SHOCKER – ‘NORMAL’ NEWS! Svalbard again top ‘TV auction’ donor as per-person average of 397 kr. and 1M kr. total similar to past years, despite COVID-19 impairments

SHOCKER – ‘NORMAL’ NEWS! Svalbard again top ‘TV auction’ donor as per-person average of 397 kr. and 1M kr. total similar to past years, despite COVID-19 impairments

It’s such an exceedingly rare ordinary and good bit of “news we report every year” during the current surreal COVID-19 times it’s truly exceptional news indeed: Svalbard is yet again the highest More »

CLOSING SVALBARD’S ONLY BANK IS A REALLY BIG DEAL: Here’s why impacts are far different than for ‘remote’ mainland communities – and how locals are trying to prevent it

CLOSING SVALBARD’S ONLY BANK IS A REALLY BIG DEAL: Here’s why impacts are far different than for ‘remote’ mainland communities – and how locals are trying to prevent it

The closure of Svalbard’s only bank office will cause considerable difficulties and issues for customers that people won’t suffer on the mainland. But despite overwhelming objections from local leaders, businesses and residents, More »

AT LONG LAST, AN AMBULANCE JET FOR SVALBARD: Originally promised in 2016, Norway’s government finally OKs faster and more capable emergency aircraft operating from Tromsø

AT LONG LAST, AN AMBULANCE JET FOR SVALBARD: Originally promised in 2016, Norway’s government finally OKs faster and more capable emergency aircraft operating from Tromsø

An air ambulance for Svalbard that’s one-third faster, has more room and can fly in more severe weather than the plane currently in use is finally being provided to Tromsø, nearly five More »

BIG HOTEL SALE: Hurtigruten may sell its three lodges and other Svalbard properties, joining Mary Ann’s Polarrigg and Svalbar as notable tourism businesses on the market

BIG HOTEL SALE: Hurtigruten may sell its three lodges and other Svalbard properties, joining Mary Ann’s Polarrigg and Svalbar as notable tourism businesses on the market

Update 2:45 p.m.: Store Norske is among the companies interested in buying Hurtigruten’s local operations, according to reports. Original story: A huge sale at local hotels and other tourism businesses is in More »

FLOOD OF TAXPAYER MONEY: Extra funds for flooded Mine 7, avalanche/flood protection in Longyearbyen and dismantling of Svea/Luckenfjell mines highlight Svalbard priorities

FLOOD OF TAXPAYER MONEY: Extra funds for flooded Mine 7, avalanche/flood protection in Longyearbyen and dismantling of Svea/Luckenfjell mines highlight Svalbard priorities

The Norwegian government’s spending plans for next year are unsurprisingly all the place thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting all concepts of normal (indeed, at some point we’re going to tire of More »

 

SHOCKER – ‘NORMAL’ NEWS! Svalbard again top ‘TV auction’ donor as per-person average of 397 kr. and 1M kr. total similar to past years, despite COVID-19 impairments

auctionoverview

It’s such an exceedingly rare ordinary and good bit of “news we report every year” during the current surreal COVID-19 times it’s truly exceptional news indeed: Svalbard is yet again the highest per-person contributor to a nationwide “TV auction” fundraiser – and the individual and areawide donations are remarkably similar to recent years despite some limitations on activities due to virus-mandated restrictions.

CLOSING SVALBARD’S ONLY BANK IS A REALLY BIG DEAL: Here’s why impacts are far different than for ‘remote’ mainland communities – and how locals are trying to prevent it

bankentrance

The closure of Svalbard’s only bank office will cause considerable difficulties and issues for customers that people won’t suffer on the mainland. But despite overwhelming objections from local leaders, businesses and residents, along with actions such a boycott petition and politicians vowing to seek national help, one cold bottom-line fact remains: it’s a bank and as such is looking without emotion at its bottom line.

AT LONG LAST, AN AMBULANCE JET FOR SVALBARD: Originally promised in 2016, Norway’s government finally OKs faster and more capable emergency aircraft operating from Tromsø

airambulance

An air ambulance for Svalbard that’s one-third faster, has more room and can fly in more severe weather than the plane currently in use is finally being provided to Tromsø, nearly five years after Norway promised the northern city such an aircraft, officials said this week.

BIG HOTEL SALE: Hurtigruten may sell its three lodges and other Svalbard properties, joining Mary Ann’s Polarrigg and Svalbar as notable tourism businesses on the market

hoteloutside

Update 2:45 p.m.: Store Norske is among the companies interested in buying Hurtigruten’s local operations, according to reports.

Original story: A huge sale at local hotels and other tourism businesses is in the making as the crippling economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic persist, as Hurtigruten announced Tuesday is it considering selling or entering a partnership for its three hotels and other land-based properties in Svalbard.

The announcement comes as at least two other notable tourism-oriented businesses, Mary Ann’s Polarrigg and Svalbar, are also up for sale. However, plans for those sales were underway before the pandemic and Hurtigruten noted their exploratory efforts “may or may not result in a transaction.”

FLOOD OF TAXPAYER MONEY: Extra funds for flooded Mine 7, avalanche/flood protection in Longyearbyen and dismantling of Svea/Luckenfjell mines highlight Svalbard priorities

budget2021

The Norwegian government’s spending plans for next year are unsurprisingly all the place thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting all concepts of normal (indeed, at some point we’re going to tire of putting that disclaimer in every story).

But in the midst of avalanche of emergency and special allocations, a lot of signs of “normally abnormal” pre-virus times are in the proposed official budget for 2021 unveiled this week, including major allocations to cover losses for Store Norske’s Mine 7 where operations have been halted for months due to climate change-induced flooding, further dismantling of the company’s two largest coal mines, and more avalanche and flood protection measures in Longyearbyen.

FLEA FOR CLEANER PLACES: Annual flea market to benefit national fundraiser, which this year is devoted to reducing ocean trash, taking place this weekend at dorms next to UNIS

auctionpreview2020

It’s not the traditional annual flea market for charity at The University Centre in Svalbard, which was called off due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it’s literally the next-best thing as the event will take place Saturday and Sunday at the student housing building across the street.

DOGGONE IT, WE’RE GONNA HAVE A FOOD FESTIVAL: Sure there’s crowd limits, but fourth annual Smak Svalbard begins w/ free hot dogs, entertainment and local food prep lessons

smak2020intro

Like everything else this year there’s going to be considerable abnormal disruption at the fourth annual Smak Svalbard. In addition to the expected COVID-19 size/precaution measures, almost everything will be happening with an ambiance of massive construction sights/sounds just a few meters away.

But the fact is everyone still needs to eat and just being able to stage the world’s northernmost food festival is something of a triumph given that virtually all other local festivals have been forced to cancel since the pandemic started in March.

And in a sign of how ravenous many locals are to nourish themselves socially and well as calorically, many of the featured events are already sold out.

CHINA BUYING HURTIGRUTEN – LEGIT POSSIBILITY OR NOT? A columnist set off a media firestorm by declaring it a ‘realistic scenario,’ but is it just idle clickbait speculation?

hurtigrutennorthernlights

An analyst snagged national headlines Thursday by suggesting China might buy Hurtigruten in the wake of the company’s COVID-19 scandal in an effort to further the country’s goal of establishing a major presence in Svalbard. Such a presence, along with that of countries like Russia, has for years been among Norway’s top security worries – but is the columnist offering a legitimate scenario or merely clickbait?

On one hand, we’ve been here before with China and large purchases in recent years, and it ended up being it ended up being something of a joke. On the other, another author who’s a foremost expert on Svalbard and Arctic conflicts declares “Hurtigruten will be sold, sooner or later” – although he suggests Russia might be the country more ideally suited to make a Svalbard power play.

PERFECT AND/OR PECULIAR POLAR PUB PURCHASE? Landmark Svalbar put up for sale, gets global attention as the site of a recent polar bear ‘pub crawl’

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Among its many colorful tidbits of the pub’s history is a polar bear really did wander right up to its windows this past winter – and that’s being used as a selling point, for a potential buyer with the right mentality.

Of course, there is the not-so-small factor that business lately has been decimated lately by the COVID-19 pandemic, but that isn’t showing in any of the now-gone-viral global media coverage announcing the landmark Svalbar establishment is now up for sale.

TO THE VISITOR WHO TOOK OUR POLAR BEAR SIGN: Not to sacrifice journalistic impartiality or anything, but you suck

stolenpolarbearsign

So now you’ve got our famous sign countless thousands of people took photos of themselves with as their requisite Svalbard “trophy” shot. What are you going to do with it – hang it on your wall so you can brag to your family and friends about your trophy? (Seems fitting for your judgement and very hopefully not theirs.)