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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.