The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) is an international association for expedition cruise operators operating in the Arctic and others with interests in this industry.
The association was founded in 2003 and has since become an important organization representing the concerns and views of Arctic expedition cruise operators. AECO is dedicated to managing responsible, environmentally friendly and safe tourism in the Arctic and strive to set the highest possible operating standards.
The association’s geographical range is considered to encompass the Arctic area north of 60 degrees north latitude. The core areas are Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Greenland, Arctic Canada, the Russian Arctic National Park and Iceland.
OUR OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES
To ensure that expedition cruises and tourism in the Arctic is carried out with the utmost consideration for the vulnerable, natural environment, local cultures and cultural remains, as well as the challenging safety hazards at sea and on land.
To be recognized as the primary organization representing the concerns and views of the expedition cruise tourism companies operating in the Arctic.
To agree upon and encourage the incorporation of specific standards and guidelines of operating expedition cruises in the Arctic.
To encourage the use of the highest qualified guides and staff knowledgeable and experienced in the Arctic environment, it’s natural and human history and contemporary culture.
To stimulate and encourage coordination among expedition cruise operators offering voyages to the Arctic.
To serve as a contact and advisory group to government ministries and agencies responsible for managing and regulating the lands, surrounding marine waters, and human activities in the Arctic
To interact with and maintain an open dialogue with non-governmental organizations interested in the Arctic.
To educate all interested groups and people about the Arctic and its unique environment, culture and natural history.
AECO’s Community Engagement Program is an innovative and collaborative program that engages with communities, stakeholders, visitors and tourist operators across the Arctic. The purpose of the program is to ensure that expedition cruise tourism in the Arctic is carried out in partnership and dialogue with local stakeholders.
AECO is working with UN Environment to combat marine plastic pollution. As part of these efforts, AECO will work to drastically cut back on single-use plastics on Arctic expedition cruise vessels, as well as enhance cruise passengers’ involvement in regular beach cleanups.
General guidelines for travelers visiting the Arctic.
For private yachts and sailboats.
Combating marine plastic pollution.
Guidelines when visiting communities.
Preventing disturbance of Arctic plant life.
Stories from the past.
Information and guidelines for encounters with Arctic wildlife.
Guidelines for protection of the environment.
Mandatory guidelines for tour operators that are members of AECO.
Information and guidelines on selected and specific sites in the Arctic.
Online exams for guides and expedition leaders.