BEIJING -- China on Friday said it would regulate tourist trips to Antarctica to protect the fragile ecology.
According to a guideline issued by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), the hunting of wild animals, construction, entry into special conservation areas, collection of soil and rock samples, and bringing in hazardous materials will be banned.
Tourists are supposed to take all solid waste away with them when they leave Antarctica or have it burned at designated facilities and take away the remains, according to the guideline.
Violators should clear up any damage they cause and bear the cost of environmental restoration.
China has witnessed a tourism boom to Antarctica. In 2017, the number of Chinese tourists to the continent grew to 5,300, from barely 100 in 2005. China is now ranked the second as a tourist source for Antarctica, after the United States.
Chinese tourists are usually sent to a third country before joining Antarctica trips organized by foreign travel agencies.
Antarctic travel is driving domestic tourism and related industries forward but remains insufficient in regulations, according to tourism experts.
China's Great Wall research station on the continent is the most popular destination for domestic tourists.
The station, with only 30 staff, receives more than 2,000 Chinese tourists each summer and is faced with mounting pressure to perform its regular tasks, and maintain its safety and environment.
Visitors should have permissions from the SOA before going to the research station, and they need to inform the station 24 to 72 hours ahead of arrival. The station can cancel or adjust tourist visits according to its schedule, the guideline said.
The guideline also requires people to gain approval from the SOA before collecting samples from Antarctica for scientific research.