The Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association (AWRTA) is a member-led association that represents more than 300 nature-based tourism businesses, individuals, and organizations in Alaska. AWRTA advocates for the sustainability of Alaska's natural and cultural resources, responsible tourism and tourism planning for communities. Member businesses and partners strive to work with communities to protect and enhance the quality of life, to provide good jobs and business opportunities, and to create strong incentives for protecting Alaska's wildlife, wilderness and special places.
AWRTA believes that tourism is based on "resources held in common." Consequently the process for forming natural resource policies need to be broadly defined as well as broadly inclusive. Therefore, AWRTA's Guiding Alaska Tourism (GAT) strives to disseminate effective tourism planning tools and information to planners, residents, industry officials, and communities through a web site clearinghouse, a workbook, a speaker's bureau, and community presentations.
AWRTA provides two annual awards that recognize and honor individuals and businesses that have made outstanding contributions to conservation efforts to protect Alaska's natural and cultural resources. AWRTA's sister organization, the Alaska Institute for Sustainable Recreation & Tourism (AISRT), a non-profit educational organization, provides supporting research, education, outreach, advocacy, and public policy development affecting the health and integrity of Alaska's natural, cultural, and community resources on which AWRTA members depend.
AWRTA Mission Statement
The Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association (AWRTA) is a members-driven trade association formed to be a collective voice for wilderness-dependent businesses. We advocate for the sustainability of Alaska's natural and cultural resources, responsible tourism and tourism planning for communities.
AWRTA's mission will be accomplished through research, information dissemination, education, outreach, by acting as a responsible tourism watchdog and through public development.
AWRTA Guiding Values and Principles
- We are all part of the ecosystem and are, therefore, responsible for our actions within it. Communities, the state, nature-tourism businesses, including AWRTA members and others, must work together to make sure that travel methods and facilities do not change or alter the natural environment nor have a negative impact on the character and economic well-being of communities.
- By using a responsible ecotourism partner, Alaska's nature tourism businesses can grow and be sustained without significant altering the wilderness resource or negatively affecting the tourist experience.
- Small natural wilderness-dependent, ecotourism businesses can directly benefit local economies and local inhabitants by supporting the economic life of communities without dramatically altering the character of those communities.
- Each community must be responsible for managing tourist levels and the development of a tourism infrastructure that oversees land development and protects cultural heritage.
- Businesses should minimize their effects on the environment in all phases of their operations including daily office practices and operations.
- Businesses must ensure that mangers, staff, and contract employees know and participate in all aspects of that company policy to protect the environment, Native cultures and the character and economic viability of local communities.
- Tourism choices should be shaped by the spirit of appreciation, participation, and sensitivity to the environment and community. Communities must understand the reality that at some point tour groups become too large to be considered "ecotourism" and begin to have a negative impact on wildlife, wild lands, Native cultures, and local communities.