What is Extreme Tourism?
Extreme tourism is an offshoot of mainstream tourism that involves the tourist going to areas with a hazardous landscape combined with a dangerous climate or remote areas that are either sparsely populated or not populated at all. More and more people are taking part in activities like rock climbing, white-water rafting, paragliding and more.
Who Takes Part?
More often than not, the typical adventure tourist will be 30 years old, unmarried person and have no children. Due to the expensive nature of these holidays, those taking part will most likely be in high power jobs, which would allow them to earn a high income. Most people will come in small groups but there are a few wealthy individuals who go by themselves. As very few people go on these types of holidays, the sector will never be as large as other tourism sectors like eco-tourism.
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What are the Attractions?
The most popular areas for extreme tourism are Peru, Chile, Argentina, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. These areas boast difficult landscapes, hard climates and even unstable political situations. A notable example of this would be the mountainous regions of north Pakistan. They are often described as some of the most difficult landscapes in the world and, as mentioned earlier, some feel that the risky political situation (as it is near an Al Qaeda base) adds an extra thrill. Other more mainstream attractions include desert trekking, canoeing in areas like the Amazon and hiking in the Himalayas.
What Activities are there?
Most of the activities available in Antarctica are based around the unique climate and wildlife present there. The activities vary from sporting activities such as skiing and hiking expeditions, to viewing the native wildlife like whales and penguins. Activities like living with the Emperor Penguins are very popular among tourists as you aren't required to be very physically fit and it can be very touching to be around them. Other activities like skiing across large distances or hiking up mountains like Mount Vincent are a lot more demanding physically and as such fewer people go on these expeditions, yet they are still quite popular due to the thrill achieved by taking part in these dangerous activities.
How has the Number of Tourists going to Antarctica Changed?
Tourism in the Antarctic regions started in the late 1950’s (approximately 1958), half a century after Amundsen and his team first arrived at the South Pole. At this time the numbers of people visiting the area were very low, a stark contrast with the numbers of tourists arriving today which is somewhere around 28,000 people per year. The number of people visiting is only expected to go up as more activities are made and marketing of the area increases.
What are the Impacts of Tourism?
While those in charge of the tours do their best to ensure that any impacts caused by the tourists are minimal or don't even happen, it is nigh impossible for them to remove the risk altogether. As a result, there are impacts caused by the tourists and the extent of some of them can be quite considerate. The most obvious impact brought on by tourists is the disturbance of the native wildlife such as the emperor penguins. Human interaction with these animals can cause major effects such as a change in migration patterns leading to further effects in the ecosystem as a whole. Impacts can come in other means as well. The sinking of the MS Explorer showed that access to the area needed to be restricted and lead to fuel spilling in the water, doing untold damage to the marine life.
How have the Impacts been managed?
All tour operators, of which there are more than 100, are members of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and are urged to be environmentally friendly in their practices and are asked to convince tourists to be as well. In order to preserve more delicate areas, there are certain Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s) which tourists are not allowed to visit so that the wildlife and inhabitants are protected. Anyone wishing to take part in activities on the island must have a permit and are banned from leaving any waste/litter behind and being closer than 5m to an animal. Any ships going to the area is limited in the amount of passengers it can have (500 max of which only 100 can disembark at once).