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“Visitation to polar regions has increased in recent years. Despite advanced techniques in managing these environmentally sensitive areas, should government and/or industry representatives prevent tourism activity in these regions?” Essay Example

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Visitation to Polar Regions


Penguins Inc. is a speculative adventure company primarily offering tour and adventure services in the Polar Regions. Concerns about climate change and the continued deterioration of the Polar Region environment are on the rise. The government and other environmental organization are working hard to come up with regulations that will see the better use and protection of these regions (Gunn, 2002). Various high end technologies have been formulated and put into practice to help in the conservation of the Polar Regions; the tour industry have developed training programs for protecting and conserving the environmentally sensitive areas and each and every tour company operating in these areas must appropriately train their staff (ScienceDaily, 2007). This research proposal outlines a working framework for conducting a versatile and intensive research investigation to determine the effects of climate change and how they influence the tourism industry specifically for companies operating in the Polar Regions (ScienceDaily, 2009). Penguins Inc. is a holistic adventure company which the survey will use to analyze the effects of climate change on tourism activities in the Polar Regions (ScienceDaily, 2007). In this regard, the participants or sample population will wholly be derived from Penguins Inc. employees across all management levels. The cross-sectional survey will be used; views and observations of the company’s staff in relation to changes in climate and how these changes have impacted tourism activities will be measured and evaluated. Accordingly, the survey will also use extensive qualitative interviews to establish individual views with regard to how climate change has affected tourism in these regions.    

Research Question

The effects of climate change are evident in the Polar Regions; the polar glacier, sea ice, and ice sheets are rapidly depreciating due to the continued temperature increase. The climatic changes that are being experienced across the world have caused the melting of the polar ice sheets, glaciers, and see ice causing massive disintegration of polar ecosystems. For instance, the changing environmental conditions in the Polar Regions have resulted into extinction of some polar species. Consequently, it has caused other species to invade the Polar ecosystem. The permafrost thaw has also substantially increased (Gunn, 2002). Due to these extreme observations, the government together with other stakeholders in the Polar Regions have lounged tireless investigations to come up with working solutions that will help mitigate these deteriorating conditions and try and save the Polar Regions from these adverse effects of climate change (GRID, 2013). This document is a research proposal that provides a clear and working plan to conduct an inherent research 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 singular broad objective of this research proposal is to determine the effects of climate change on the environmentally sensitive areas (Polar Regions) and its effects on the tourism in these areas. Penguins Inc. is a holistic tour company that will be the focus of the study; in order to have an inherent understanding of this research topic, the following specific research objectives will be pursued:

  • To have a clear understanding of the effects of climate change on the Polar Regions

  • Have a comprehensive understanding of how climate change in the Polar Regions impact the Polar tourism activities

  • To find out what the tourism industry should order to sustain tourism activities in the Polar Regions regardless of the extreme climatic changes.

Significance of the Study

The information that will be gathered through this study will be vital and helpful to various stakeholders with vested interests in the Polar Regions. The government for instance, will clearly get the first hand understanding of how climate change affects the Polar Regions and come up with working strategies that will be used to address these issues. Consequently, the adaptive activities that tour companies use to cope up with adverse climatic condition in these areas will also be made known thus helping the government in streamlining these activities to ensure the sustainability of the industry. The government will also use the outcomes of the research to come up with informed Polar Regions tourism regulations. On the other hand, the tourism industry together with individual tour companies operating in the Polar Regions will use the outcomes of this research to develop best tourism practices that will encourage the conservation of the Polar Regions. Equally important, the adaptive activities that will be revealed in this research will be adopted by these companies to ensure that they sustain their businesses in the long run. The environmental friendly activities will be encouraged across all tourism companies working in these regions. To sum up, tourism companies and the industry at large will use the outcomes of the research to develop strategic approach to climate change which in turn ensure future tourism activities in these regions.

Literature Review

The Polar Regions tourism has grown to its maturity and is regarded as a diversified industry (Gunn, 2002). Thousands of tourists have visited and still are visiting these regions annually by the help of the tourism industry operating in these areas. Polar tourism is currently booming, providing diverse experience to the visitors (Gossling & Hall, 2006). It is an enticing industry with increased clientele together with diversely growing number of attractions, recreational activities, international destinations and visitor accommodation (Hassol, 2004). Climate change as many researchers have observed has minimal effect on tourism and adventure activities (Snyder, 2007).

However, the close relationship to the environment has prompted the adventure tourism companies to feel and react promptly to climate change impacts, come up with business practices that can cope with these effects (Grant, 2008). For instance, these companies develop business strategies, operational and marketing activities that reduce these effects while at the same time taking advantage of the diverse corporate opportunities that are yet to be exploited in the Polar Regions (Hassol, 2004).

The climate change effects are profound and prevalent across the globe, for this matter, tourism companies must be proactive in their operations and actively come up with strategies that will help them adapt to the polar environment (Gossling & Hall, 2006). In this regard, they need to work beyond corporate responsibility mindset and apply strategies that will help them manage climate change impacts on the business (Grant, 2008). Tourism companies are currently modifying their business models with a singular objective of reducing carbon emission for them to gain competitive advantage by actively being involved in environmental friendly activities (Lash & Wellington, 2007). Climate change although is a critical issue in Polar tourism it has not yet been strongly taken into consideration by companies operating in these regions and hence do not have practical approach in dealing with this issue (Snyder, 2007).

Various studies have been conducted to establish business models that business organization should employ when approaching climate change (ScienceDaily, 2009). One particular model was developed by Hoffman and Woody (2007, p.25) providing a framework for climate change strategy that displays how various companies especially those operating in the Polar Regions should deal with climate change (Gossling & Hall, 2006). This model demands that a business firm should know its carbon exposure by assessing its carbon footprint and the effect it has on its related market transition on their brands (Lash & Wellington, 2007). Furthermore, a business firm must actively strive to streamline its business activities to reduce the amount of carbon footprint as well as assessing its business opportunities (WTO & UNEP, 2008).  

Porter and Reinhardt (2009, p.22) in their Strategic Approach to Climate, concluded that business firms must change now and align their businesses in a manner that strategically counter the effects of climate change on the business operations.
Adaptation to climate change is regarded as the only way out that will foster tourism sustainability in the Polar Regions (Porter & Reinhardt, 2007). In this essence, tourism companies working in the Polar Regions need to have extensive and vast knowledge with regard to climate in order to develop business models and activities that will propel their adaptation agenda (NOAA, 2008). Consequently, companies are currently interested in the impacts of the climate and hence have sought forecasts in order for them to plan for the future (WMO, 2009). In line with this observation, tourism companies within the Polar Regions need to go beyond embracing climate change as a corporate social responsibility problem and work to tackle it as a strategic issue (Porter & Reinhardt, 2007).

Like the Agricultural industry, the tourism industry is widely affected by climate change; the impacts of climate change on weather and the natural environments can drastically affect the mentioned industries (Holden, 2008, p.215). The tourism industry in particular, climate change is an immense concern for both the existing and future products and destinations. Gunn, (2002, p.10) established that tourism involves products that are perishable than manufactured goods and the development of new tourism products is more complex.

The Davos Declaration came up with climate change recommendations for tourism industry and destinations (Piotrowski, 2010). They recommended that tourism industry should and must take leadership in implementing strong, concrete and working regulations including incentives to ensure the reduction and overall mitigation of climate change across the tourism value chain and reducing risk to tourists, tour operators, and infrastructure due to climate variability and shift (Holden, 2008). The tourism industry should establish targets and indicators to ensure and monitor progress (WMO, 2009). According, the declaration recommend that the industry should promote and undertake investment in energy efficiency tourism programs by using renewable energy resources, the main objective being reduction of carbon footprint  of the overall tourism sector (Moutinho, 2000).

Integrate tourism in the formulation and implementation of regional, national, and local level adaptation and mitigation strategies and implementation plans (WWF, 2009). The Nairobi Work Program on impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation to climate change provides a significant opportunity for the tourism industry to enhance knowledge, increase capacities and stimulate action (Lash & Wellington, 2007). The tourism company operations should work to achieve carbon free environments by decreasing pollution by using designs, operations and market responsive techniques (Piotrowski, 2010). More importantly, these companies must strive to conserve biodiversity, natural ecosystems together with landscapes in ways which anchor resilience to climate change while also ensuring long-term sustainable use of environmental resource base of tourism (Moutinho, 2000).

Penguins Inc. is a speculative polar adventure company offering 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 offers a wide range of tourism products including hiking, camping, bird watching, marine animal spotting, sightseeing, research and other educational activities (NOAA, 2008). Although the company has excellent program for environmental responsibility and education for the Polar Regions the impact of their activities are eminent (WWF, 2009). These include: the glacial retreat, hanging glaciers and bare rock walls, increased snow falls and Antarctic bio-security threat (Piotrowski, 2010).


The holistic case study approach will be used as the sole method of conducting this research, where Penguins Inc. will the organization under the study to establish the effects of climate change on tourism activities in Polar Regions. The mixed research methods will be used in data collection and in this perspective the mixed data collection strategies will be developed using the exploratory design (VERBI Software, 2012). The researcher will initially conduct an extensive document review in relation to the topic to establish the background of the research. Quantitative and qualitative survey will be employed; firstly, the researcher will design a questionnaire that will be distributed to Penguins Inc. staff across all management levels (VERBI Software, 2012). Secondly, extensive interviews involving a sample population from those who participated in the first survey will be conducted to establish the personal view with regard to what the company is doing to mitigate climate change.  

Data Collection Methods

The researcher will seek permission to access the relevant background information in relation to climate change, how it has and still is impacting the company, and relevant adaptive measures that the company has put in place. This will be achieved by reviewing the company’s documents and analyzing the publicly available information (VERBI Software, 2012). The researcher will then distribute the quantitative research questionnaires by the use of electronic mail, and where possible he will personally hand out the questionnaire. Through questionnaire distribution, the researcher will inform the participants that they might be conducted later for qualitative interviews (VERBI Software, 2012). Similarly, he will inform the participants that after successfully completing the questionnaire in two weeks they should mailed it back to him. For those who received hard copies, they should place it in a steel box labelled Survey Returns that will be provided to them (VERBI Software, 2012). Data entry, coding and error checking coupled with initial analysis will be conducted before commencing the qualitative survey. For qualitative survey, the main aim will be to understand the views of Penguins Inc. management with regard to climate change with regard to tourism and adventure.


Employees of Penguins Inc. across all management level are the main target sample that the researcher will use. The quantitative survey will be sent to a randomly stratified sample of Penguins Inc. employees. A sample population of 100 participants will be randomly selected. The qualitative survey will target 50 participants particularly from the middle and senior management levels who successfully participated in the quantitative survey.   

Data Analysis

When the respondents have successfully completed and returned their quantitative surveys, the researcher will prepare there responses for analysis; he will enter the data into the computer using the SPSS data entry spreadsheet in order to analyze the data statistically (VERBI Software, 2012). The use of the SPSS data entry spreadsheet interface will ensure accurate data entry; the data will also be double checked (VERBI Software, 2012). Digital recorders will be used to capture the qualitative survey by recording the interviews. The recorded information will be transcribed professionally into Microsoft Word files before the final analysis.

Ethical Considerations

The researcher will conduct the research morally trying as much as possible to ensure that research ethical codes of conduct are adhered to. In this perspective, he will ensure that the participants are informed of the main objective the research and that their participation is voluntary. In the same line, the respondents will be informed that confidentiality of their responses will not be compromised at any cost (ACIA, 2005). For this matter, an individual’s response will never be disclosed to the management or anybody else. Qualitative research will be treated with the highest discretion, the participants will be told in advance what to expect in the interview, and interview recording will be only done on consent of the interviewee (ACIA, 2005). The respondent’s responses will only be quoted in the research using pseudonyms. Accordingly, the interviewee will be at liberty to leave the interview at any time.   

Validity and Reliability of the Research

The outcomes of this research will help the researcher to appropriately advice the government and tourism industry on the way forward. It will establish the best adaptive practices while criticize those companies involved in activities that pose to be hazardous to the environment. The recommendations of the research will provide a clear insight to companies to develop their business strategies that both encourage their competitiveness while also fostering environmental protection.


The proposal described above provides a framework for conducting a survey to establish how climate change affects the tourism industry particularly in the Polar Regions and how the industry can develop adaptive measures to ensure continued tourism. Penguins Inc. is a holistic speculative tourism company that will be used to conduct this research. Full implementation of this research proposal will establish the basis for continued tourism activities in the Polar Regions.


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