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AECO cruises Iceland on board Fridtjof Nansen to meet local stakeholders

PHOTO: AECO cruise_aeco.1.jpg
Local value and growth management were the most important topics when AECO meet with local stakeholders in Iceland
Members of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators toured Iceland on an expedition cruise to meet with local stakeholders.

Starting in Reykjavík, AECO visited nine destinations during the weeklong cruise from May 29 to June 6 on board Hurtigruten’s Fridtjof Nansen. 

The vessel called at Reykjavík, Stykkishólmur, Skagafjörður, Siglufjörður, Akureyri, Grímsey, Bakkagerð/Borgarfjörður-Eystri and Vestmannaeyjar with local stakeholders invited on board the ship to learn about AECO’s projects in Iceland and expedition cruises in general, and more. 

Growth management 

Growth management was a key theme that came up throughout the meetings. ‘We have been considering a limit on the number of ships or passengers per day to Patreksfjordur,’ said Elfar Steinn Karlsson, harbour master at the Port of Patreksfjordur. ‘We feel that that would give a better guest experience and let the locals rest assured knowing that we have this segment of tourism under control. It is very nice to hear that AECO supports us in those actions.’ 

Projects in Iceland 

AECO reports interest in Iceland is increasing along with its engagements on the island. The latest project is 'Clean Up Iceland' that kicked off on a beach in Skagafjörður in May, with litter picking seen as one way for expedition cruising to create local value.

The association’s additional 'Made in the Arctic' project aims to encourage local value creation by mapping out what is produced in each community, making it easier for cruise lines and their passengers to buy more locally. It includes the first AECO Marketplace in October, an initiative to meet both operators and local business’s needs.

‘We introduced this to the stakeholders and it resonated with many, who want to increase their engagement with expedition operators, but have not found ways of connecting with them. The Market Place in October will be an opportunity for local companies to get noticed by our members,’ said Gyða Guðmundsdóttir, head of community engagement at AECO.

Heba Guðmundsdóttir, project manager of economic, cultural, and marketing affairs at Skagafjordur municipality agreed, adding, ‘Skagafjordur is the “food cellar” of Iceland, and we see a lot of opportunities in selling locally produced products to the expedition vessels. AECO´s project will help us highlight the many local products and services of our area.’ 

Search and rescue exercise in Patreksfjordur

Additional activities included a search and rescue exercise in Patreksfjordur with the Icelandic Coast Guard. ‘Our year-long cooperation with AECO has built trust between the coast guard and expedition cruise industry,’ remarked Auðunn Kristinsson, chief of operations at the Icelandic Coast Guard. ‘We see those vessels as a resource and as partners in the field. It was great to be able to arrange a helicopter exercise on short notice with Hurtigruten’s Fridtjof Nansen. This event was a testament of our strong cooperation.'