Although data on the specific number of travelers to Antarctica was unavailable, China is expected to be the second-largest source of tourists there this year behind the U.S. In January alone, some 2,000 tourists from Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong visited the region.
One such tourist was Ms. Lin, who works in Shanghai’s securities sector. She signed up for a 14-day Antarctic Peninsula cruise over the holiday. “As I am still young, I have limited savings so I booked the cheapest four-person berth and flight to Argentina, costing me roughly CNY80, 000 (USD12,615) in total,” she said. Many people can now afford to realize their dream of visiting Antarctica, Lin added.
Mrs. He from Beijing chose Antarctica as the destination for her honeymoon. “My husband and I booked the trip directly with the cruise firm ten months in advance. As we are relatively young, we prefer cruises staffed by expedition leaders in the hope that we could enjoy more time on-land in Antarctica doing outdoor activities,” she said.
The Argentine resort town of Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of South America, has become a key transit stop for those traveling to Antarctica. Despite the influx of tourists from China, few of them are choosing to shop at duty-free and luxury shops in the city as is typically the case, instead they directly descend on the local tourist information office to plan trips to the nearby national park.
Tourism from China to Antarctica has expanded significantly over the last ten years. Some 3,944 Chinese travelers went to Antarctica in 2016, up from less than 100 in 2008.