Polar Tourism Adapt: Adaptation pathways through knowledge co-production to anticipate Antarctica’s uncertain tourism futures

The ADAPT project contributes to a shift in how we envision the future of tourism in Antarctica, enabling strategic decision-making. The project equips both public and private stakeholders with tools such as future scenarios, adaptation pathways, and a monitoring system to detect signals of change. This enables them to make well-informed decisions regarding the future of tourism in Antarctica, ensuring the preservation of values and qualities, and securing a social license.


Within the framework of the Dutch Science Agenda (NWA), an intriguing initiative is unfolding under program line 2: the theme ‘Polar Tourism – Research Programme on Assessment of Impacts and Responses (PT‐REPAIR)’. This program emerges from collaboration among various ministries, including the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management (IenW), the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BZ), the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate (EZK), and the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality (LNV). Additionally, the PT‐REPAIR program is a component of the Netherlands’ ‘Polar Strategy 2021‐2025‘ (see paragraph 2.3).

Problem solution

The tourism industry in Antarctica is rapidly growing and diversifying. However, this comes with a potential for increasing (cumulative) impact, occurring amidst the vulnerable nature and wilderness values protected by international agreements. The central question arising from this situation revolves around the future of Antarctic tourism: what does it look like, what impact will it have, what measures can be taken to ensure protection of environmental qualities, and who bears the responsibility for this?

The projectteam consists of:
  • Stefan Hartman, Ph.D. – Head of Department of the European Tourism Futures Institute (ETFI – www.etfi.eu), NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences.
  • Albert Postma, Ph. D. – Professor of Scenario Planning & Strategic Foresight at NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences.
  • Jasper Heslinga, Ph. D. – Senior researcher at the ETFI, NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences.
  • Elizabeth Leane, Ph. D – Professor of English, School of Humanities and Associate Dean Research Performance, College of Arts, Law and Education at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Chief Officer of the Standing Committee on Humanities and Social Sciences (SC-HASS) within the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).
  • Anne Hardy, Ph. D.– Associate Professor and Associate Head of Research, School of Social Science at University of Tasmania, Australia
  • Hanne Nielsen, Ph. D – Lecturer in Antarctic Law and Governance at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Founder of the SC-HASS Tourism Action Group (Ant-TAG)
  • Patrick Maher, Ph. D. – Dean of Teaching, Professor of Physical and Health Education at Nipissing University, Canada. Founder and current Chair of International Polar Tourism Research Network (IPTRN)
  • Christy Hehir, Ph. D. – Lecturer within the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at University of Surrey
  • Miranda Cornelisse, Ph. D. – Senior researcher at Research Centre Business Innovation, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

The team employs four different scenario planning approaches to acquire insights:

  1. The most likely future scenario (‘probable future’ or ‘baseline scenario’).
  2. Diverse potential future scenarios (‘possible futures’ or environmental scenarios).
  3. A desired future (‘desirable future’ or a target scenario).
  4. A set of ‘what if…’ scenarios to identify risks (‘plausible scenarios’).

These future visions of tourism serve as a foundation to understand the potential impact. Subsequently, we outline the necessary actions and explore potential future paths to shape the desired future.


The project provides tools such as future scenarios, adaptation pathways, and a monitoring system to detect signals of change. These enable both public and private entities to make informed and resilient decisions regarding the future of tourism in Antarctica. The focus is on preserving values and qualities, with the aim of obtaining a ‘social license’ for tourist activities on the continent.

This research project runs from November 2022 till October 2025

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