Latest buzz in Arctic tourism is a floating city
«People want to visit new places and experience something different,» says Aziz Merchant. He is Executive Director of the Keppel Offshore & Marine Technology Centre, a unit under the powerful Keppel Group, and participated in this weeks Arctic Frontiers in Tromsø, Norway.
«From the Asian perspective, tourists want new challenges, they want to explore areas that has not been explored before. Like with space tourism,» Merchant said in an address delivered at the conference.
It might sound as sheer and far-fetched fantasy.
But Merchant is absolutely serious. And he has the backing of one of the biggest marine engineering, property and investments companies in the world. The Singapore-based Keppel Corporation has more than 30 thousand employees working in a number of powerful subsidiary companies. Among them is the Keppel Offshore and Marine, the yard and ship design company that is world renown for its building of oil and gas rigs and platforms.
Over the last years, the company has also built a series of top ice-class vessels.
According to Merchant, the building of a floating Arctic hub will enable the tourism industry to attract big number of people to the high Arctic without affecting vulnerable local settlements and indigenous peoples. It will be environmentally friendly, he argues, because it «minimises the impact on the fragile Arctic.»