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Frozen Adventure at Risk? A 7-year Follow-up Study of Norwegian Glacier Tourism

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This article aims at illuminating the contemporary glacier tourism scene, and does so by showing how glacier tourism in Norway has developed as an adventure tourism activity over the past 7 years. In total, 17 companies offered guided glacier activities for approximately 20–30,000 visitors per year. Data were collected by repeated interviews, website studies, and participant observation. The product variety covers guided day tours, longer guided tours, and glacier instructor courses. There has been product development from traditional glacier surface walks and activities in the glacier-arm area as well as glacier lake kayaking, terminal face walks, and ice climbing. Glacier tourism can be seen as a mix between purchasable short-term holidays and gradually acquired life-time skill. This analysis focuses on five important preconditions for this adventure tourism niche, namely, natural resources, access, demand, entrepreneurship, and need for special competence. The study also provides insight into current and future challenges and perceived risks on three levels. Results indicate that glacier tourism is not dependent on large glaciers. Studying current companies' location shows there is room for expansion in terms of extensively using natural resources where there is demand. However, some entrepreneurs are sceptical of the industry's future as recent recession of the glaciers has made access more difficult.

Keywords: 7-year follow-up; Norway; adventure tourism; entrepreneurship; glacier tourism; guiding; implicit climate change adaption

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Norwegian School of Hotel Management,University of Stavanger, Stavanger, Norway

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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