Alaskan tour company wins WWF arctic tourism prizeWWF, the conservation organization, today awarded its prestigious WWF Arctic Award for Linking Tourism and Conservation 2001 to Alaska Wildland Adventures.
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 board member of WWF Finland.
Alaska Wildland Adventures based in Girdwood, Alaska is an adventure travel company founded in 1977 by Kirk Hoessle. It operates small group nature safaris from Fairbanks to the Kenai Peninsula and special trips to high arctic villages and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Samantha Smith, director of WWF's Arctic Programme, said: "We are delighted to award our 2001 Arctic Award to Alaska Wildland Adventures. They are a superb example of how tourism can work in harmony with conservation. Not only are they innovative and forward-looking but they are also great advocates for nature conservation and sound tourism practice within their own industry and government."
Amongst many innovations introduced by Alaska Wildland Adventures is the use of a hydroelectric power system at one of their four trekking lodges, and the creation of a manual on best practice conservation tourism. The manual is used to educate and inform new employees and is given free to other travel businesses to help develop best practice throughout the industry.
Alaska Wildland Adventure also gives 10 percent of pre-tax profits to local conservation groups and has introduced a 'dollar-a-day scheme', which encourages guests to contribute two US dollars a day to local conservation causes.
The tour company plans to donate the 10,000 Swiss Franc prize to the Alaska Conservation Foundation and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.
The runner-up prize for the 2001 WWF Arctic Award is Igloolik Outdoor Adventures of Nunavut, Canada. Since 1995, its owners, Brad Parker and Tamareesee Akittiq, have established a business consisting of quality service, comfortable home-style accommodation at their bed and breakfast, and superior guiding services provided by local Inuit guides. The focus of their programmes is the opportunity to view and record on film, concentrations of bowhead whales, walrus, polar bears, seals and many species of arctic bird life.
They have been instrumental in founding the Foxe Basin Bowhead Whale Foundation and in research on marine mammals. They are also working to establish Igloolik Island as a World Heritage site.
The announcement of the awards was made at the Arctic Ecotourism Conference which is running in Hemavan, Sweden from April 25th to 28th. Organised by WWF's Arctic Programme, the Swedish Ecotourism Association, the County Administration of VŠsterbotten, the International Ecotourism Society and the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association, the conference covers ecotourism in the context of conservation, communities, and marketing.
It is part of a series of events in the United Nations' Year of Ecotourism (IYE) which culminates in the World Ecotourism Summit in Quebec, Canada from May 19-22. Recommendations from the Arctic Ecotourism Conference will be presented at the Quebec Summit.
Previous winners of the Arctic Award were Lappland Safari from Finland in 2000, and Arctic Treks from Alaska in 1999.
For further information:
Samantha Smith, WWF Arctic Programme, tel: +47 45 02 21 49, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marie von Zeipel, WWF Sweden, tel: + 46 706 291 077, email: email@example.com
Julian Woolford, WWF Arctic Programme, tel: +47 93 00 64 47, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alaska Wildland Adventures
Kirk Hoessle, President
PO Box 389, Girdwood, Alaska 99587, USA
Tel 001 907 783 2928
Igloolik Outdoor Adventures
PO Box 219
Tel 001 867 934 8759
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. For further information on WWF's Ten Principles of Arctic Tourism, visit: http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/arctic/what_we_do/tourism/tourism_tips.cfm