Antarc­tica the new ad­ven­ture draw for Chi­nese tourists

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By YANG FEIYUE yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China has over­taken Aus­tralia to be­come the se­cond big­gest source of tourists to the Antarc­tic.

Over the past decade, the num­ber of Chi­nese tourists to the area has surged nearly 40 times and is ex­pected to pass 5,000 this year, ac­count­ing for 12 per­cent of all vis­i­tors to the des­ti­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Antarc­tica Tour Op­er­a­tors.

US tourists top the list and ac­count for one-third of the to­tal vis­i­tors.

Last year, Chi­nese tourists paid roughly 3,900 vis­its to the area.

Antarc­tica is ap­peal­ing for those who are ad­ven­tur­ous, es­pe­cially the rich.

Over 36 per­cent of Chi­nese nou­veau riches with av­er­age wealth of 22 mil­lion yuan ($3.24 mil­lion) plan to travel to the re­gion in the next three years, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese Lux­ury Trav­eler 2017, a re­port jointly pro­duced by the Hu­run Re­search In­sti­tute and the In­ter­na­tional Lux­ury Travel Mar­ket Asia.

Ex­plor­ing nat­u­ral scenery and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­treme liv- ing con­di­tions are what ap­peal most to po­lar trav­el­ers, the re­port says.

“Travel prod­ucts with chal­leng­ing el­e­ments are high­end trav­el­ers’ fa­vorites,” says Guo Ming, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of HH­travel, a lux­ury travel brand un­der China’s largest on­line travel agency Ctrip.

The travel agency says that around 500 rich Chi­nese trav­el­ers will visit Antarc­tica this year, and most of them, be­tween 35 and 50, are in se­nior man­age­ment or busi­ness po­si­tions.

The av­er­age spend­ing by these trav­el­ers is ex­pected at 250,000 yuan.

Typ­i­cally, the best sea­son to visit is be­tween Novem­ber and Fe­bru­ary, which is sum­mer in the re­gion.

Most trav­el­ers take cruises to the re­gion, which mainly fol­low three routes.

The most com­mon one is around the Antarc­tic Penin­sula, the se­cond one cov­ers the Falk­land Is­lands, South Ge­or­gia Is­land and the Antarc­tic Penin­sula, while the last one cuts through the Antarc­tic Circle.

On the trip, vis­i­tors spend most of their time on the ship.

Usu­ally lux­ury or sci­en­tific ex­pe­di­tion ships charge more than 100,000 yuan per pas­sen­ger and of­fer ameni­ties, lec­tures and trips to the South Pole, says Guo.

Cheaper op­tions on cruise ships do not al­low trav­el­ers to set foot on land.

Vis­it­ing the Chi­nese re­search fa­cil­ity in the re­gion is pop­u­lar with Chi­nese vis­i­tors, says Guo.

Now, with the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the Antarc­tic, some travel agen­cies are plan­ning to ex­pand their ser­vices.

“We might even do wed­dings,” says Guo.

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

of Chi­nese tourists visit the Antarc­tic to ex­plore nat­u­ral scenery and ex­pe­ri­ence ex­treme liv­ing con­di­tions.

A grow­ing num­ber

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