Antarctic Tourism and the Maritime Heritage
26 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2010
Date Written: September 2008
Maritime activity in the Antarctic region goes back to the 18th Century. It evolved from exploration and discoveries to commercial activities, especially sealing and whaling. Antarctic tourism is a more recent phenomenon, developing gradually from the 1960s. Today, more than 20.000 tourists visit the Antarctic annually – mostly on cruise ships. The paper reviews the historical development of these activities. The main focus is on how the maritime heritage has been dealt with and interpreted by the tourists themselves and the tourist industry. One aspect of the analysis is to show how the maritime heritage has been related to the other main attractions of the Antarctic tourist like the natural sceneries, the abundant wildlife and the pristine environment. Given the historic over-exploitation of seals and whales there is a potential conflict between these different aspects of the Antarctic heritage. The analysis will also focus on the possible ambiguity in how the maritime heritage itself has been interpreted. On the one hand, it was about brave adventurers and polar explorers, on the other hand, it was about resource exploitation and commercial activities that are controversial among most Antarctic tourists today.
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