Tag Archives: tourism

RELAPSE: Norway postpones final ‘reopening’ stage yet again due to Delta COVID-19 variant as French cruise company cancels its scheduled Svalbard voyages for the rest of the year

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The final stage of the “reopening” of Norway – and further relaxation of restrictions on travelling to Svalbard – is again being postponed due to concerns about the Delta strain of COVID-19, with the Aug. 1 target date now pushed until at least mid-August, officials said Wednesday.

RISING TIDE SOAKS ALL BOATS: 30 percent hike in Longyearbyen’s port fees necessary to cover costs, city says; some local and smaller mariners in particular feel swamped

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A 30 percent hike in Longyearbyen’s port fees is causing exactly the wave of controversy one might expect: City officials say it’s necessary to pay for costs (especially after reducing many municipal fees last year to help locals suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic), while boat owners say the sudden hike a horrible burden due to the ongoing virus-caused economic crisis and a series of port fee hikes the past several years.

GREEN MEANS GO: Norway matches EU rules, allows vaccinated travellers and those in ‘green’ countries to enter without quarantine as of Monday – but ‘full opening’ stage delayed

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Travellers from 23 European countries can enter Norway without quarantine requirements as of Monday, although a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours is still required to enter Svalbard. However, the government also announced it is delaying a “full opening” at least until the end of July due to concerns Delta coronavirus variant.

Tourists from outside the EU/EEA are still banned from entering, regardless of vaccination status. Also, some of the “green” countries, including Sweden and Denmark, have regions where higher-level restrictions remain in effect.

A BLESSED SUNDAY FOR TRAVELERS AS COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS EASED: No virus test for vaccinated people going to Svalbard; coastal cruises and charter flights allowed

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Sunday will be a blessed day for those traveling to Svalbard as several COVID-19 restrictions, including a mandatory negative test for the virus within 24 hours of departure, will be eased that day, Norway’s government announced Friday. People who can show proof they are fully vaccinated will be exempt from the test.

In addition, coastal cruises will be allowed “on certain conditions” – including up to 2,000 people on large ships if all are vaccinated – and charter flights from the mainland will be able to land in Svalbard.

40M KR. TO HELP 27 COMPANIES, 300 EMPLOYEES: Nearly all eligible applicants share newest round of emergency grants for local tourism businesses hurt by COVID-19 pandemic

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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.

90 PERCENT OF NORMAL: Guest lodging in Svalbard can be nearly full, up from 60-70 percent, as COVID-19 recovery continues; some rooms still kept vacant in case of quarantine

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Hotels and other guest lodging in Svalbard can now be booked to 90 percent capacity, up from the current limit of 60 to 70 percent, as widespread vaccinations are helping the community recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Norway’s government announced Friday.

BOOZE ON FRIDAY, LOCAL VACCINES FOR ALL IN MAY: Svalbard gets some relief from COVID-19 restrictions as part of government’s ‘normalcy’ plan, even as mainland sees setbacks

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It will again be possible to get a drink as of Friday – until 10 p.m. as long as you’re ordering food – and those inclined to partake in Svalbard may want to toast the fact all adult residents can now schedule appointments for vaccinations, while those on the mainland are facing a delay of up to three months.

FRIENDLY WARNING: New avalanche/weather information board for travellers, automatic SMS critical alerts to everyone in Svalbard regardless of residency offered by UNIS and city

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Photo by Maria Philippa Rossi/UNIS

Getting important and possibly lifesaving alerts about things like high avalanche risk is now considerably easier thanks to high-profile avalanche/weather information station at the edge of Longyearbyen leading to Adventdalen, plus the automating of urgent SMS alerts to everyone in Svalbard even if they’re not registered residents.

MEGA MERGER: Store Norske buys Hurtigruten Svalbard’s properties, agrees to 30-year joint tourism operation

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Store Norske, in a significant step toward transitioning to new industries beyond coal mining, announced Monday it is buying all of the properties of Hurtigruten Svalbard – the archipelago’s largest tour company – and the two companies are entering into a 30-year operations agreement.

SAME SAME, BUT DIFFERENT: Barentsburg and Pyramiden avoid layoffs and mining remains strong, but transit is harder and no one is vaccinated as they share Svalbard’s COVID-19 struggles

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Photo by Alena Kutsenko

There’s no layoffs (although hours and seasonal hires are being cut), but travel to/from their home countries of Russia and Ukraine is even more of a hassle than for their neighbors from mainland Norway. The economic situation is also somewhat better because they’re maintaining significant coal mining activity, but nobody’s been vaccinated yet.

Call it a classic case of “same same, but different” compared to Longyearbyen as Svalbard’s Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Pyramiden struggle with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and this week’s long list of new restrictions threatening to choke off much of the already subpar the spring and Easter tourism season.