Tourism is a growing source of economic and social benefits in the North, but when a sparsely populated area experiences exponential growth in tourism in only a few years, the infrastructure, safety issues and area management are often found lacking. Arctic nature is spectacular and a draw for tourists, but it is likewise sensitive and slow to recover from being overrun. Local authorities and land owners frequently find themselves in a flurry of hurried activities attempting to deal with the growing numbers, sometimes resulting in better control and nature protection, but sometimes not.
Core issues include who is responsible for funding necessary actions aimed to control the tourist flow and protect nature. Meanwhile, tourists face various dangers and inconveniences due to lacking infrastructure, such as information, safety measures and toilet facilities.
EFLA organized a breakout session at the 2016 Arctic Circle: Sensitive Northern Destinations: Tourism Management and Tourist Dispersion. In this breakout session, various aspects of these issues were discussed, case studies presented and possible options reviewed, with expert solution case studies from the US and Iceland.