Arctic Tourism: Community Adaptation to Climate Change

Project title: Climate Change and Tourism Change in Northern Canadian Communities: A Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (2009-2012)

Research team:

This research seeks to clarify and expand strategies for managing tourism change and its interaction with climate change in several northern Canadian communities. Climate change, along with other influences such as global economic shifts and increasing security concerns, will have far-reaching consequences for tourism in the Canadian north. Communities and individuals who rely on the sector may be affected through negative outcomes or through opportunities for development. This research addresses the urgent need to understand climate change adaptations in the tourism industry in reference to northern residents and northern communities based on their strengths, experiences and visions. Using case studies in Baffin Island, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, the research will explore changes for communities related to expedition cruising and terrestrial wildlife tourism. The study adapts a framework that encompasses climate change, tourism change, community resilience and community adaptation. The goal of the study is to identify appropriate community-level adaptation strategies to be used by local stakeholders and decision-makers. Adaptation will be unique to each community, but likely will focus on changes in visitor numbers, expectations, experiences and impacts, necessitating a variety of adaptation strategies that seek to take advantage of the opportunities and to minimize negative outcomes.  This study is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

This research seeks to answer the following questions:

  • How do northern residents adapt to tourism change?
  • What are the elements of community resilience that can help residents cope with tourism change and its interaction with climate change?
  • How are local and non-local stakeholders in the tourism industry responding to climate change related conditions and uncertainty?
  • What are the interactions of climate change and non-climate change related stresses being experienced in northern communities and in the tourism industry?
  • What strategies will help communities and residents adapt to the interactions of tourism change and climate change?


Page last updated on: 12/05/2011