Allan Little looks at the growing tourism industry above the Arctic circle which is raising complex social, economic and environmental consequences for remote communities.

On the one hand, there are sustainable, indigenous-operated businesses that benefit from increasing numbers of visitors in search of authentic reindeer experiences and the Northern Lights, but other regions are experiencing the problem of mass tourism. On the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, we see how the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of a seasonal tourism-based economy, as operators now fight for survival.

Paradoxically, tourists are often drawn north to witness the Arctic before it melts, while their carbon footprint is only adding to the problem. We meet several tourism businesses providing greener, more sustainable alternatives, including the world’s first hybrid-electric whale watching vessel.

Producer: Victoria Ferran

(Photo credit:: Victoria Ferran)

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