Machiel Lamers is an Assistant Professor at the Environmental Policy Group of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He is a sociologist by training and his research interests are in the fields of sustainable tourism, tourism and nature conservation, environmental policy, and science-policy interface. The Polar Regions are among this prime current research areas, along with East Africa and Indonesia.
Diversification of the tourism sector is the key driver of change of the sector in both Polar Regions. Next to changing modes of transport and diversifying types of activities and localities, the tourism sector also increasingly links and teams up with other societal domains and sectors to enrich the experience, cut the costs or obtain other mutual benefits. Earlier research that I carried out on board of cruise ships in the Antarctic demonstrated that multiple purpose cruises or diversified cruises (muliple types of groups on board) also lead to changing social dynamics on board, different behaviours of participants and guides and different levels of engagement with nature conservation, with potentially interesting implications for visitor/site guidelines, guiding practices or other management systems. The SEES expedition provides a unique opportunity to study these relations and implications on a combined tourist-science expedition. Given the current trends in both Polar Regions in this direction it is both timely and urgent to analyse these relations and their management implications. Through participatory observation, surveying and interviewing the participants on board, a rich account of the expedition can be generated that will forms a case study in a paper on this emerging topic. Surveys and interviews can be scheduled carefully to minimise the burden on the participants.