This week, the Society of American Travel Writers has been hosting its annual convention in Reykjavik, Iceland. The SATW represents some 1,000 journalists, photographers, and media relations professionals who work in the travel industry, and their annual convention typically sees several hundred members meeting, networking and learning about a particular part of the world in situ. During this year’s convention, Arctic Encounters helped organise several “Professional Development” lectures, workshops and discussion sessions linked to various Arctic-related topics. The aim of these sessions has been to encourage travel journalists and tourism industry professionals to reflect upon some of the crucial issues currently facing the Arctic.
The three talks were all recorded and are now available online with the following links:
Not necessarily the best in the world: Culture in Iceland during boom and bust (click to hear)
Kristín Loftsdottir (Professor of Anthropology, University of Iceland)
In the early 2000s, Iceland enjoyed a prosperous boom period, which ended abruptly with a historic economic crash in 2008. This presentation focused on discourses about Icelandic culture in Iceland during the economic boom period and how they engaged with Iceland’s former status as a subjected country and attempts to be seen as fully “civilised” on pair with other European countries.
The factual, the fictive and the fabulous: Halldór Laxness on writing and traveling (click to hear)
Gísli Pálsson (Professor of Anthropology, University of Iceland)
Gisli spoke about the importance of the Laxness novel Kristnihald undir Jökli (Christianity at Glacier; sometimes translated in English as Under the Glacier), a deadpan, ironic tale about a young theology student investigating the strange goings-on around a mountain in western Iceland. Pálsson discussed how the book raises interesting questions about writing, authenticity and truth in humorous (and anthropological) ways.
Arctic tourism: Ethics, sustainability and futures (click to hear)
In this roundtable discussion, a group of six travel professionals and tourism scholars participated in an engaging talk about the future of tourism in the Arctic. The discussion centred around current (and future) issues in Arctic tourism, including “sustainability”, the climate change paradox (e.g. “loving the Arctic to death”), commercial viability in tourist enterprises, experiential and self-guided tourism, destination creation and the Icelandic model of tourism development. The session was moderated by Roger Norum and featured the insights of Simone Abram; Rebecca Bruce; Katrín Anna Lund; Eliza Reid; and Julia Spence.