Each week, Eye on the Arctic brings you news and views from around the North
When most people think of Arctic economic development, things like resource extraction are usually first to mind. But northern regions and chambers of commerce are increasingly touting tourism as a key economic tool.
It’s seen as an industry that creates jobs for a variety of education levels, promotes small-scale entrepreneurship, reinforces and promotes local cultures, and creates the sustainable development lacking in many of the expensive and hard-to-get-to regions of the North; whether the remote Indigenous communities of Arctic Canada and Greenland, or the villages of Finnish Lapland and northern Russia.
But tourism is far from the benign industry it’s often made out to be.
As Iceland has discovered, mass tourism in the North can have social and environmental impacts as profound as those of the mining or drilling industries.
Yet successive governments did nothing to prepare for any of it. Instead, Instagram and Justin Bieber inadvertently ended up doing most of Iceland’s tourism planning for them.
Now, not everyone is sure they’re happy with the results.
To find out more, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn travelled all over Iceland: along the country’s famed Golden Circle tourist route near Reykjavik, to remote farming settlements in the southwest, and to the dying fishing villages of the Arctic ; to find out who tourism is helping, who it’s hurting and what other circumpolar regions can learn from the Iceland experience.
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Nunavut gears up for increase in Arctic tourism, Radio Canada International
Finland: Airbnb shakes up tourism industry in northern Finland, Yle News
Greenland: Greenland pioneers Arctic tourism & mining, Cryopolitics Blog
Iceland: Arctic tourism in the age of Instagram, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Tourism on the rise in waters around Svalbard, Norway, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Foreign cruise vessels line up for voyages to Franz Josef Land, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Sweden welcomes surge of Chinese visitors, Radio Sweden
United States: Alaska’s cruise industry just keeps getting bigger, Alaska Dispatch News