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Algonquin College News

Iceland's Ambassador Visits Pembroke Campus

March 19, 2019
Algonquin College’s Outdoor Adventure program has caught the attention of the island nation of Iceland. The country’s Ambassador to Canada, his Excellency, Pétur Ásgeirsson, recently spoke with students in the program about the Island, its growing adventure tourism sector, and the long relationship that the Nordic nation has had with Canada.

The Ambassador’s visit was a follow up to an applied research project a year and a half ago that saw five Outdoor Adventure students and two program faculty test fat biking as a sustainable way to explore Iceland. The natural beauty of the island has resulted in an explosion of tourism traffic in recent years as people flock to see its amazing natural beauty including waterfalls, volcanoes and hot springs, but the increased number of people on the island has created a lot of challenges.

More vehicular traffic is damaging the country’s eco-system, placing a lot of stress on its fragile environment. The students were looking for a way to allow people to sightsee without using motorized vehicles and quickly discovered that using the big tired bicycles was very effective.

The project was led by Outdoor Adventure teacher, Chris Melmoth, who was surprised when he  returned to Canada to be contacted by the Ambassador to learn about the fat biking expedition.  “He was really keen to learn more about our research and suggested he would like to meet with the students.  It’s really exciting to have him visit our campus and students, and it’s our hope that this will lead to more collaboration between the program and Iceland’s tourism industry,” adds Melmoth.

Iceland is a country of approximately 350,000 people. According to the Icelandic Tourist Board, the number of overnight stays by foreign visitors topped 2.24-million in 2017.