Dagmar Hagen, Senior Research Scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research. Photo Ole Magnus Rapp

Experts from the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) are conducting inspections of Fuglehuken and Sallyhamna, two sites in Svalbard that are expected to receive an increasing number of cruise tourists, according to a statement from the group.

The purpose of the inspection is to develop guidelines that allow cruise passengers to visit the sites without disturbing their nature and cultural remains.

The expedition cruise industry, represented by AECO, has been working with authorities in Svalbard to ensure that visits to sites are well regulated, according to a statement.

A central tool in this process are site specific guidelines that map and describe individual sites. The guidelines give advice on how tour operators can carry out landings with groups of people while avoiding negative environmental impacts and safety risks.

AECO’s Executive Director Frigg Jørgensen says that the site guidelines constitute an effective management tool for Arctic tourism. “Before these guidelines were established, the authorities in Svalbard were actually considering closing some of these sites to tourism. The guidelines make it possible to regulate visits, and give operators the information they need to make responsible and careful use of these magnificent sites," said Jørgensen.

The site guidelines project is financed by Svalbard’s Environmental Protection Fund and is one of several initiatives to preserve Svalbard’s distinctive wilderness as a basis for experiences, knowledge and value creation. Since 2011, AECO has created guidelines for 20 sites in Svalbard. This summer, experts will inspect and develop guidelines two additional sites on the west coast of Spitsbergen: Fuglehuken and Sallyhamna.

AECO’s site guidelines for Svalbard have served as a model for site guidelines for Russia’s Arctic National Park, and has inspired similar initiatives in Canada, Greenland and Iceland.