AECO strengthens relations with Iceland stakeholders

AECO (Logo)Local value and growth management were the most important topics when AECO meet with local stakeholders on an expedition cruise around Iceland.

Starting in Reykjavík, AECO visited nine different destinations during a weeklong stakeholder cruise in the beginning of June. The vessel stopped in Patreksfjörður, Akureyri and Grímsey, among other places, where local stakeholders were invited onboard.

Some had been working with expedition vessels for many years, but never visited a ship. Others were interested to learn more about AECO’s projects in Iceland and expedition cruises in general.

– I had never realized that there were different types of cruises before. My understanding of expedition cruises and their objectives is much better now,after having been invited on board, said Ragnhildur Hjaltadóttir, owner of Gistiheimilið Básar guesthouse in Grímsey.

The interest in Iceland as a destination is increasing and so are AECO’s engagements on the island. The latest project is Clean Up Iceland that kicked off on a beach in Skagafjörður in May. Organizing cleanups is one of the ways that expedition cruise’s creates local value at destinations.

Another project is Made in the Arctic, which aims to encourage local value creation by mapping out what is produced in each community. This will make it easier for expedition cruise operators and their guests to buy more locally. It also includes the first ever AECO Market Place 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 with this:

– 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.

Growth management was another topic that came up throughout the meetings since different stakeholders represent different interests. Some communities have,for example, discussed limitations as an approach to managing growth.

– We have been considering a limit on the number of ships or passengers per day to 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, said Elfar, harbour master in Patreksfjordur after his visit on board the AECO expedition cruise ship.