Tourism is arguably the most accessible theme across the blue economy spectrum. Perhaps it’s almost too obvious when considered against deep ocean exploration, mineral extraction, fishing in the open ocean and a host of other themes and industries that seem somehow more mysterious and commercial but marine and coastal tourism accounts for 26% of the blue economy, making it the joint second largest ocean industry. Only the oil and gas sector is considered to have higher economic value in the ocean domain.
Naturally any activity that entices large numbers of people to one area carries with it concerns for the preservation of its geography as well as the local population. One may weigh in the balance the financial benefits of a tourism industry whilst mulling over the potential for their cultures and customs to be eroded by the desire of ‘outsiders’ to engage and observe. In more extreme instances visitors have significant impact purchasing local properties, land and introducing tourism developments.
This week JT has joined the independent, international foreign policy think-tank Polar Research and Policy Initiative (PRPI) for their second workshop in a series exploring Sustainable Tourism Development in the Nordic Arctic, this time held in Iceland. This series is of workshops co-delivered and developed with the University of Southern Denmark, is concerned with the need to establish and maintain healthy tourism industries that acknowledge and respect the role of indigenous people and the environment. The symbiotic relationship between all three aligns well to our own NLA International blue economy mission.
Iceland faces the same challenges as so many tourism destinations. The very assets that attract tourists feel the impact of the tourists they attract. So how does Iceland protect and sustain these assets at the same time as continuing to provide a warm welcome to over two million foreign visitors a year and the safeguard the 376.6 billion Icelandic Krona (£2.42 billion) tourism revenue a year that they generate?
Dr. Dwayne Ryan Menezes, Founder and Managing Director of PRPI, believes that a lot can be achieved through the engagement of a diverse stakeholder group. “The Nordic Arctic Tourism Workshop series has deliberately sought input from universities, government organisations, businesses, and local people with the specific purpose of generating debate, transposing understanding and sharing a variety of perspectives.” Reflecting on the week he told NLA “we’re delighted that this workshop has generated ideas and projects that will help to address sustainable tourism challenges in Iceland, the Nordic Arctic Region and beyond. It has been particularly useful to raise the debate to include a number of Ministers of the Icelandic Parliament.”
For more information about the workshop series please visit the PRPI website. We’ll be sharing workshop findings and the video documentary via the NLA website and via our usual channels on LinkedIn and Twitter.
We would like to thank the many contributors who organised and engaged in this immersive workshop. It’s been an insightful and thought provoking activity providing useful food for thought on a key blue economy sector.