IAATO Reports Antarctic Cruise Tourist Numbers

By ,   May 4, 2018 ,   Cruise Industry

IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators) reported visitor numbers for 2017-2018 Antarctic season at the start of the annual meeting in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Association has been monitoring and analyzing trends since 1991 as part of the commitment to ‘leave only footprints’ via the effective self-management of activities.

Devil Island Port (Antarctica)

The upward trend in the number of visitors recorded since 2011-2012 continued in 2017-2018. Most of the visitors - 41,996 - travelled to Antarctica by sea on vessels offering shore excursions, representing a 16% increase in comparison with the previous year. 3,408 of them flew to South Shetland Islands on Antarctic Peninsula where they boarded a ship for onward travel.

The sector, popular as air/cruise, has increased (6%) in comparison with the previous season. A total of 9,131 visitors experienced Antarctica on 1 of 4 cruise-only ships that do not make landings, which is an increase of 22% since 2016-2017.

A total of 580 visitors flew to field camps in the interior of Antarctica with IAATO land operators. The number of Antarctic visitors was 51,707 in 2017-2018, an increase of 17% in comparison with the previous season. 

American visitors remain the most numerous - 33% of the total number, which is the same as the previous year. Chinese visitors were the 2nd most numerous - 16% of all visitors and increasing by 4% points compared to 2016-2017. Australians, Germans and British were the next most enthusiastic visitors - 11%, 7% and 7% respectively.