Commercial, shipborne tourism along the Antarctic Peninsula grew exponentially between 1989–90 and 2007–08, raising concern about the impact such activity may have on the environment of the region. Previous analyses of Antarctic tourism have focused narrowly on patterns of visitation and potential impacts at terrestrial landing sites. Here, using 19 years of passenger landing statistics and five years of reconstructed ship itineraries, we explore patterns of tourism activities in the Antarctic Peninsula region using a spatially explicit network theory analysis of ship itineraries. We find that passenger landings and marine traffic are highly concentrated at a few specific locations and that growth in tourism activity occurred disproportionally rapidly at these sites relative to growth in visitation of the Peninsula as a whole. We conclude by discussing the pros and cons of spatially concentrated tourism activity and the associated implications for ecosystem management.
(Received July 24 2009)
(Accepted September 22 2009)
(Online publication November 17 2009)