What is the PTGA?


The PTGA is a US federally recognized 501(c)6 non-profit Professional Industry Association (ISO 21102: 2018 compliant) servicing the skills competency and measurement needs of polar tourism and expedition cruise operators, outfitters, field staff and polar guides across all platforms of polar guiding and tourism for the benefit of all stakeholders and the environments we represent.

By definition the polar regions consist of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean and surrounding land, including all of Greenland and Spitsbergen, the northern parts of Alaska, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Russia in the northern polar region and Sth Georgia and the Sth Sandwich Islands, the NZ and Australian sub Antarctic islands and the entire continent of Antarctica in the southern region.

We take into account ‘polar-like’ conditions in other parts of the world when considering pre-requisite experience for some of our Polar Qualifications.

Any professional represented by the PTGA will have contractually embraced our Qualifications Framework, Code of Conduct, environmental ethos, and concept of professionalism. They will understand how these fit not only into the broader culture of polar guiding and the organizations they work for, but also where these concepts come from, why they exist and where continued development can be obtained. A contemporary guide needs to build, or arrive with, a range of core competencies relevant to polar guiding. Some of these are obvious and training pathways are linear, others are more nuanced and require an untestable level of emotional intelligence and a simple training course can’t guarantee proficiency.

The PTGA is here to facilitate this development because the modern polar guide exemplifies a service role of critical importance to operators and the environment. As more and more people buy experiences that can, through fact and observation, explain the rapidly changing world around them and give meaning to their lives and offer possibilities to help, Polar Guides are involved at every step of this process. They provide valuable and interesting information, stories about the landscapes and wildlife, they provide safety management for each experience, and ultimately not only safeguard a company’s reputation but can enhance the client experience to a transformational level.


To provide an internationally recognized process of performance testing and qualification for guides across all platforms of polar guiding. 


  • To create a Contemporary Profession
  • To provide an Internationally Recognized Qualifications Framework
  • To develop Contemporary Performance Examinations and Assessment Practices
  • To improve Training Standards used in the field 


  • Foster professional performance tested standards of operation across all platforms of polar guiding.
  • Role-model, encourage and support environmentally sustainable practices in polar guiding and tourism.
  • Create Polar Qualifications that provide a working framework and minimum standard of operation for the key skills required by Polar Guides.
  • Develop polar gate-way location training programs and assessments in Polar Qualifications.
  • Work with companies, institutes, communities and individuals to find the most cost effective way to incorporate the PTGA framework into their operation.
  • Affiliate with other international frameworks, qualifications and organisations to provide the most relevant assessment scheme possible.
  • Disseminate current and relevant field information.
  • Provide added value through a number of financially beneficial deals available to the membership.
  • Develop polar guiding into a recognized profession through our commitment to training, robust standards, continual professional development (CPD), industry best practice and code of conduct.
  • Be responsible for promoting the highest standards of professionalism and polar guiding skills so that our clients and peers enjoy the best possible experience while in our care.
  • Ensure that members skills remain valid through revalidation of qualifications and continual professional development.