AECO, which is an association for cruise operators in the Arctic, was established ten years ago by expedition cruise operators with voyages in Svalbard.
In 2006 AECO expanded to Jan Mayen and Greenland. Recently the association decided on further expansion, and will now include Arctic Canada and the national park "Russian Arctic" (Franz Josef Land and northern parts of Novaya Zemlya).
This expansion involves that AECO will take initiatives to ensure considerate, environmentally-friendly and safe tourism in these areas, among other things by implementation of guidelines for cruise operators, expedition leader, guides and guests to the Arctic. AECO seeks cooperation with authorizes and other involved in expedition cruise tourism in the Arctic and has a positive dialogue with stakeholders both in Canada and Russia.
"We look forward to continue the positive dialogue og further develop a cooperation in order to safeguard the various interests and aspects of cruise tourism, included environmental protection, safety, local community considerations and industry interests," said Frigg Jørgensen, executive director in AECO.
The decision to expand was taken during AECO’s Annual Meeting and Conference, which found place this October. The conference, which gathered almost 70 Norwegian, Danish, Greenlandic, Russian and Canadian representatives from governments, authorities, researchers and other stakeholders, also gathered a broad representation from the international Arctic expedition cruise industry.
The conference’s broad specter of issues included cruise related updates from the different Arctic geographical areas, status for IMO’s (United Nation’s International Maritime Organization) work on the Polar Code, introduction to new maritime regulations in Greenland, results from a large cruise tourism survey in Canada, plans for tourism development in "Russian Arctic" and the start of a process to consider if operators and/or guides in Svalbard should be subject to authorization-requirements.