AECO hires Community Engagement Project Manager to lead Arctic initiatives

With new community engagement projects on the horizon, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators hires a Project Manager to lead initiatives to ensure that expedition cruise tourism in the Arctic is carried out in partnership and dialogue with local stakeholders.

The Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators have appointed Ilja Leo Lang as new Community Engagement Project Manager, starting work this week.

Ilja has previously worked for AECO from 2012-2019, holding the positions of project manager, office manager and assistant director. Now he returns to AECO on an ongoing basis to develop a range of projects that will strengthen the organization’s community engagement initiatives.

Ilja has considerable Arctic experience, having worked with expedition cruise operations in Greenland and working as a lecturer at the University of Greenland.

Community engagement is at the heart of AECO’s work, and one project that the association champions is the community engagement toolkit, supported by NORA (Nordic Atlantic Cooperation).

With an emphasis on community engagement the tool kit will contribute to developing mutual benefits relevant for all stakeholders: including social responsibility, community engagement, and sustainable tourism.

The goal of this project is to develop a set of community engagement tools and approaches that can easily be applied by operators and local communities. This will ensure sustainable tourism and community engagement initiatives across the North Atlantic.

Ilja will also be responsible for a project in collaboration with the Icelandic Tourist Board/Ferðamálastofa (FERDA). Among other things, the project involves developing community specific guidelines for Iceland, Greenland, Norway and the Faroe Islands. Community guidelines have played an essential role in educating those who visit Arctic communities.

Ilja Leo Lang has extensive experience in organizing community workshops where local stakeholders decide on the guidelines they wish to implement for their own community.
Speaking about his upcoming role, Ilja says; “The past decade I have been heavily involved with AECO’s community engagement efforts. I am very excited to start my new position as Community Engagement Project Manager. If my past experience with small Arctic communities has taught me one thing, it is just how important it is that locals involve directly in operations that take place in their community. Both to maximize local benefits, but also to ensure a successful operation. Expedition cruise calls in small Arctic communities are not merely a visit but have to be directly beneficial to the community in order to be sustainable. Community Engagement has great potential not only to leverage communication and coordination, but also to improve cultural understanding and awareness, support local businesses, and provide benefits to the community in a variety of other ways. I believe that expedition cruise operations carried out in close cooperation with local communities has an important role to play for innovation, development, and integration. On a more personal level I can’t wait to – once again – work for AECO in close cooperation with AECO’s members, committees and great partners all over the Arctic.”



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