Dr. Jessica Aquino is Head of the Tourism Department of the Icelandic Seal Center since 2016. Her position is a co-operation between Hólar University College and the Icelandic Seal Center.
Jessica’ research interests are in tourism experience from the perspective of residents and tourist; the potential contribution that tourism has on community development and responsible management of natural areas, and sustainable tourism and responsible practices of Arctic coastal communities and seascapes. She is a co-founding member of a working research group titled, Responsible Tourism in Arctic Seascapes (ReSea). This working research group focuses on studying “How can tourism be performed responsibly in Arctic seascapes?”
The Tourism Research Department at the Icelandic Seal Center focuses its efforts on research in the areas of nature-based tourism and recreation, environmental education, wildlife tourism management, sustainable tourism in Arctic coastal communities and responsible tourism practices both in Iceland and internationally. Responsible tourism practices require interdisciplinary research and inter-organizational knowledge that builds a framework to addresses the need for human-wildlife interactions research in Arctic settings. Projects developed through the Tourism Research Department blends methodologies from both social and natural sciences research and theory. We have a long history working collaboratively both nationally and internationally which is represented in our list of projects below. Our department puts an emphasis on the practical implications of research towards responsible tourism and recreation development and management. Working closely with other organizations we put theory into practice by establishing programs that focus on the quality of life and well-being of the community.
Working in conjunction with Hólar University College, the Icelandic Seal Center strives to disseminate knowledge in several ways.
- Working with local stakeholders in creating community-based tourism projects.
- Working closely with other academics and practitioners to train new professionals who are creative and entrepreneurial.
- Create network training and project development events such as summer schools, training and informative meetings, and workshops.
- Interpretive information through museum displays and brochures.
- Consultation for curriculum and programme development for formal and informal education.
List of Projects
- The Wild north project
- Engaging children with the cultural value of seals
- Húnaþing vestra information center
- Walking trail
- Bird trail in the North west
- Tourism packages in Húnaþing vestra
Responsible Tourism in Arctic Seascapes (ReSea)
In 2016, with combined efforts between the Icelandic Seal Center, Hólar University College, the Icelandic Tourism Research Center, and the Arctic University of Norway (Tromsø) we were awarded a grant titled, Cooperation in the Field of Arctic Studies Between Iceland and Norway. This was a 12-month grant divided between mobility and preparatory work.
Since 2016, a working research group was established titled, Responsible Tourism in Arctic Seascapes (ReSea) and has grown to include other national and international partner organizations both in academic and the industry in Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Greenland, and Australia.
ReSea’s Overarching research theme is Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Practices of Arctic Coastal Communities and Seascapes, and focuses on three major areas:
- Arctic coastal ecosystems (marine and terrestrial)
- Sustainable tourism
- Responsible tourism practices
ReSea is directed by Jessica Faustini Aquino, PhD and co-directed with Auður H. Ingólfsdóttir, PhD.