More than 45 000 tourists have visited the Antarctic since 1957; numbers per year are provided. A brief history of sea and airborne tourism in Antarctica reveals past and current trends. The formation of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators and its role in the self-regulated tourism industry in Antarctica are considered, together with the implications of recently promulgated Antarctic Treaty Recommendation XVI-13. The highest recorded single season presence occurred during the 1991-1992 season when nearly 6500 tourists visited the Antarctic Treaty Area, a number shown to exceed the combined number of scientists and support personnel from all National Antarctic Programmes. The Antarctic Treaty System provides a suitable framework within which to develop measures to protect Antarctica from tourist activity. However, regulations developed must be based on hard data on the size and impact of the industry to be effectively implemented.
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