Antarctic tourism: developing knowledge and tools to minimise cumulative impacts on biodiversity and wilderness values in Antarctica

  • Bastmeijer, Kees (Primary Chief Investigator (PCI))
  • Chown, Steven (Partner Investigator (PI))
  • Convey, Peter (Partner Investigator (PI))
  • Lee, Jasmine (Partner Investigator (PI))
  • Aerts, Rien (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Bokhorst, Stef (Chief Investigator (CI))
  • Leung, Yu-Fai (Partner Investigator (PI))

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

In the past thirty years, the number of tourists visiting Antarctica increased from almost 6,500 in the 1991–1992 season to almost 75,000 for the 2019–20 season. It is expected that numbers will rise strongly again in the post- COVID-19 period. For several reasons this growth of Antarctic tourism constitutes concerns for Antarctic biodiversity and wilderness values: cumulative impacts are not systematically assessed, there is no systematic monitoring in Antarctica, and there are only few regulatory restrictions in place regarding total visitor numbers and the spatial distribution of tourism. In light of these concerns, this program aims to generate new knowledge for policy makers and the tourist sector to minimise cumulative impacts on Antarctic biodiversity and wilderness values.

More specifically, this program will develop:
i. a forecast of Antarctic tourism development, focused on growth and spatial distribution;
ii. knowledge and maps of the geographical distribution of Antarctica’s biodiversity and wilderness values, differentiating between the current state and expectations with changing climate and human activity;
iii. an inventory of (risks of) cumulative impacts of tourism visitation by comparing the tourism forecast (ad i) and the spatial distribution of biodiversity and wilderness values (ad ii);
iv. a monitoring framework for measuring changes in biodiversity and wilderness values, and
v. an identification of strategies and regulatory tools to prevent or minimise future cumulative impacts on Antarctica’s biodiversity and wilderness values.

This knowledge will be produced through intensive cooperation between experts in polar ecology, climate change, geographical mapping, tourism management and law, and with close involvement of key consortium partners and stakeholders. Different forms of cooperation aim at improving Antarctic governance in general and the regulation and management of Antarctic tourism in particular, to ensure positive contributions toward minimising cumulative impacts on, and thereby providing more effective protection to, Antarctic biodiversity and wilderness values.
Short titleAntarctic Tourism
StatusNot started


  • Antarctica
  • Tourism
  • Sustainable management
  • Wilderness
  • Biodiversity