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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.

Our mission is to create an internationally recognized process of performance testing with resultant qualifications relevant to guides and stakeholders across all platforms of polar guiding.

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 and relevant to the needs of the polar tourism industry.

Any guide or operator who operates according to the PTGA’s systems and standards is compliant with our ISO standard. We are the first provider in the polar industry to achieve an ISO standard for our standards and assessment processes.



Our definition of locations where polar guiding actively occurs include:

Northern Hemisphere –  the ice-covered Arctic Ocean and surrounding polar-like land. This includes all of Greenland, the Svalbard Archipelago, and the northern parts of Alaska, Canada, Norway, Iceland, and Russia.

Southern Hemisphere – the entire continent of Antarctica and its associated islands: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the New Zealand and Australian sub-Antarctic islands.

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. Stay tuned for our developing Expedition Guide awards designed for operations in non-polars environments.


The PTGA Qualifications Framework provides the only industry specific comprehensive pathway for an individual to develop and be examined using the skills and judgement required of a modern Polar Guide or Senior Polar Guide. Each qualification must be revalidated every four years, ensuring that skills are maintained and continually developed.

Many of our core competencies are obvious and development pathways can be linear and simple. Others are more nuanced and require high levels of judgment, situational awareness and emotional intelligence to ensure proficiency. The PTGA framework acknowledges and addresses this, and PTGA assessors are trained to measure this during the examination process. This depth of investigation places our program above a simple training or attendance-only course. PTGA Assessors are experienced senior polar guides who have personal attributes
and values that merge with our sophisticated and committing Assessor Training program.


Professionalism in guiding is key to the PTGA. Our guides must adhere to the PTGA Code of Conduct, and contemporary professionalism foundations which include continual professional development, environmental guardianship, cultural awareness and sensitivity, inclusion and acceptance.

This conduct and mindset has critical importance in our rapidly changing world to primarily ensure guest safety but also to link and interpret the undeniable and manifest environmental, cultural and political changes that now impact every part of polar tourism operations.


Our mission is to create an internationally recognized process of performance testing with resultant qualifications relevant to guides and stakeholders 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.