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WWF and tourist operator sign agreement to protect the Arctic

Press release from World Wildlife Fund | May 04, 2006

Olso, Norway - WWF and Arctic tour operator Spitsbergen Travel have signed an agreement that will increase awareness about the Arctic environment among tourists, company employees and business partners.
"We want to do our part to protect it and hope that this cooperation will be positive both for Spitsbergen Travel and WWF, but more importantly for Arctic nature."
- Jan Sverre Sivertsen, Spitsbergen Travel's marketing manager


Spitsbergen Travel, based in the Svalbard Archipelago, will support WWF's work in the Arctic for three years through a joint climate project in which the tour operator has committed to analyze its energy use and reduce its emissions. Spitsbergen Travel will also reduce the environmental impact of its hotels, and tell visitors to Svalbard about environmental issues in the Arctic.

The Arctic has long been a popular destination for tourism. Visitors have been coming to Svalbard, for example, since the 1890s.

"The Arctic is the basis of our business so we must care for it," said Jan Sverre Sivertsen, Spitsbergen Travel's marketing manager.

"We want to do our part to protect it and hope that this cooperation will be positive both for Spitsbergen Travel and WWF, but more importantly for Arctic nature."

The latest findings indicate that the Earth is warming faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years and climate change in the Arctic is expected to be among the greatest of any region on Earth.

Damage done to the fragile Arctic ecosystems is extremely long lasting. In some cases, it may be irreversible. Populations of some whales are still dangerously low after centuries of hunting even though most commercial whaling has ceased. And fish stocks in some Arctic waters are being fished to extinction, while sea birds and even polar bears suffer from over-hunting.

"Tour companies can make a big difference in the Arctic," said WWF International Arctic Programme Director Samantha Smith.

"They can set an example by running their business in an environmentally-friendly way. They can also educate their guests, who ideally will return home inspired to make a difference on climate change and other issues."


editors note Since 1992, WWF's International Arctic Programme has been working across the Arctic to preserve the region's rich biodiversity in a sustainable way. The Programme focuses on five of WWF's global priorities: marine, freshwater, species, toxics and climate change, as well as sustainable tourism.

For more infortmation:
Miriam Geitz, Arctic Tourism Officer
WWF International Arctic Programme
E-mail: mgeitz@wwf.no

Article has been adapted from a news release issued by World Wildlife Fund. Click here for the original news release.

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