AECO’s involvement in research

Cooperating with AECO

AECO has extensive involvement in relevant research projects. Relevant research areas include Arctic tourism, shipping, environmental issues, wildlife conservation, economic and social aspects of Arctic tourism, ice and meteorology services, preparedness and search and rescue.

Are you looking to cooperate with AECO in a research project? AECO is eager to collaborate with scientists on relevant research. Due to limited capacity, AECO prioritizes research project that are deemed relevant and can contribute to the management of responsible, environmentally friendly and safe tourism in the Arctic. We encourage researchers to reach out to AECO at an early stage to take advantage of AECO’s perspectives and expertise when shaping the research proposal. AECO will also prioritize projects that budget for covering some of the costs of AECO’s contribution such as travel costs and work hours. AECO is a non-governmental organization (not-for-profit) registered in Norway. Please contact us at aeco (a) if you would like to propose a collaboration on a research project.

Optimal Balance Project 

AECO, in collaboration with Visit Svalbard and Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), have initiated the Optimal Balance Project, an interdisciplinary collaboration identify relevant research needs to find the optimal balance in future tourism development in Svalbard.

After applying for funding to survey cruise operators` spending in Longyearbyen, AECO and Visit Svalbard were encouraged to enter into collaboration with the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), who had applied for funding for a related project aimed at surveying impacts of tourism in Svalbard. The three partners went into collaboration in “Optimal balance” a project with three main objectives:

  1. Survey cruise tourism economic value in Svalbard (AECO and Visit Svalbard)
  2. Desk study of available relevant research on tourism impact in polar areas (NINA)
  3. Organize a workshop to identify relevant research needs to find the optimal balance in future tourism development in Svalbard (Visit Svalbard, AECO and NINA).

Economic value of cruise tourism

The first deliverable was a survey of the economic impact of expedition and conventional cruise tourism in Svalbard carried out by Epinion and published September 2019. The study shows that expedition and conventional cruise ships made a substantial contribution to the local economy by purchasing goods and services for more than NOK 110 million (USD 12 million) last year. Another finding was that expedition cruises have an average economic contribution of 4,235 NOK (USD 474) per passenger, while conventional cruises have an economic contribution of 810 NOK (USD 90) per passenger. The economic contribution per expedition cruise passenger is 5,2 times larger than that of conventional cruise passengers. The survey is available here.

Optimal Tourism Balance workshop

The Optimal Tourism Balance workshop took place in Longyearbyen September 11-13, 2019. The goal of the workshop was to discuss, define and pitch research projects that can help Svalbard find the optimal tourist balance in tourist development. Over 50 participants attended the interactive workshop. Among participants were researchers within the fields of social science, economics, natural sciences, business, tourism, Arctic issues and preparedness. Representatives from research funding institutions and those working in tourism we also present.

Optimal Balance Report

The findings from the Optimal Tourism Balance workshop are outlined in the Optimal Balance Report, which was issued on January 9, 2020.

A summary of research needs identified in the report can be found here.

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