Cape Town as Africa's gateway for tourism to Antarctica - development potential and need for regulation

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Peer-Reviewed Research
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  • Abstract:

    Cape Town is one of the five Antarctic gateway cities from which ships and aircraft travel to and from various parts of Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. Gateway cities are used by government scientific expeditions, as well as for tourism. While tourism to Antarctica is increasing rapidly, most of it occurs from the South American gateways of Ushuaia and Punta Arenas, and to a lesser extent from Christchurch (New Zealand) and Hobart (Australia). The Cape Town-Antarctica tourism industry is relatively undeveloped in comparison to other gateway cities, mainly because the distance to Antarctica from the South American gateways is considerably less than from Cape Town. In 2009 the City of Cape Town signed the Southern Rim Gateway Cities Agreement, joining the other gateway cities in an agreement to cooperate on issues such as science, education, logistics, business opportunities and tourism. Tourism to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, and the regulation thereof, is discussed in the light of the fact that South Africa, unlike countries like Australia, does not have any specific policy to develop or regulate tourism to Antarctica, neither to its own bases, nor to other parts of Antarctica accessible from Cape Town by ship or air. This paper considers the development potential of Cape Town as a gateway for tourism to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, with recommendations for particular types of tourism development, in specific locations, and suggestions for both growing and regulating the industry.