Oslo, Norway - WWF has awarded its prestigious WWF Arctic Award for Linking Tourism and Conservation 2002, and 10,000 Swiss francs, to Svalbard Villmarkssenter, Svalbard, Norway. Svalbard Villmarkssenter, based in Longyearbyen, Svalbard is a small, family-run business based around dogsledding and hiking trips. The company, run by husband and wife team Karl and Berit Hole Vatvik, are active campaigners for conservation: for the last ten years they have campaigned for non-motorised tourism in Svalbard in response to the increased use of snow-mobiles by other tour operators. They have also opposed plans to build a road to link two mining communities on Svalbard. The road, which would have ruined Reindalen, a beautiful and biologically-rich valley, is now set to become a protected area within the next year. Samantha Smith, director of WWF’s Arctic Programme, said: “We are delighted to award our 2002 Arctic Award to Svalbard Villmarkssenter. They are an excellent example of how tourism can work in harmony with conservation. They serve locally produced food, use hand made sleds, tents and clothes, are committed to recycling, and work hard to share the local culture as much as local nature with their guests. They show that with commitment and hard work, small businesses can survive in a larger commercial setting and stake out the path for future sustainable tourism.” The runner-up prize for the 2002 WWF Arctic Award goes to Canoe Arctic Inc, from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, Canada. Canoe Arctic Inc. is a one-person tourism business founded in 1974 by biologist and campaigning conservationist Alex Hall, who offers guided canoe trips across the uninhabited regions of the Barren Lands of Canada’s Northwest Territories (NWT) and Nunavut Territory. Previous winners of the Arctic Award were Alaska Wildland Adventures from Alaska in 2001, Lappland Safari from Finland in 2000, and Arctic Treks from Alaska in 1999. The award was established in 1999 by WWF’s International Arctic Programme to reward Arctic tourism with an outstanding commitment to conservation. The Award has been made possible through the sponsorship of Heidi Andersson, a former vice president of the board of trustees of WWF-Finland. For further information: Samantha Smith WWF Arctic Programme Tel: +47 45 02 21 49 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Julian Woolford WWF Arctic Programme Tel: +47 93 00 64 47 E-mail: email@example.com Note to editors WWF’s work on ecotourism in the Arctic WWF has worked on tourism in the Arctic since 1995. WWF’s work on Arctic tourism is based on the idea that tourism industry and conservation interests share a common goal: preserving the Arctic environment that, with arctic cultures, is the basis for tourism in the region.