Two polar associations have developed standards for field staff working on expedition cruise vessels in polar regions. The Association of Arctic Expeditions Operators, AECO, and the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators, IAATO, agreed on guidelines that have been adopted as industry standards.
According to Frigg Jørgensen, executive director of AECO, the new standards will help ensure a high level of competency among polar field staff in the future. The guidelines cover areas such as safety, environmental considerations, cultural sensitivity and community engagement.
“Field staff are some of the most important decision-makers in our industry. They are on the frontline of operations where important decisions are made a wide range of areas, and they deal directly with guests,” Jørgensen said.
“AECO’s members put great emphasis on training their guides and expedition leaders to deal with both day-to-day tasks as well as unplanned situations that may occur. The AECO and IAATO Field Staff Standards build on these existing training practices among members and establishes minimum requirements for staff qualifications. Adopting these recommended standards will benefit the cruise industry, the areas visited and the guests on board, as well as the field staff.”
The standards cover areas such as first aid, crisis management, marine radio, navigation, tender boat driving, firearms, polar bear safety and onboard ship safety. The intention is not to design a set of courses, operated and hosted by AECO or IAATO, but to set minimum standards which can be achieved through existing or new courses and training.