Antarctic adventures are becoming popular among China’s affluent

Though there are no luxury resorts near the South Pole, it is proving to be a popular destination among China’s affluent. Source : Jo Crebbin / Shutterstock

AN estimated 550 million Chinese citizens are predicated to fit into the upper-middle class category by 2022, meaning 54 percent of China’s urban households will be earning between US$16,000 and $34,000 per year. This will ultimately push the consumer economy to increase to an estimated $6.5 trillion.

But as the middle class grows in China, those who are already considered affluent are looking for more exciting ways to spend their income. One of the more adventurous ways of splashing their cash is by traveling to the North and South Poles.

While warm climates and iconic cities still feature high on the list of popular destinations for Chinese tourists, the Poles set a whole new precedent for affluent travelers, who are looking for adventure with an added dose of luxury.

“I like to travel to places where there aren’t many tourists,” Gemmy Zang, a freelance graphic designer who went a 2014 Antarctic cruise, told the Financial Times. “I expected it would be tough, but it wasn’t at all.”

This year, China preceded Australia as the second largest source of travelers to Antarctica. According to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, Chinese travelers accounted for 12 percent of the 46,000 total visitors to the continent.

Many of the affluent Chinese travelers who are visiting the plains of Antarctica have already traveled to previously appealing cities like Paris, London and Rome.

“It’s no longer enough to go to the Eiffel Tower again. There’s not much to say about it the second time” Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of Hurun Report, told the Financial Times.

The best time to visit the South Pole is between December and February, when it is summer. Many Chinese tourists are aware of this and have booked to travel there in February 2018 to participate in the Spring Festival holiday.

Plenty of travel companies are getting on board with this new Antarctic hype too.

Ctrip, the China-based, one-stop, multilingual, hassle-free travel agency has set up around 100 new South Pole focused itineraries, including direct flights, concerts, luxury cruises and even the option to charter your own boat out to the southernmost point on the globe.

Although these trips aren’t cheap, with an average South Pole visit coming in at around $16,000 per person, it is pretty unique to be able to say you’ve walked around the world in a few steps – which is essentially possible at the Poles.