Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Nov. 26, 2019


Airbnb rentals are down somewhat this year as a new law restricting rentals takes effect in about a month, a dog has to be killed after being injured by a polar bear at the Polish Polar Station at Hornsund and The University Centre in Svalbard finally has a list of 18 candidates to be the next director after the deadline is delayed twice. Airbnb rentals in Longyearbyen down somewhat as new restrictions begin Jan. 1
Airbnb rentals in Longyearbyen, seen as a contributor to a critical housing shortage the past few years, dropped by one-sixth during the past year, which Visit Svalbard Director Ronny Strømnes said he believes is due to a new law effective as of next Jan. 1 limiting long-term stays and total annual usage. There were about 4,000 overnight rentals from January through October of this year, compared to 4,800 for the same period the previous year. The law approved this spring states landlords cannot rent for more than 90 days in one year and for no more than 30 consecutive days. The 31 units currently listed for rent is down from the 35 available a year ago. But 13 homes have been rented more than half of the days from January to October – meaning more than 150 days – which will not be allowed when the new law takes effect.

Dog injured in polar bear attack at Hornsund has to be killed; bear makes return visit
A dog injured during a polar bear encounter early Monday at the Polish Polar Station at Hornsund had to be killed due to the severity of its injuries, and The Governor of Svalbard sent one of its rescue helicopters to chase the bear away when it made a return visit that evening. There have been multiple bear visits to the station during the past week, although staff are uncertain if they are all by the same animal. The dog that was attacked was killed a few hours later when a veterinarian brought to the station could not adequately treat the bite injuries inflicted by the bear. The governor’s helicopter chased the bear about two kilometers east of the station when it returned during the evening.

18 apply to be next UNIS leader, after application deadline gets long extension
It took three deadlines and an adjustment of the job description, but a total of 18 people are now official applicants to be the next director of The University Centre in Svalbard. The position was originally advertised on Aug. 10 with a Sept. 1 deadline, but the board of directors decided to seek a broader scope of applicants. The job description was revised and deadline pushed back to Oct. 25, after which is was delayed again until Nov. 20. UNIS hoped to have a new director to replace departing current leader Harald Ellingsen by Jan. 1, but since that won’t happen Børge Damsgård, head of the Arctic Biology department, has been named acting director as of that date. He is also among the applicants being considered for the permanent position.