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About the PTGA


The PTGA is a non-profit professional association that provides external performance testing and qualifications to guides who operate in the polar regions. Established and run by some of the most experienced and respected guides in the polar tourism industry, the PTGA also provides its community of guides with a range of resources for continually developing polar guiding skills, as well as a framework and expertise to enable operators to establish their own in-house training and assessment programmes.

Why should visitors to the polar regions choose a PTGA Guide or PTGA Accredited Provider? MORE…


The PTGA meets the international standard for Adventure Tourism Leaders and Guides (ISO 21102:2018). This defines the minimum requirements for safety management systems and communication to participants, as well as the competency of leaders and guides through their skills and knowledge of attitudes and attributes. The standard also acknowledges that the PTGA has systems and checks in place to regularly review and update its own systems and processes in order to remain current. Any leader, guide or operator who operates according to the PTGA’s systems and standards is therefore also compliant to the ISO standard. We are the first provider in the polar industry to achieve an ISO standard for our standards and assessment processes.


By definition the polar regions consist of the ice-covered Arctic Ocean and surrounding land, which includes:

– all of Greenland and Spitsbergen, the northern parts of Alaska, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Russia
– South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the New Zealand and Australian sub-Antarctic islands and the entire continent of Antarctica.

In addition, many of our qualifications and the skills that we help guides to develop are also highly relevant to guiding in non-polar areas.


The PTGA Qualifications Framework provides a pathway, through its individual qualifications, to develop the skills to become a fully qualified Polar Guide, Senior Polar Guide or PTGA Assessor. Each qualification must be revalidated every four years, ensuring that skills are maintained and continually developed.

Although many of the core competencies that are relevant to polar guiding are obvious and training pathways for these may be linear, others are more nuanced and require an untestable level of emotional intelligence to guarantee proficiency – something that cannot be delivered through simple training courses. The PTGA framework acknowledges and addresses this, and PTGA assessors are trained to measure this during the accreditation process.


Professionalism in guiding is key to the PTGA. Our guides must adhere to the PTGA Code of Conduct, environmental ethos, and concept of professionalism, and understand how these fit into the broader culture of polar guiding, the organizations they work for, as well as where these concepts come from and why they exist. This is of critical importance not only to those who visit the polar regions and the organisations that operate there, but also to conserving the polar environment. As larger numbers of people visit the polar regions, and as climate change affects the polar environment, the professionalism of the polar guide will become increasingly important.


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


  • 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 PTGA Qualifications that provide a working framework and minimum standard of operation for the key skills required by Polar Guides.
  • Develop polar gateway location training programs and assessments in PTGA 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 organizations 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 member’s skills remain valid through revalidation of qualifications and continual professional development.
  • Promote consistency in guiding skills and professionalism across the polar tourism industry.




Read more about our PTGA Qualifications here and for information on training and assessment, go here.