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AECO taps Arctic community engagement project manager

Ilja Leo Lang worked with expedition cruise operations as a lecturer at the University of Greenland. He also has extensive experience organizing community workshops
The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators hired Ilja Leo Lang as project manager to lead community engagement initiatives.

The goal is ensuring Arctic expedition tourism is carried out in partnership and dialogue with local stakeholders.  

Considerable Arctic experience

Lang worked for AECO from 2012-2019 as project manager, office manager and assistant director. In addition, he worked with expedition cruise operations as a lecturer at the University of Greenland. He's also experienced at organizing community workshops where local stakeholders decide on the guidelines they wish to implement for their community. 

Nordic Atlantic Cooperation toolkit

One project AECO champions is the community engagement toolkit supported by the intergovernmental Nordic Atlantic Cooperation. The goal is developing a set of community engagement tools and approaches that can easily be applied by operators and local communities to ensure sustainable tourism and community engagement across the North Atlantic. 

Community guidelines

Lang will also be responsible for a project in collaboration with the Icelandic Tourist Board/Ferðamálastofa. This involves developing community-specific guidelines for Iceland, Greenland, Norway and the Faroe Islands. Community guidelines play an essential role in educating those who visit Arctic communities. 

'If my past experience with small Arctic communities has taught me one thing, it is just how important it is that locals are involved directly in operations that take place in their community, both to maximize local benefits, but also to ensure a successful operation,' Lang said.

'Expedition cruise calls in small Arctic communities are not merely a visit but have to be directly beneficial to the community in order to be sustainable.' He added that community engagement can improve cultural understanding and awareness, support local businesses and provide benefits in a variety of other ways.

Follows AECO panel at Seatrade

Last month AECO led the 'Engaging Local Communities in Expedition Cruising' session during a day focused on expedition and sustainable cruising at Seatrade Cruise Global 2.0 Power Week.

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