Cordova Chamber awarded tourism grant

The Cordova Chamber of Commerce announced last week that it has received funding to launch regenerative tourism initiatives, which aim to give back more to people and places than it takes by centering community and ecosystem needs first, and offsetting the potential harms of tourism.

Out of 82 applicants, 14 projects across nine countries were selected to receive funding from the Hurtigruten Foundation. The nonprofit foundation is the charitable arm of the Hurtigruten Group — a global, sustainable, adventure travel cruise and ferry service.

The chamber was awarded over $7,000, and Executive Director of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce Cathy Renfeldt told The Cordova Times they’ll know the full amount when the funds are transferred into the chamber’s account.

According to the press release shared on June 12, the funds will be allocated toward a six-week Regenerative Tourism Impact Studio that will provide support to local entrepreneurs, organizations and community groups developing visitor opportunities for promoting cultural revitalization, environmental restoration, and local spending.

“We’re excited to work with Regenerative Tourism experts from Hawai’i to launch this new program, which will be the first of its kind in Alaska, and will include cultural and environmental training and mentorship as well as business plan and tour offering development,” Renfeldt said in the release. “Not only will this increase capacity for fun, meaningful experiences in Cordova, it also has the ability to provide steady funding mechanisms for important work that protects the local ecosystem and enhances quality of life for residents.”

Since 2015 the Hurtigruten Foundation has supported over 80 projects in 18 different countries. Their contributions have totaled over 5.8 million Norwegian krone, which is the equivalent of more than $540,000. The mission of the foundation is to fight climate change, strengthen local communities and combat unsustainable mass tourism. The foundation provides grants and scientific support for community initiatives in conservation and research programs. Past projects that the foundation has supported include researching plastic ingestions by migrant birds on Alaska’s Copper River Delta, protecting coral reefs in Panama, and protecting nesting turtles in the Cape Verde Island.

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“This year, we received a record number of grant applications, and ultimately selected 14 projects that will protect endangered species, battle marine litter, and support local communities in the areas Hurtigruten Group operates. We are honored to work with organizations at the forefront of protecting our planet,” said Henrik A. Lund, managing director of the Hurtigruten Foundation, in the release.

This year marked the largest amount of money ever distributed in a single round. The foundation contributed more than 1 million Norwegian krone, or just more than $93,000, in part due to a new fundraising campaign where participants camped in Antarctica. All of the proceeds raised by the camping campaign were donated to the Foundation.

Including the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, other grant recipients included the Association of Greenlandic Children, Falklands Conservation, Happywhale, Kommuneqarfik Semersooq, Mariuxi Prieto Pino, Oxen Expedition Engagement Network, Skálanes Nature and Heritage Centre, Tarevoktere, The Kon-Tiki Museum, Thor Heyerdahl’s Research Foundation, The University Centre in Svalbard, Universidad de los Andes, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, and the Wild Lab Projects.

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