Visitation to Polar Regions Essay Example

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Visitation to Polar Regions


This proposal provides a clear plan to undertake an intensive investigation into the effects of climate change and their impact on tourism and adventure industry particularly in the Polar Regions. The research will primarily focus on viability of adventure and tourism activities in the Polar Regions. Using Quark Expeditions Inc. as a holistic adventure organization the survey seeks to analyze various the impacts of climate change on tourism and adventure activities in the Polar Regions. The primary participants in this survey will be employees of Quark Expeditions Inc. across all management levels. Using a cross-sectional survey, various observations from the company staff with regard to climate change and how it has influenced tourism activities in the Polar Regions will be measured. Consequently, in-depth qualitative interviews will be conducted to determine personal observations.

Research Question

The Polar Regions are continuously being hit by the current climatic changes being experienced across the globe. For instance, it has been identified that Polar glacial, ice sheet and sea ice are drastically melting thus causing detrimental effects on ecosystems. Similarly, negative impacts on infrastructure and the indigenous way of life have been extensively affected. Equally important to mention, Polar Regions ecosystems are prone to invasion by other species. Furthermore, there is increased permafrost thaw. In regard to this observation the government and other environment management organizations are working tirelessly to ensure that adventure and visitation to the Polar Regions is regulated in order to mitigate or to the least control the massive environmental effects that are being experienced in these regions. This research proposal provides a framework for an intensive study into the topic “Visitation to Polar Regions has increased in recent years. Despite advanced techniques in managing these environmentally sensitive regions, should the government and/or industry representatives prevent tourism activity in these regions?

Aims and Objectives of the research

The main aim of this research proposal is to provide a platform to understand the effects of climate change in the Polar Regions on the adventure and tourism industry. Using Quark Expedition Inc. as the basis of this case study, the specific objectives to be pursued are listed below:

  • Have a comprehensive and clear picture of the effects of adventure and tourism activities on environmentally sensitive areas

  • To understand the impact of climate change on the Polar Regions

  • To have an inherent understanding of what adventure companies should do in order to adapt to adversely changing climatic conditions in the Polar Regions.

Significance of the Research

This research will be instrumental to various stakeholders in the adventure and tourism industry. The government for instance, will gather information with regard to adventure company operations and how these operations impact on the environmentally sensitive areas. Consequently, it will help the government to formulate policies and strategies that will either advocate for tourism in these regions or abolish any adventure operation in the Polar Regions. The adventure and tour industry will also use the outcomes of the research to ensure companies within the industry engage in tourism activities that are environmentally friendly; come up with a strategic approach to climate change and thus ensure fostering of future tourism operations in Polar Regions. In essence, the research will provide recommendations on how the government and the adventure industry should respond to the effects of climate change based on the outcomes of the research.

Literature Review

Polar Regions are the worst hit areas as a result of climate change; they witness greatest temperature changes and thus they provide the obvious evidence and indicators of change. Polar tourism and adventures have been found to lead to increased green house gas emission in this areas thus propagating warming and temperature increases that in turn temper with the natural settings in these regions (Piotrowski, 2010). Governments and other stakeholders in environment management are working to ensure that business organizations engage in activities that are environmental friendly. For instance, adventure companies should reduce Green House Gas emissions and by doing so they will be considered environmental friendly companies (Piotrowski, 2010). Consequently, it is a form of competitive advantage that encourages the customer support to improve their processes while reducing costs at the same time.

Hoffman and Woody (2007, p.25) provide a frame for climate change strategy showing how various business organizations particularly tourism firms should approach climate change. For instance, the company should know their carbon exposure; in this regard they need to asses their carbon footprint and the impact it has on their related market transition on products and services. Similarly, they must actively engage in activities that decrease their carbon footprint while also assessing their business opportunities (Piotrowski, 2010). Equally important, adventure companies should also actively participate in the tourist policy development process. As expressed in a Strategic Approach to Climate, Porter and Reinhardt (2009, p.22), established that business firms need to change now and must strategically handle the effects of climate on company operations including vulnerabilities to effects like availability of energy, water and the reliability of infrastructure and supply chain.

Accordingly, firms that think and act strategically should asses risk and reduction methods and can also seek competitive advantage through creation of products that meet climate demand. They should also be on the forefront in the restructuring their industry to address climate issues or by being innovative in activities affected by the supply chain (Porter & Reinhardt, 2007, p.22). Environmentalists summarize the climate strategy by establishing that a company should beat competitors in two main areas: reducing exposure to climate related risks and also finding opportunities within those risks (Lash & Wellington, 2007, p.101)

Governments together with environmental organizations have come up with rules and regulations that compel the tourism industry to act; however, little has been done to direct these companies on how to adapt to challenges associated with climate change (Wilby et al., 2009, p.1193). In the same line of argument, it has been established that scientific articles with regard to impacts of climate change are far more than articles on adaptation to these changes. The business society and the world at large desire to know the impacts of climate change and hence sought forecasts in order to plan for the future (ScienceDaily, 2007). The physical environment and ecosystems are changing drastically thus posing concerns ranging from water supply, health, poverty to natural disasters and regional conflicts. With regard to this significant observations, business organizations are called upon to focus beyond embracing climate change as a corporate social responsibility issues and counter it as a strategic issue (Porter & Reinhardt, 2007, p.22).

Adventure Industry is widely affected by climate change particularly to existing and future destinations and products. The tourism industry is currently involved in extensive studies to come up with an inherent understanding of climate change and its effect on the environment; for instance they are closely taking into consideration adaptation strategies more keenly (ScienceDaily, 2007).

The Polar Regions experience extreme temperature changes and hence they evidently show or indicate change. Albedo effects are increased by Melting Arctic Ice that eventually results into increased warming and temperature due to reduced ice cover to reflect the rays of the sun. Hassol (2004) established that the average Arctic temperature increased at double rates as compared to the world’s rate for the last few decades. Accordingly, ScienceDaily, (2009) found out that the Antarctica has not experienced similar temperature increases as the Arctic, however it is considered one of the rapidly warming regions on earth with the changes in climate affecting penguins and microscopic life at the base of its ecosystem (UNEP, 2009).

According to the Arctic Report Card 2008 (NOAA, 2008), there continues to be widespread and, in some cases, dramatic evidence of an overall warming of the Arctic system. For instance, the atmosphere temperature increased by 50 C in autumn; sea-ice extent in the summer was minimum; fisheries and marine mammals were highly impacted by the loss of sea ice (Piotrowski, 2010). Consequently, there were observable increases in temperature of both the surface and deep ocean layers; the Greenland recorded massive summer surface melt. Similarly, the permafrost temperatures tend to increase, while snow extent tends to decrease. Baldacchino (2006, p.36) observed that with a prediction of 5-70C temperature increase for the next 50 years particularly in the northern latitudes, seasonal sea ice reduction around many cold water islands will have immense impact on ecosystems, local residents, and tourism natural amenities. Baldacchino notes that the natural environment in the Polar Region is one of the rapidly changing areas on the planet.

Quark Expeditions, Inc. is one of polar adventure companies, it offers polar sailing expeditions. It is that company with the largest Atlantic fleet and has the ability to travel further than any other company operating in the Arctic; it has nuclear-powered icebreakers well equipped with helicopters and Zodiac boats (Piotrowski, 2010). The company has a wide range of tourism products including hiking, camping, bird watching, marine animal spotting, sightseeing, research and other educational activities (WTO & UNEP, 2008). Although the company has excellent program for environmental responsibility and education for the Polar Regions the impact of their activities are eminent. These include: the glacial retreat, hanging glaciers and bare rock walls, increased snow falls and Antarctic bio-security threat (Buckley, 2006).


The discussion above focuses on how the adventure companies can adapt to climate change and thereby coming up with clear strategies that will enable them to operate in these environmentally sensitive areas in the long-run. Consequently, the review also gives a clear picture of what is happening to essential natural resources due to increased human activities. For example, continued melting of sea ice, increasing sea levels, and the overall increase in the global temperatures. Consequently, the review advices adventure companies on what to do in order to be remain competitive.


The review does not elaborately explain what measures the government has put in place to curb adventure activities in Polar Regions. Similarly, the research solely focuses on climate change and its impact on the Tourism and Adventure activities not taking into consideration other factors.


The general research methodology that will be employed in this study will take a holistic case study approach where Quark Expeditions Inc. will serve as the organization for studying the impacts of climate change on Polar Regions with regard to adventure and tourism activities. The research will use mixed methods for gathering data; the mixed methods data gathering strategies will be formulated using exploratory design (Bryman & Bell, 2011). Through, the research both quantitative and qualitative surveys will be used. The researcher will first of all design field administered quantitative survey that will involve a cross-section of Quark Expeditions Inc. staff at different management levels, visitors and adventurers to Polar Regions. Secondly, the researcher will employ a series of in-depth qualitative survey involving a sample of participants who participated in the quantitative survey (Bryman & Bell, 2011). The later part of the survey has a singular objective of delivering comprehensive information from the participants across different levels of management; this stage is vital in describing and evaluating the different patterns observed in the quantitative survey. Similarly, before administering the described surveys above, the researcher will conduct an extensive document review with regard to topic to establish the contextual background of the study.

Data Collection Methods

In order to achieve the mandate of the research, the researcher will seek access to relevant information regarding climate change and tourism from the Quark Expeditions Inc. Consequently, the researcher will use the publicly available information on climate change and how tourism and adventure activities are impacted. These documents will help the researcher to develop the background of the research. After extensive document review, the researcher will then distribute the quantitative survey by email to participants, where possible he will reach out and hand over the survey in person (Bryman & Bell, 2011). In the process of distribution, the researchers will advice the participants to complete the survey and return it in two weeks time. Further, they will also be informed that they might be contacted later for qualitative interviews. Data entry, coding and error checking coupled with initial analysis will be conducted before commencing the qualitative survey (Bryman & Bell, 2011). For qualitative survey, the main aim will be to understand the views of Quark Expeditions management views on climate change with regard to tourism and adventure.


The sampling process targets employees of Quark Expeditions Inc. across all management levels, visitors and adventurers to the Polar Regions. For quantitative survey, the researcher will sent the survey to a stratified random sample of Quark Expeditions Inc. employees across all management levels, visitors and adventurers (Bryman & Bell, 2011). The total sample population that the researcher will use is 100 participants selected randomly. This strategy will enhance the validity for standardization of the results of the research. The second bit of the survey, the researcher will target 40 respondents who successfully participated and completed the quantitative survey.

Data Analysis

After the participants return the quantitative survey, their responses will be prepared for analysis; the researcher will key-in the data into the computer (VERBI Software, 2012). SPSS software will be used for statistical analysis. For this matter, the data will be entered into the computer using SPSS data entry spreadsheet interface and for the purposes of accuracy, the data will be double checked (VERBI Software, 2012). The qualitative interviews captured through the digital recording device will be transcribed professionally into Microsoft Word document files before analyzing. Accordingly, the researcher’s contextual field notes with regard to each qualitative interview will be typed into verbatim into a Word document for analysis (VERBI Software, 2012).

Ethical Considerations

The researcher will work to ensure that the survey is extremely ethical and morally acceptable; for instance, he will ensure that the respondents are fully aware of the general mandate of the research. Consequently, he will inform the participants about the qualifications and credentials of the person conducting the survey. Significantly important, the researcher will ensure that the responses of the participants are treated with the highest credibility and confidentiality. In this regard, Quark Expeditions Inc. top management will never gain access to their responses. In the same line of argument, the participant will be made to be aware that their participation is voluntary. The qualitative survey; the researcher will come up with a draft consent document/letter that will ensure participants are fully informed of what to expect during the interview and that their interviews will only and only be recorded on their consent. Furthermore, they are at liberty to end the interview at any time; and lastly, their sentiments with regard to the topic may be quoted in the research report only if they are identified by a pseudonym. For validity and protection of this ethical code; the code will be scrutinized by the researcher’s consulting group.

Validity and Reliability

This research is valid and reliable as its outcomes will give the researcher an opportunity to advice through recommendation the Adventure and/or tourism industry on the way forward. For instance, if the outcomes of the survey favor the continuation of tourism activities in these regions, then, the researcher will recommend for them to continue.


The above explanation is an elaborate work plan for conducting a conclusive survey with effects of climate change and their impact of adventure and tourism activities in the Polar Regions. Using Quark Expeditions Inc. as a holistic organization which has massively invested in adventure and tourism activities in the region, this research proposal when fully implemented will automatically establish whether tourism activities in the Polar Regions should either be continued or be abolished. The use of both quantitative and qualitative surveys in the research will eventually create an inherent understanding and hence appropriately recommend on the proper course to be taken.


ACIA 2005 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Cambridge University Press [Online]. Retrieved on 1/6/2013, from: Accessed on 01/6/2013

Baldacchino, G. 2006 Extreme Tourism: Lessons from the World’s Cold Water Islands. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

Bryman, A. & Bell, E. 2011. Business research methods (3rd Ed.). London: Oxford University Press.

Buckley, R. 2006 Adventure Tourism. Oxfordshire, UK: CAB International.

Hoffman, A. J. and Woody, J. G. (2008) Climate Change: What’s Your Business Strategy? Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Lash, J. and Wellington, F. 2007 ‘Competitive Advantage on a Warming Planet,’ Harvard Business Review, Vol. 85, Issue 3, March 2007, pp. 94-102.

NOAA 2008 Arctic Report Card 2008: Tracking recent environmental changes. Available at:

Piotrowski, R. 2010, Adventure Tourism Companies & Climate Change: Observations from Himalaya, Amazon, and Polar Regions Spark Adaptation strategies for Business. Cambridge University & Xola Consulting. Retrieved on 1/6/2013, from:

Porter, M.E. and Reinhardt, F.L. 2007 ‘A Strategic Approach to Climate,’ Harvard Business Review, Vol. 85, Issue 10, Oct.2007, pp. 22-26.

Science Daily 2009 Climate-related Changes Affect Life on the Antarctic Peninsula. Retrieved on 1/6/2013, from:

ScienceDaily 2007 Will Climate Change Kill the Amazon? Retrieved on 1/6/2013, from:

UNEP 2009 Climate in Peril: A popular guide to the latest IPCC reports [Online]. Retrieved on 1/6/2013, from:

VERBI Software. 2012. MAXQDA 11: The art of data analysis – Introduction. Retrieved on 01/6/2013, from

Wilby, R.L., Troni, J., Biot, Y., Tedd, L., Hewitson, B.C., Smith, D.M., and Sutton, R.T. 2009 ‘A review of climate risk information for adaptation and development planning,’ International Journal of Climatology, Vol. 29, No. 9, pp. 1193-1215, Published online 5 January 2009 in Wiley Inter Science

WTO and UNEP 2008 Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges. Madrid, Spain: World Tourism Organization and United Nations Environment Programme.