Sustainable Tourism in Natural Protected Areas as a Benchmark for Antarctic Tourism

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Antarctic tourism is increasing every summer, reaching 74,401 tourists in the 2019/20 season, a 32% increase since the previous season. The Consultative Parties to the Antarctic Treaty have discussed this issue since the 1960s. The adoption of the Madrid Protocol constituted a major step in regulating Antarctic tourism. Yet, the substantial increase of tourism since the adoption of the Protocol has raised concerns, highlighting the need of rethinking how tourism is managed, and eventually regulated. There have been suggestions of addressing the lessons learnt from tourism in other natural protected areas (NPA), to inform decisions on how to better manage tourism in Antarctica. This document aims to summarize some of the lessons and recommendations derived from that vast experience, to inform current debates on Antarctic tourism. We highlight 9 key concepts that we understand are particularly relevant in the context of current debates on Antarctic tourism.These are largely derived from a recent rsummary on Tourism and Visitor Management in Protected Areas, edited by IUCN. Many of the challenges, concepts, and tools that tourism in NPA faces and uses are being considered in the current debate on Antarctic tourism. Yet, a more systematic and comprehensive approach to the analysis of these issues is still missing. We believe a thorough analysis of this experience in NPA will shed valuable insights to the debate on how to improve Antarctic tourism management. Finally, based on the successful experience of CCAMLR, we suggest it might be time to explore further the idea of developing a convention on Antarctic tourism to regulate the activity.

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