Our Sustainability Focus - Ecotourism
Ecotourism is a style of tourism that emphasizes engagement with nature while minimizing the impacts associated with travel both to the environment and local residents. To be considered ecotourism it is not enough to just visit nature, it must be done respectfully, minimizing impact, and in a way that can actually benefit nature and host communities.
Alaska receives well over a million visitors a year. More than twice the population of the entire state!
Tourism is now the one of the largest income generators for Alaska and a very important aspect of the Alaskan economy, an excellent alternative to non sustainable resource extractive industries.
In the many years that I have led outdoor adventure tours in Alaska, I have seen the signs of increasing impact from outdoor recreation in the state, including from so called “eco tour” recreation providers. I have seen the development of muddy scars across the fragile tundra left by tour groups; trash cans full of recyclables at lodges and campgrounds, and sometimes an overall disregard for the pristine nature that makes Alaska unique and special.
Impacted landfills, impaired wildlife behavior, and sustainable economic development are a just few of the issues that Alaskans face as tourist numbers continue to grow. This impact threatens to jeopardize the very nature of what makes travel in Alaska so special.
Alaska Outdoors is committed to the health of Alaska and the support of low impact outdoor recreation and ecotourism.
We believe that the following actions are smart and important business practices and have incorporated them into our business model.
Our small group camping tours are inherently less impacting than other tour offerings
By traveling in small groups and staying at established campgrounds, we consume less water, electricity and fuel than if we were staying at lodges or participating on cruise-based trips. We are better able to monitor our environmental impact and to contribute to the local economy in a more direct and meaningful way.
We recycle both in the field and at our base camp.
Minimizing the use of excessive packaging
Efforts are made to purchase products that minimize packaging and utilize recycled content, both for our trips and in the daily operations of the business.
Following Leave No Trace minimum impact camping guidelines
Alaska Outdoors is a member of Leave No Trace and all guides are certified in Leave No Trace principles. Learn more about the principles of Leave No Trace.
Using locally produced products whenever available
Including locally grown organic produce, thus supporting farmers in the region and reducing the amount of produce that we import from outside of the state.
Using and encouraging the use of locally owned and operated businesses
We have excellent relationships with locally owned businesses and partner with them for services and optional activities and encourage their use before and after our tours. We are a member of Buy Alaska, an organization that matches local buyers with sellers. This network of more than 6,000 members facilitates our purchase of locally-produced products and services for use on our tours.
Employing local workers whenever possible
Not all of our employees are “local” Alaskans. However, we do make a concerted effort to hire locals and preference is given to resident Alaskans.
We are a member of the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association
The Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association (AWRTA) is a members-driven trade association formed to be a collective voice for wilderness-dependent businesses. They advocate for the sustainability of Alaska's natural and cultural resources, responsible tourism and tourism planning for communities. AWRTA members abide by the voluntary Ecotourism Guidelines adopted by the membership in 1995.
These are a few of the efforts that we have undertaken to minimize the impacts of our business operations and to contribute to the long-term viability of adventure tourism and ecotourism in Alaska and the overall health of Alaska and its economy.
There are a lot of things that we do to ensure that your trip to Alaska is as enjoyable and as low impact as possible: low group numbers (among the very lowest in the industry), smartly organized itineraries lead by experienced guides, top of the line equipment, and intimate knowledge of the areas we visit are just a few. We know how vitally important your vacation is to you and will go out of our way to ensure that your experience is enriching, seamless, and fun!
And we will do so in a manner that greatly reduces our negative impact on the environment and people that you are here to experience.
We hope to see you in Alaska and please contact us with any questions.
-Mark and the Alaska Outdoors team
“I would rate your guide a ten. He is awesome. He worked so hard to spot animals, arrange outings, plan hikes, cook food that we liked, etc. He is a very sensitive person who was able to spot when one of us was having difficulties and he went out of his way to make us smile. He also went well above the call of duty to make our trip special. For example, when we had an unexpectedly warm day in Valdez, he planned a picnic dinner on the wharf, complete with cut flowers for the table, fajitas and blueberries flambé!”
“This trip has been a great experience. Your itinerary and places we stopped to camp were just amazing. This trip is definitely in my top 3!”
“We would rate our experience on this trip a 10. We had a wonderful time and would recommend your company to others. We did a week of cruising the week before we camped with you. We felt that we actually "experienced" Alaska on the camping portion of our vacation. Thanks for a great vacation!”