Around 5,000 Chinese predicted to visit Antarctica this year, second in numbers only to U.S.
The number of Chinese tourists visiting Antarctica is expected to reach 5,000 this year, with the country predicted to become second only to the US as a source of travelers to the remote southern continent.
The number of Chinese visiting Antarctica annually is 40 times greater today than it was 10 years ago; going up from 99 in the 2005-2006 season to around 4,100 in the 2015-2016 season, the Singapore-based Lianhe Zaobao newspaper estimated Tuesday.
Experts predict this growth will continue as both the disposable income of Chinese nationals and their interest in polar tourism are still getting larger, Lianhe Zaobao reported Tuesday.
"The pure beauty of Antarctica's glaciers touched me and made me care more about protecting the environment," Zhang Jian, a Chinese traveler who visited Antarctica in 2010, was quoted as saying by Lianhe Zaobao.
Zhang and her husband spent 150,000 yuan ($21,750) on their trip, which Zhang says accounts for half their annual income.
Antarctica travel packages cost from 70,000 to 160,000 yuan and often include a close look at penguins and whales, as well as activities like camping and hiking.
"Antarctica is no longer unreachable for ordinary Chinese especially those living in first-tier cities and the number of Chinese visitors will keep growing," Liu Hongli, professor at Capital Normal University's College of Resources Environment and Tourism, was quoted as saying by Lianhe Zaobao.
According to data released by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, more than 38,000 visitors from all around the world visited Antarctica from November 2015 to March 2016.
Peak tourism season in the region is between November and March, when temperatures are relatively higher than at other times of year.