Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten has announced that it welcomes the decision by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) to increase the guidelines protecting the environment.
AECO, which will be increasing the amount of guidelines from nine to 21 in 2013, sent a delegation of experts – including botanists, archaeologists, biologists and other tourism experts – to East Svalbard Nature Reserves, an area in which Hurtigruten frequently operates. The ambition of the visit was to establish methods for ensuring environmentally friendly interactions with the eco-system for AECO members.
The project is funded by the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund – something which all Hurtigruten passengers contribute to through a fee incorporated into their airfare.
“We welcome these new guidelines with open arms,” said Jørn Henriksen environmental manager at Hurtigruten. “We understand that we have a responsibility to be respectful of the waters and destinations we sail and to protect them to ensure they stay open to tourists. It is encouraging to see that specific areas of the eastern archipelago are now being studied by external scientific experts to ensure that we safeguard the area so people can continue to experience it. Our guests really like the fact that they help towards this by paying a small environmental fee as it’s their way of giving something back.”
Hurtigruten currently operates three itineraries in Spitsbergen and has frequently announced that it is dedicated to securing the future of the environment.
“We want to support our members in every way possible and make it as easy for them as possible to operate safely and responsibly,” added Frigg Jorgensen general secretary of AECO. “We carried out extensive research in 2012 on a wider area of Spitsbergen which has resulted in AECO more than doubling its guidelines.”