Is Arctic Tourism a Threat to The Environment?


With the sea ice diminishing day by day due the constant changes in weather, the Arctic Circle has become more of a tourist destination than a place to explore. Earlier, people and explorers who had gone on a tour to the Arctic Circle had either faced death or come back mentally distorted. However, things are changing now. Let us check out the different reason’s why how Arctic tourism a threat to the environment

Threat 1 -A that shows how Arctic tourism a threat to the environmentArctic-Tourism

A report by the National Snow and Ice Data Center states that in the month of December 2017, the Arctic sea ice covered 420,900 square miles smaller area than the average area covered during the period from 1981-2010. And this is a fairly fast melting rate of the Arctic ice.

Greenland and a few Nordic countries have taken the charge of Artic tourism. Another report that has come forward states that while in 1990, cruise passengers (some 7,952 in number) just passed along Iceland. However, by the end of 2016, about a quarter of 1 million people were visiting the country every year – and that’s a huge number.


Arctic tourism a threat to the environment

Threat 2 – The possible threat of oils spill and leaks

If studies are to be believed, the Arctic Circle has forever been subject to extreme weather conditions, making traveling complicated for tourists and seafarers. Due to the high latitude there, the communication and navigational systems also fail to work. In such a case, if there happens to be an oil spill or some sort of leakage, this remote area would completely become devoid of any possible means of communication.

Witnessing the fact that tourism is at a boom in the Arctic Circle, experts have warned that this might bring a catastrophe to the polar region in the near future. If the traffic keeps on increasing every year, then a sewage leak or an oil spill is fairly possible, which would damage the icy environment. This is one of the main reason’s why Arctic tourism a threat to the environment.

A great number of journeys to the Arctic are either conducted without any research about this life-threatening fact or often avoid proper precautionary measures even if some investigation is done. Also, tourists and travelers get blinded by the exotic views, cruise holidays, charming menus, cozy rooms, and a number of other interesting activities.


Threat 3 – Arctic tourism a threat to the environment due to increasing cruse ships and holidays


The cruising industry therefore keeps increasing the size and number of ships to make bigger and better profits. These factors equally point out that Arctic tourism a threat to the environment. Serenity, a Crystal Cruises’ 13-storey cruise traveled to the Northwest Passage in 2016. It carried 600 crew members and 900 guests, who enjoyed watching the glaciers from their private luxury verandas.

Followings suit, many others voyages to the Arctic have been conducted. An all-inclusive trip for 24 days is offered by Abercrombie and Kent, which is a British travel company. The cost for the trip is about $30,995, and another $10,000 for personalized butler services. Quark Expeditions is another cruise that goes even deeper into the Arctic. The prices for the same begin at $28,695, and additional $500 for a hot-air balloon ride over the North Pole.


It’s good that the Arctic has become a great tourism hub since a few years. But these cruises and ships must always keep themselves prepared for the worst. For this reason, Polar Code was introduced in 2016 by the International Maritime Organization. This ensured that the cruise operators were well-equipped to deal with extreme weather conditions and remoteness of the Arctic. As per this code, the cruise ships were prohibited from discarding sewage or any kind of food waste into the sea.

Though this code stands mandatory, its enforcement lays completely in the hands of the 172 member states of IMO. Also, no penalties for noncompliance have been specified yet. A warning issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that the Arctic area is heating at a double pace than the rest of the world. In result to this warning, tourism industry has taken a totally novel concept into practice called “last-chance tourism”.

The practice helps in encouraging people to witness the beautiful landscapes and different species before death knocks at their door. This is an effecting way of getting people to travel on a cruise that they would have otherwise kept postponing. People who’d have thought about taking a cruise to the Arctic Circle in the later years of their life are doing it now because of the rapid changes in the weather conditions.  However, it is a sad truth that frequent visitors to the Arctic might damage the climate there even more.

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