful international agreements to date, the Treaty, along with the Environmental Protocol, also issues guidelines on tourism management and specific guidelines for those sites most visited by tourists in order to protect the surrounding environment and wildlife. All six of the Historic Sites and Monuments (HSMs) that we manage have these visitor guidelines, and we ask all of our visitors to adhere to them.
Most tourist operators in the Antarctic also belong to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), which is dedicated to facilitating appropriate, safe and environmentally sound private-sector travel to the Antarctic. We, as an affiliate member of IAATO, work closely with them to encourage responsible tourism by all visitors to our sites.
As the number one most visited site in Antarctica, and with a penguin colony surrounding the historic base, Port Lockroy has guidelines limiting the number of visitors to the island at any one time and in any one day. The team works closely with ship operators throughout the season to ensure that these are not exceeded. As well as restricting visitor numbers, Port Lockroy has other guidelines to ensure that the impact of the base, its staff and its visitors on the surrounding environment and wildlife is kept to a minimum. The Port Lockroy team enforce these by ensuring that at the beginning of every visit, tourists are briefed on the history of the site as well as the visitor guidelines and their importance. The team carry out wildlife monitoring and regular beach combing so that any problems can be quickly identified – to date the data shows us that visitors over the last 19 years have had no measurable impact on the breeding gentoo penguin colony surrounding the base. Finally, we are very careful with our waste – we minimise it as much as possible and all rubbish is removed from Port Lockroy during and at the end of the season with the kind assistance of IAATO vessels and the Royal Navy ice patrol vessel HMS Protector.
Antarctica is a unique and extraordinary place to visit, and we will continue to work to support responsible tourism to ensure that it remains that way.
All Antarctic Treaty visitor guidelines for our sites can be found on our website at www.ukaht.org/where-we-work. To find out more about the Antarctic Treaty visit www.ats.aq and to find out more about IAATO visit www.iaato.org.
To find out more about responsible tourism and World Responsible Tourism Day visit WTM.