UAA Arctic adventures: A university model for engaging in place-based sustainable tourism

Theme 4. Education
Session Name 4.4 Arctic tourism: A tool for education and a topic for educational collaboration
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Audrey Taylor (University of Alaska Anchorage, USA), Timothy Miller (University of Alaska Anchorage, USA), Herminia Din (University of Alaska Anchorage, USA)
Abstract text

Traditionally, education via the tourism platform is delivered by tour operators, and universities teach or conduct research on tourism from a detached perspective. However, the sensitivity of the Arctic environment and the speed with which it is changing dictates that northern universities should become involved in the processes of knowledge transfer, raising public awareness, and encouraging stewardship of the Arctic, and tourism is a possible mechanism for this effort.


An interdisciplinary team at UAA has developed a business model approach for marketing designed ecotourism modules to professional guides and tour owner/operators who will eventually lead tours of their own within Alaska or the Arctic. Our goal is to provide tourism “packages” that raise awareness of the changing Arctic and encourage stewardship behavior on the part of participants. We see this goal being most effectively realized through a “train the trainer” approach, where we provide package options to tour operators who can then deliver these to tourists as add-ons to their existing offerings. Our start-up is developing and evaluating custom packages that comprise a combination of locally popular recreational activities (snow biking, skiing, dog sledding in the winter; sea kayaking, hiking, rafting, camping in the summer) with creation of place-based art and engagement in citizen science-based data collection. These model packages will ultimately be offered as for-credit classes through the university for tourism industry professionals. We will report on our first several trips completed using this model and discuss the benefits and challenges we have encountered along the way.

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