Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 290

  ARCTIC TOURISM: REALITIES & POSSIBILITIES Patrick T. Maher, Hans Gelter, Kevin Hillmer-Pegram, Gestur Hovgaard, John Hull, Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson, Anna Karlsdóttir, Outi Rantala, & Albina Pashkevich This paper addresses human capital in the Arctic in relation to tourism. More specifically, with an ever-increasing number of tourists recognizing the attractiveness of the Arctic, tour companies are increasingly recognizing the opportunities. The media (typically southern media) sells the image, either before or after the tourists arrive, and communities are often left to deal with the repercussions – whether those are social, economic, environmental, or the like. Many of the repercussions are negative; however, even when perceived as positive they can create tensions within small communities and showcase a variety of capacity issues. This paper focuses on the realities and possibilities of tourism in the Arctic. It offers an up-to-date descriptive overview of tourism numbers and valuations. In addition, ‘realities’ also focuses on the current suite of challenges and ‘possibilities’ addresses critical questions that need to be asked as tourism grows. We are in an uncertain age and academic critique of the Arctic tourism phenomenon is growing as quickly as the numbers. This paper is almost fully circumpolar in outlook, written by individuals from those jurisdictions, and aims to intersect with other sectors active in the Arctic. Arctic Tourism – Definitions and Resources Tourism in the Arctic starts at the North Pole and quite literally spreads out in all directions from there. Attractions include charismatic mega fauna such as polar bears and narwhal, the cultural uniqueness of a variety of Indigenous peoples, vast tundra and taiga landscapes, icebergs and glaciers and even a few built facilities of note. One of the critical concerns in understanding Arctic tourism is in recognizing its boundaries. Using a geographical perspective to delineate Arctic tourism, this paper defines the Arctic as: Patrick T. Maher is Associate Professor at Cape Breton University. Hans Gelter is Associate Professor at Luleå University of Technology. Kevin Hillmer-Pegram is a PhD Candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Gestur Hovgaard is Associate Professor at the University of the Faroe Islands. John Hull is Associate Professor at Thompson Rivers University. Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson is Associate Professor at the University of Iceland. Anna Karlsdóttir is Assistant Professor at the University of Iceland. Outi Rantala is Senior Lecturer at the University of Lapland. Albina Pashkevich is Senior Lecturer at Dalarna University.