Photo by Visit Svalbard
A total of 27 companies are receiving a total of about 40 million kroner that will ensure employment of about 300 people from the most recent emergency aid package intended to help tourism companies in Svalbard affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Longyearbyen’s Community Council, which evaluated applications and approved the allocations.
The 40 million is the second of two major “packages” of such aid approved by Norway’s Parliament, following a 25 million kroner package whose recipients were selected by the local council earlier this year. Other Svalbard-specific crisis aid has also been awarded since the pandemic began in March of 2020, including for municipal infrastructure performed by local companies, and short-term assistance for foreign residents to cover living and return-to-homeland costs.
The most recent grants approved by the council total 39,465,210 kroner, according to a statement from the council. Thirty companies applied for funding, two were rejected, and of the 27 approved two applicants still need to provide further information and documentation. One application is still awaiting processing.
“The companies that have now been granted commitments from the compensation scheme comprise everything from small companies to large companies within the local tourism industry,” the city’s statement notes, adding “businesses in the tourism industry have suffered various consequences through loss of turnover and large deficits.”
Left out of the grants were several companies with foreign owners who expressed unhappiness at the application requirements, including being at least 34 percent owned by a Norwegian citizen or be a registered company that pays taxes in Svalbard for at least 10 years. A challenge was filed to two Norwegian ministries, but failed to alter the grants awarded.
Overall, local tourism and service industry businesses reported revenue losses of 60 to 70 percent in 2020 compared to a year ago – and the impact for some was nearly 100 percent during the initial months of the pandemic when Svalbard was completely shut to outsiders during what is normally the peak of spring tourism season. According to local and national statistics agencies, Longyearbyen suffered the worst economic consequences of any municipality in Norway during 2020, due largely to extreme measures that kept Svalbard free of officially diagnosed COVID-19 cases.
“The companies’ turnover in 2019 amounts to just over 600 million kroner,” the city noted. “This is a significant share of turnover if it is assumed that the business community in Svalbard has annual sales of more than 2.5 billion kroner.”
Those receiving a share of the 40 million kroner are:
Hurtigruten Svalbard AS: 12,525,627 kr.
Svalbard Adventures AS: 10,161,449 kr.
Basecamp Explorer Spitsbergen AS: 4,775,136 kr.
AECO: 1,814,889 kr.
Green Dog Svalbard AS: 1,573,440 kr.
Mary Anns Polarrigg AS: 1,518,278 kr.
Wildphoto Travel AS: 1,049,982 kr.
Spitzbergen Adventures AS: 1,010,985 kr.
Henningsen Transport & Guiding AS: 721,957 kr.
Poli Arctici AS: 612,529 kr.
Arctic Adventures AS: 552,133 kr.
Svalbard Busservice AS: 510,306 kr.
Store Norske Gruve 3 AS: 433,489 kr.
Svalbard Buss og Taxi AS: 306,810 kr.
Svalbard Villmarkssenter AS: 266,470 kr.
Haugen Pensjonat Svalbard AS: 235,283 kr.
Discover Svalbard AS: 235,560 kr.
North Pole Expedition Museum AS: 214,458 kr.
Gruvelageret AS: DKK 193,401 kr.
Arctic Husky Travelers AS: 177,475 kr.
Better Moments AS: 125,078 kr.
Spitsbergen Outdoor Activities Jørn Dybdal: 121,025 kr.
Gjestehuset 102 AS: 103,800 kr.
Svalbard Wildlife Expedition AS: 94,764 kr.
Svalbard Husky AS: 49,552 kr.
Longyearbyen Taxi: 40,478 kr.