Home / Government / Central Government News Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
South Pole to Remain a Lonely Spot
Adjust font size:

If images of cuddly penguins, towering icebergs and the surreal stillness of Antarctica are giving you Happy Feet, hang on!

The government has warned that citizens in search of a cool experience had better keep away from the South Pole, because "China has not approved any kind of tour to the region out of concern for the environment and traveler safety."

"The natural conditions there are harsh and ecologically fragile. China currently is not considering opening up the area for tourists," said a notice published on the website of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) over the weekend. 

The notice quoted officials from the SOA, the National Tourism Administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying that citizens should "think carefully" before signing up for a trip to the Antarctic. Although a trip to the South Pole is not on the normal menu of travel agents in the country, the service is available for intrepid travelers through other countries.

As more Chinese travel overseas, many are seeking out novel destinations and looking for bragging rights. This has led to some travel agencies and organizations trying to cash in by organizing trips to Antarctica. 

Travelers, who can be charged up to a hefty 100,000 yuan (US$12,800) per person, typically fly to Chile or Argentina first, where local agencies take them to the South Pole usually by sea. 

It's unclear how many Chinese have succeeded in visiting the frozen land and many trips have been cancelled for various reasons.

A tour organized by an agency in Zhejiang Province was called off last February because there weren't enough customers. Local media reported that the six who had signed up for the trip changed their minds but didn't say why. Others have undertaken the trip under the cover of "scientific expeditions."

The notice quoted SOA officials as saying that China is currently drafting a regulation on Antarctic tourism.

As China is a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, the notice said, the regulation would be in accordance with the agreement, which bans any activities that may harm the ecology of the area and requires a pre-assessment of every proposed activity. 

Antarctica is attracting a growing number of tourists. It's estimated that about 15,000 people visit the South Pole each year mainly from the Untied States, Australia, New Zealand and European countries. The number is growing at an annual rate of 10 to 15 percent.

On a list of the Top 10 World Travel Destinations announced early this month by iExplore, a leading website for adventure travel, Antarctica has jumped from last year's 19th to second.

(China Daily January 23, 2007)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Chinese Tourists to Visit the South Pole
- China Discourages Travel to South Pole
Most Viewed >>
Questions and Answers More
Q: What kind of law is there in place to protect pandas?
A: In order to put the protection of giant pandas and other wildlife under the law, the Chinese government put the protection of rare animals and plants into the Constitution.
Useful Info
- Who's Who in China's Leadership
- State Structure
- China's Political System
- China's Legislative System
- China's Judicial System
- Mapping out 11th Five-Year Guidelines
- Chinese Embassies
- International Department, Central Committee of CPC
- State Organs Work Committee of CPC
- United Front Work Department, Central Committee of CPC