The project is carried out in cooperation with Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, Faroese and Islandic partners.

The lead, Associate Professor Chris Hobel, explains the project:

The purpose of the project is to analyze the effects of the currently combining economic and societal shifts in two important Arctic industries – tourism and the extraction of living marine resources. These shifts present opportunities and challenges to sustainable economic development in the Nordic Arctic, and may initiate from a variety of sources. In tourism, they include increased accessibility and interest in tourism worldwide; increased “large” and “small” scale activities, e.g. cruises and fishing trips; increases in interest in exotic/extreme locations and ‘last-chance’ tourism; and expansion in infrastructure available to access locations. In marine resource extractive industries, they include increased management of living marine resources for long term sustainability; product differentiation for marine resource products; and restrictions to markets. We investigate not only the relative roles of these various global industrial shifts, but especially consider the particular challenges to tourism development in the Arctic. These challenges include hard but uncertain limits to seasonality, frequent difficulties with capacity and supply routes as well as opportunities for extractive and non-extractive marine wildlife use.

Through a series of exploratory workshops, we seek to understand how best to approach sustainable tourism in the Nordic Arctic in order to increase social welfare for the inhabitants of the region and for the consumers of these tourism outputs. The first workshop on Sustainable Tourism Development in the Nordic Arctic has taken place from April 26-30, 2018 in Honningsvåg, Finnmark, Norway and aboard Hurtigruten. Presentations, dialogue and local experiences just outside of the standard tourism season were arranged to facilitate connections and interaction between sustainable tourism development research and practice.

From the discussions among the 17 participating researchers a first short-list of topics to form a common research agenda evolved. These include: the potential of CSR in Arctic industries to connect with Arctic tourism and imaging; the role of food resources in balancing interests and needs in Arctic tourism; the importance of the decline in costs of film and photos in the tourism experience; the balance between management of the marine resource for direct consumption, wildlife viewing, and/or conservation; the treatment of the Red King Crab as a resource base in tourism; and the role of export rules for fish for recreational fishing tourism.

Immediately following the first workshop some of the results were disseminated in a high-level dialogue on the role of sustainable marine Arctic tourism development in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals that was hosted together with the Polar Research and Policy Initiative at The Arctic University of Norway, UiT in Tromsø.

The second workshop of the series will take place in March 2019 in Iceland and focus on ‘Tourism capacity and sustainable development’. The discussions of the topics from the first workshop will be further carried on, especially those outlined for the research agenda.

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