AECO Community Engagement Program

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) has for many years been dedicated to managing responsible, environmentally friendly and safe tourism in the Arctic with respect and consideration for local people, communities and cultural heritage.

Through our Community Engagement Program, we target the task in an innovative and collaborative manner engaging communities, stakeholders, visitors and tourist operators across the Arctic, -ensuring that expedition cruise tourism in the Arctic is carried out in partnership and dialogue with local stakeholders. This emphasis ensures that measures, considerations and mutual benefits, meet objectives a of sustainable expedition cruise development, as well as ensuring that community perspectives are considered in cruise management strategies.

AECO’s Community Specific Guidelines

AECO’s Template for Development of Community Specific Guidelines is a tool used by Arctic communities to create guidelines specific to their own community. These guidelines are initiated and made locally by the communities – hereby meeting their perceptions of how they wish to present themselves and what considerations one should take as a guest and operator. 

Go to page: Community Guidelines

Photo: Visit Greenland/Mads Pihl


Education and teaching

One of main tasks of the Community Engagement Program is supporting community interest in competency development and training and supporting regional training programs. A current initiative is Nalunaiqsijiit 2020: the Inuit Cruise Training Initiative which both support and contribute to. This holistic training program organized by the Government of Nunavut is designed to increase Inuit employment on expedition cruise vessels with itineraries in Nunavut. Teaching at  Kampus Kujalleq (Greenland Tourism Education) also meets our objectives, contributing with our experiences within best practices, community engagement and sustainable tourism.


Working on the local level

A key area of focus of the Community Engagement Program is to establish a greater connection to those at the community level, to ensure we do not rely on dialogue with regional stakeholders alone but include the perspectives of those on the front lines of expedition tourism. By doing so measures, considerations and mutual benefits, meet objectives of sustainable development and operations, as well as safeguarding that community perspectives are considered in cruise management strategies. AECO hopes to be able to continue to expand our network, and to provide as much support as possible to those committed to this goal.

Sharing of best practices

AECO is working to collect, systematize and share best practices to contribute to a holistic and sustainable development within community engagement and tourism management. Results of this work will be published in due time.

Local idea, initiative or project

Do you have any local ideas, initiatives or projects that can contribute to our objective of ensuring dialogue and collaboration between your community and our members, please contact us! 


What can community engagement look like?

In this webinar field staff, guides, trainees and expedition leaders discuss and explore into the many possibilities, resources, and valuable contributions that community engagement brings.

Curious about what community engagement is? Check out this animated video to learn what community engagement means to some Arctic expedition cruise operators and community members, and what it can look like in practice.