Tourism and Arctic observation systems: exploring the relationships

Author: de la Barre, S.; Maher, Pat T.; Dawson, J.; Hillmer-Pegram, K.; Huijbens, E.; Lamers, M.; Liggett, D.; Müller, D.; Pashkevich, A.; Stewart, Emma

Publisher: Taylor & Francis on behalf of the Norsk Polarinstitutt and Co-Action Publishing

Type: Journal article

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Lincoln University


The Arctic is affected by global environmental change and also by diverse interests from many economic sectors and industries. Over the last decade, various actors have attempted to explore the options for setting up integrated and comprehensive trans-boundary systems for monitoring and observing these impacts. These Arctic Observation Systems (AOS) contribute to the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of environmental change and responsible social and economic development in the Arctic. The aim of this article is to identify the two-way relationship between AOS and tourism. On the one hand, tourism activities account for diverse changes across a broad spectrum of impact fields. On the other hand, due to its multiple and diverse agents and far-reaching activities, tourism is also well-positioned to collect observational data and participate as an actor in monitoring activities. To accomplish our goals, we provide an inventory of tourism-embedded issues and concerns of interest to AOS from a range of destinations in the circumpolar Arctic region, including Alaska, Arctic Canada, Iceland, Svalbard, the mainland European Arctic and Russia. The article also draws comparisons with the situation in Antarctica. On the basis of a collective analysis provided by members of the International Polar Tourism Research Network from across the polar regions, we conclude that the potential role for tourism in the development and implementation of AOS is significant and has been overlooked.

Subjects: Arctic, Antarctic, citizen science, observation systems, tourism, IPTRN, Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences

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