As sea ice has declined as much as 40% since satellite observation began in 1979, Arctic tourism has
been increasing dramatically. Due to the harsh winter climates in the Arctic, tourism is currently
only feasible during the summer months. During these months, visitors can explore endless days and a
long list of outdoor activities. Nature based activities are most popular for international travelers.
Visitors engage in self-guided tours, ship cruises, and eco-tours.
There is a wide range of activities for individuals to explore the spectacular landscapes and wildlife— skiing,
kayaking, diving, dog-sledding, mountaineering, boating. While the increase in tourism will increase revenues
to local Arctic economies, the dramatic increases of these activities may also cause some negative externalities
to these pristine environments. With increased use we will see increases in development of infrastructure, increased
pollution and waste, and harm to ecosystems.
Many organizations such as the Sustainable Arctic Tourism Association, the Arctic Council,
and conservation groups are working to urge both governments and the tourism industry to insure that these touristic activities take into account
the already fragile ecosystems of the Arctic in order to best protect it.