20 Apr 2009

Limiting Antarctic visitors will have negligible effect - tourist company

3:03 pm on 20 April 2009

A New Zealand company that runs tours to Antarctica says an international agreement to restrict tourist activity will make very little difference to the continent's environment.

All 28 signatories to the Antarctic Treaty have promised to stop landings from ships carrying more than 500 passengers and to limit shore visits to no more than 100 people at a time.

Heritage Expeditions says introducing compulsory standards will force industry "cowboys" into line, but he says they are a minority.

Owner Rodney Russ says the International Association of Antarctic Tourism Operators already requires its members to follow a similar code.

Mr Russ predicts the recession will have a greater impact on tourist numbers than regulations.

Antarctic visitor numbers have risen from 6700 in 1992-93 to more than 45,000 last season.