|Vavilov at anchor in South Georgia|
The annual Tourism and Visitor report for the 2008/9 season shows that despite more tour ships than ever visiting South Georgia Island last season, overall cruise passenger numbers fell slightly.
According to the South Georgia Newsletter, July release, twenty eight ships (three new to South Georgia), made 70 visits to the Island and brought 7,700 passengers between October 2008 and May 2009. This was six more visits, but about 400 fewer passengers, than the previous season.
The difference between seasons was largely explained by there being 25% fewer larger ships; those with 150 passengers or more. Just over 5000 crew and nearly 800 staff also visited in 2008/9.
Most of the ships visiting bring 50-100 passengers each time. The smaller vessels (50 - 150 passengers) tend to spend more time at South Georgia and visit more sites than the larger ships.
Passengers came from a total of 55 different countries, but the majority (65%), were from English speaking countries: 28% from the USA; 24% from the UK and 13% Germans.
The most popular visitor sites (top down) were Grytviken, Gold Harbour, Salisbury Plain, Stromness, St Andrews and Prion Island.
The popularity of extended walks (any walk of more than 1km from the landing site) continues to rise. The most popular of these is the Shackleton walk from Fortuna Bay to Stromness, which was completed 35 times (up 29%), by a total of 1,486 passengers, a 36% increase in number of people making this walk.
Kayaking was also an increasingly popular activity. Six cruises were offering this as an option. Kayaks were launched sixteen times in six different locations with 268 people setting out for a paddle.
Twenty-five yacht visits were also made by 22 different yachts. Most of these (13) were on private journeys, but seven were under charter, one was supporting an expedition, and two were supporting Government related projects.
Twelve expeditions were logged: seven were scientific expeditions or had a science element; three were mountaineering; there was one youth group; one photography expedition; one historical expedition and one concentrating on habitat restoration.
Three science ships and six military ships also visited during the year.