Polar getaway for smog-weary rich Chinese Saibal Dasgupta BEIJING: China's wealthy are making a beeline for the Antarctic. The country's rich families are traveling and even buying houses in New Zealand, Australia and Spain because they want to get away from heavy smog and pollution in Chinese cities. Tour operators are charging between $50,000 and $80,000 per person for such trips and took an estimated 3,000 Chinese tourists to the southern polar region in 2013. The number is expected to grow at least 40% this year, tour agencies say. But these trips are causing anxiety among environmentalists who say that marine ships cause sea pollution while tour groups often frighten the birds. Tourists are known to smoke and leave behind food crumbs. Chinese tour operators claim their customers follow regulations and respect the wildlife and environment. Many of the travelers are drawn by Chinese icebreaker Xue Long which recently carried out a rescue mission for stranded scientists from other countries. "It's a dream for our whole family. The penguins, the snow, and the glaciers - it's all so beautiful. There's no noise. I could feel myself and my spirit," China Central Television quoted one of the travelers, Song Xiao'ai, as saying. The Spring Festival holidays which has just ended saw a 30% increase in Chinese travelers in the UK, the U.S. and Australia as compared to the same period last year. Chinese tourists are known to particularly seek out pollution free locations with clear blue skies because they are tired by the environmental situation at home, tour operators said. "Compared with last year the number of Chinese visitors rose by 30% during Spring Festival," said Kevin Shao of Omega Travel, one of the UK's leading travel. Polar getaway for smog-weary rich Chinese - The Times of India *********************************** One has heard about the high pollution that plagues China, but this indicates that the situation is real serious. This is a hardship that I am sure, the remainder Chinese wilfully and maybe cheerfully bears since they are very patriotic about the modernisation leading to a better financially endowed life that gives them the freedom of binge shopping and surrounding themselves with creature comforts.