Tag Archives: tourism

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.

RULES VS. RECOMMENDATIONS – HOW MUCH IMPACT? No-travel advisory among headline items in latest COVID-19 measures, but will it alter plans to visit Svalbard for Easter?

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While those in Norway will have to accept the sobering fact they can’t get a drink in a pub for a least the next few weeks, nearly all of the items in a long list of additional COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the government Tuesday are “mere” recommendations.

Since Svalbard is at the peak of spring tourism season with the highly travelled Easter holiday next weekend, a key question is how many on the mainland will choose to comply with non-mandatory advisories making the biggest headlines such as avoiding unnecessary travel? And if they don’t might it result in some of the recommendations becoming rules?

YET EVEN TOUGHER COVID-19 LIMITS THROUGH EASTER: Ban serving alcohol, smaller public gatherings, stricter quarantines as of Thurs.; recommendations much stricter w/ eye on travel

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A long list of new COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations – including a nationwide ban on serving alcohol in restaurants and pubs and a major reduction in the size of public gatherings – will be in effect starting Thursday, Norway’s government announced late Tuesday.

The new preventative measures, in effect until at least April 12, are the latest of several incremental expansions due to a resurgence of COVID-19 nationally and globally due largely to mutated strains. Central government officials acknowledged the newest measures are likely to severely disrupt spring and Easter holiday plans, but concerns about travel and communal gatherings during that time is largely the reason for the extra enforcement.

FIRST MASS LOCAL VACCINATION; TOURISTS QUARANTINED: 200 residents ages 56-64 to get COVID-19 shots Wednesday; several visitors confined due to contact w/ mainland case

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Both the best and worst expectations of many locals for the COVID-19 pandemic this spring are being realized this week as about 200 residents ages 56-64 are scheduled to receive vaccinations Wednesday – but they’ll also have to worry about a handful of tourists being quarantined due to contact with an infected person on the mainland, despite extraordinary preventative restrictions on travel to Svalbard.

SHUTDOWN TO SNOWMOBILES AGAIN: Ban on motor traffic in three popular areas to protect wildlife OK’d by governor; strong protests by tourism, researchers, cabin owners, filmers, others

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A ban on motorized traffic in three areas heavily populated by seals and polar bears will be in effect from March 15 to June 1, The Governor of Svalbard announced Thursday after evaluating often highly critical comments from a wide variety of local interests from tourism to university research that use the areas.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of March 1, 2021

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Emergency calls to the fire department decline in 2020 due largely to the loss of visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 22 foreigners from eight different countries received a total of 285,000 kroner in “travel-home” COVID-19 grants last fall and a frisbee golf course is expected debut this spring.

40M KR. MORE IN CRISIS AID FOR SVALBARD: Parliament approves increase in general fund allocation for archipelago, intended to help tourism companies hurt by COVID-19

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The latest and perhaps simplest of several emergency measures intended to help Svalbard cope with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was approved by Parliament on Tuesday, which provided 40 million kroner intended to help the decimated tourism industry by increasing the general fund allocation for the archipelago in this year’s national budget by about 10 percent.