Build the walls! (And they’ll pay for it): Hurtigruten Svalbard planning 200M in hotel, recreation facility upgrades

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Svalbard’s largest tourism company, which has already upgraded its main hotels and added new lodging during the past few years, is now planning a record 200-million-kroner expansion and upgrade of its facilities in anticipation of a major increase in tourism in Longyearbyen in the near future.

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A planned upgrade of a lounge area at Spitsbergen Hotel is shown in an artist’s rendition. The hotel will also be renamed Funken Lodge, thereby giving officially giving it a name that has been in popular use for years. Illustration courtesy of Hurtigruten Svalbard.

“This is the largest tourism investment ever in Svalbard,” Hurtigruten Svalbard Managing Director Daniel Skjeldam said in a prepared statement. “For Hurtigruten it is an investment in the future. It will not offer any short-term profit. But it will help to elevate quality and ensure sustainable growth of tourism in Svalbard.”

The planned projects include:

• Radisson Polar Blu Hotel: Up to 100 new rooms and suites, a complete overall of the lobby and restaurant areas, a new conference center, and new bar and lounge areas.

• Spitsbergen Hotel (a.k.a. Funken): Will be renamed Funken Lodge and feature new rooms, and a renovated restaurant and public areas.

• Ingeniør G. Paulsen: The center for snowmobile and other recreational activities will be rennovated inside and out with a more modern design and facilities.

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A planned upgrade to Ingeniør G Paulsen will renovate both the interior and exterior. Illustration courtesy of Hurtigruten Svalbard.

“Hurtigruten’s commitment will also ensure local value creation, local jobs and continued Norwegian activity in Svalbard,” Skjeldam said. “At the same time, we are agreeing to preserve valuable polar competence skills that Norway has built up for generations.”

Government and business leaders have stated they want to double tourism revenue – which may mean tripling the number of visitors – in Svalbard to help replace lost coal mining jobs. Mining jobs accounted for about 40 percent of Longyearbyen’s workforce about a decade ago, with tourism accounting for 15 percent, but those numbers essentially switched places during the past year as most major mining operations were put on hold.

One of the mines, Svea, is now being used as a tourist site by Svea Svalbard, a joint venture formed last fall by Hurtigruten and Store Norske that hopes to eventually offer overnight stays and a full range of recreational activities.

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