HALF OF NORMAL TOURISM = TWICE AS NICE NOW: Average of 226 overnight visits in Svalbard this week is highest since September; numbers rise rapidly after COVID-19 test setback

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Chart by Visit Svalbard

An average of 226 overnight visitors are expected this week in Svalbard which, while scant in comparison to the 537 visitors in 2019 and 486 in 2020, is nonetheless the highest average since last September, according to Visit Svalbard.

The highest density of visitors is expected this weekend, according to Svalbardposten, which first reported the figures. Next week an average of 216 overnight guests is forecast.

The weekly figures have risen dramatically and rapidly – if not consistently – since late January when there were barely more than 50 average overnight visitors. While the end of the dark season at about that time typically coincides with a rapid rise in tourism, a mandatory COVID-19 test for all people traveling to Svalbard imposed by the government at the end of January resulted in a wave of cancellations during the early part of February.

The increasing visitors totals come on a day when Svalbard’s tourism industry is hoping for another major boost in the form of a 40-million-kroner emergency aid package for companies hurt by the pandemic scheduled to be considered by Parliament after the Finance Committee unanimously endorsed it late last week.