VIU Supported International Polar Tourism Conference This June In Yukon

International conference focuses on sustainable tourism in the Polar Regions

June 7, 2018 - 9:45am

Yukon will host the 6th International Polar Tourism Research Network (IPTRN) conference from June 22-28, 2018. The Vancouver Island University (VIU) supported conference – “Creative Forces in the Polar Regions: Cultures, Economies, Innovation and Change in Tourism” – will explore the relationship between polar tourism and a variety of cultural and economic areas, including: the arts and culture, economic diversification and community development, social and cultural impacts of tourism, cultural and tourism planning and development, and challenges and strategies for sustainable development. The week-long event is planned to end just as the Adäka Cultural Festival begins in Whitehorse, and will provide an opportunity for delegates to attend a world class Indigenous festival.

“Before there were too many, there were too few,” Dr. Suzanne de la Barre, professor at Vancouver Island University (VIU), can often be found quoting to her students when discussing polar tourism.

“We can’t let the assessment that there are ‘too few’ tourists drive planning without thinking about the impact tourism development strategies will have 10 or 20 years down the road.”

A resident of the Yukon for almost 30 years, de la Barre is personally invested in the conversation.

She is co-organizing this year’s International Polar Tourism Research Network (IPTRN) conference as her way to help broaden the discussion. “My own research is driven by my Yukon sense of place and all the things that make it my home. Given that so many of the researchers who attend the conference also live in polar places, the conversation can at times be a display of intimate perceptions, experiences and aspirations for the polar places that we know and love,” adds de la Barre.

The Vancouver Island University (VIU) supported conference brings together forty Canadian and international researchers, with Yukon culture and tourism experts, local residents, and visitors to the Yukon to engage in meaningful conversations. “The conference gives the opportunity for participants to take part in discussions aimed at understanding the relationship between tourism and culture, heritage, and the arts. We take an in-depth look at the positive and negative impacts of tourism on community and economic development, environmental protection, cultural resilience and revitalization,” says de la Barre.

The event begins in Whitehorse and makes the highway journey up to Dawson City, a six hour bus ride away, part of its programming. “The format of the conference is unique as delegates are literally immersed in the issues we’re exploring at the conference - a remote setting is vital. We can better understand the challenges and opportunities when we share in them,” says Dr. Patrick Brouder, and conference co-coordinator.

At the heart of the 6th IPTRN are two open-to-the-public polar tourism research presentations and workshops: one is a community conversation on artists, community building and the opportunities of tourism; another explores how to support Indigenous language revitalization through tourism.  The public is also invited to a polar tourism themed improvisation theatre event which results from a partnership between IPTRN and Whitehorse-based Nakai Theatre.

The 6th IPTRN conference is made possible with the funding support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Government of Yukon, and is a collaboration with the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association (YFNCT).

 “This conference supports the YFNCT efforts of working with First Nations in the Yukon to encourage sustainable tourism and culture. Our polar regions are the first to experience the impact of global warming, and as we look at growing tourism, environmental issues will be at the forefront of the discussions,” says Charlene Alexander, Executive Director of YFNCT.

For more information about the IPTRN and the conference, visit




For information on the 2018 Yukon conference, please contact:



Rae-Anne LaPlante, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6673 | E: | T: @VIUNews


Tags: Tourism | whitehorse | yukon | Teaching and Learning

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