The AECO guidelines are tools for the organization of respectable, environmentally-friendly and safe expedition cruising in the Arctic. The guidelines are intended to support AECO members and their guests in their efforts ensure safe experiences of the Arctic’s unique and fragile nature, wildlife, cultures and cultural remains. The guidelines are also intended to support the protection of the environment and respect for and benefits to local communities.
Tourism, cruise and shipping activities in the Arctic operate within a comprehensive framework of international and national laws and regulations to ensure safety and preservation of the environment. Nevertheless, there is a need for operators to take responsibility for their activities and actions both within formal laws and regulations, and also where these regulations do not reach or define all aspects of their activities.
The expedition cruises conducted by all AECO members represent the sole means of access to the public (except for the very resourceful few) to the more remote areas of the Arctic. We believe that access to these areas should be kept open to the public, unless very strong reasons require closure of some kind. AECO believes that the best way to secure access to the tourist operators is through professional and sound organization and management. AECO members are prepared to take responsibility for their part of this management by operating according to laws and regulations, and through implementation of self-regulation.
All AECO-members already work according to a large set of operating manuals and internal guidelines, and in accordance with existing laws and regulations. The AECO- guidelines are not meant to replace member companies’ operating manuals, but to supplement and strengthen the set of available management tools. We also appreciate that the individual member companies might focus on specific aspects of the arctic experience and environment through theme programs, and that this might put more emphasis on specific areas of for example, environmental protection, than what is specified in the AECO-guidelines.
AECO has three sets of guidelines:
AECO' Operational guidelines are guidelines the cruise operators and members of AECO are obliged to follow.
Guidelines for visitors to the Arctic
AECO's "Guidelines for visitors to the Arctic" are guidelines for all guests visiting the Arctic with an AECO-members. "Guidelines for visitors to the Arctic are available in English, Deutsch (German) and Norsk (Norwegian).
Svalbard site guidelines
AECO is proud to have developed the first nine site specific guidelines in the Arctic. The site guidelines gives information on specific sites and gives guidance to how visits can be carried out without negative impact on environment and cultural remains.