Tag Archives: tourism

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR WEDNESDAY: Harbor predicts no big cruise ships and 75% loss of activity for 2020, city asks locals to participate in health survey and more

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This story will be updated throughout the day. Photo of sign next to that “other” bear sign by Baoqing Du.

Svalbard remains free of officially diagnosed coronavirus cases as of late Wednesday morning, but the city is asking residents to complete a Norwegian Institute of Public Health survey  if they suspect they have or had symptoms associasted with the virus, especially during the past seven days.

Longyearbyen Harbormaster Kjetil Bråten said he is expecting no large cruise ships this season since the companies are cancelling itineraries well in advance and a 75 percent drop in total revenue/activity for 2020 if a normal level of traffic returns by fall.

UP TO 90 PERCENT OF LONGYEARBYEN’S TOURISM EMPLOYEES FACING LAYOFFS? ‘This will have a ripple effect for several years to come,’ Visit Svalbard director tells NRK

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Up to 90 percent of Longyearbyen’s tourism employees are facing layoffs and the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic will likely last for years, Visit Svalbard Director Ronny Strømnes told NRK on Wednesday.

“We see the situation as very dramatic and that this will have a ripple effect for several years to come,” he told the Norwegian news agency.

The assessment occurred the same day Svalbardposten reported Svalbard Adventures, Longyearbyen’s second-largest tour operator, has laid off 85 percent of its employees and one-third of those are ineligible for Norway’s unemployment benefits. Many smaller companies and freelance operators have come to a near or complete halt, if not officially shutting down completely.

‘SURREAL,’ ‘DISAPPOINTING,’ ‘OMINOUS’ – AND ‘WE’LL BE BACK’: Quarantined visitors abruptly rounded up, flown out of Longyearbyen late Sunday night

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Brian Cancemi wasn’t experiencing the Svalbard vacation of his dreams, having spent nearly all of it quarantined in an Airbnb rental during the past several days due to the coronavirus quarantine. But the New York resident was content to spend one last night before departing on a flight booked for Monday afternoon, only to get yet another in a series of jolts hitting him and virtually everyone else everywhere in an infinite variety of ways.

“At 8:30 p.m. I checked my e-mail and it said I had to pack immediately and leave at 10 p.m.,” he said standing in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel a few minutes before the bus departed at the announced time.

GUEST COLUMN: ‘Shutting down the world for two weeks is a good step…(but) please companies in town…maybe there are other possibilities than just to fire people’

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(Editor’s note: The following is an essay posted by Sylvia Gross, a Longyearbyen tourism employee, on her Facebook page Saturday afternoon. It is being republished here with minor style edits with her permission.)

I would like to take you on a small thought experiment regarding tourism in Svalbard.

As there is not much we can do anyway, many of us lost their job already or are about to lose it, and many companies and things in town are closed anyway, we maybe have the time for this now.

BREAKING – TRAVELLERS FROM NON-NORDIC COUNTRIES BANNED, PLAN TO SEND THOSE HERE HOME: Justice ministry OKs tougher Svalbard policy; affects first passengers Friday

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All people arriving in Norway from non-Nordic countries are prohibited to travel to Svalbard while strict coronavirus restrictions are in effect, Svalbardposten reported Friday. The restriction, following a meeting by The Governor of Svalbard with Norway’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security, was prompted by concerns Svalbard doesn’t have the capability of hosting such tourists for a mandatory 14-day period. Plans are also now being made to send such visitors who’ve arrived since Feb. 27 (when the quarantine retroactively applies to) back home.

A text message sent by Longyearbyen’s emergency preparedness advisor Friday afternoon states the ban applies to everyone – tourists and permanent residents – although there was immense confusion early on about specifics of the policy. Comments posted on social media shortly after the ban was announced stated locals trying to return from trips to Oslo were being denied if they didn’t hold Norwegian passports.

LONGYEARBYEN SEEKS HALT OF INCOMING TOURISTS: Mayor says Svalbard not equipped for quarantine of visitors from non-Nordic countries; asks Norwegian government for ban

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Longyearbyen is requesting the Norwegian government ban tourists from non-Nordic countries from arriving in Svalbard during a mandatory 14-day quarantine enacted Thursday due to the coronavirus, stating the isolated archipelago is not adequately able to accommodate them.

SVALBARD BUSINESSES HARDEST HIT BY CORONAVIRUS: 38 percent of companies report lower demand or cancellations, compared to 21 percent for all of Norway, NHO reports

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Svalbard is already suffering the worst effects of the coronavirus – even though there aren’t any officially diagnosed cases, as no positive tests are reported so far among the first people quarantined locally – as The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) reports businesses in the archipelago are being hit the hardest economically of any region in Norway.

‘YOUR PLANE TRAVEL DESTROYS POLAR BEAR HABITAT’: Flying to/from Svalbard melts about 3 sq. m. of ice, study suggests

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Folks who criticize as hypocritical all those scientists and tourists flying to Svalbard to see the pristine environment and effects of climate change have a new scientific number of their own to cite – each round-trip flight emits enough CO2 to melt about three square meters of the sea ice that is vital for polar bears and other Arctic wildlife.

BETTER GUIDES AND FEWER TOURISTS? Norway’s government seeks certification requirements for guides, arguing for safety and protection even if it means fewer visitors

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Requirements for guides in Svalbard to be certified to further a goal of safer and more environmentally sustainable tourism are being drafted Norway’s government, with the acknowledgement “this may lead to fewer tourists choosing Svalbard.”

But while the general objectives of the regulations were released Tuesday, the specifics – including whether they’ll address a multitude of concerns raised by guides and some others in the industry including labor workshift, safety, wage and other alleged unfair practices – remain to be seen.

POLITICIANS TARGET TOTS AND TOURISTS: Visitor tax, private kindergarten among priorities for new city council majority

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A tax on tourists, separating the harbor from other local government operations and allowing privately operated kindergartens are among the proposals in a platform drafted by the new, more conservative majority of the Longyearbyen Community Council as it officially took office Monday.