This week more than 100 participants were gathered in Longyearbyen, Svalbard to discuss the future of tourism in Svalbard and how to develop sustainable tourism in a vulnerable Arctic environment.
“The potential for conflicts is large, but the conflict-level is low”, said Anders Anundsen, Norwegian Minister of industry and fishery, when he opened the conference.
Minister Anundesen also stated that the Norwegian government has a clear vision and policy for the further growth and development of tourism in Svalbard. The Governor of Svalbard, Kjerstin Askholt, expressed satisfaction with the good and responsible tourism industry in the archipelago, but also pointed to unused opportunities as well as reasons to be vigilant to the potential of increasing negative impacts of a growing tourism.
Tourism in Svalbard is pointed out as a developing area and has been subject to growing attention after a major decline in Norwegian coal mining in Svalbard. Approximately 60.000 tourists visited Svalbard by airplane last year, and an additional 40.000 arrived by cruise vessels. The objectives for Longyearbyen is to double the number of employees in the tourism industry, which may involve a tripling of the number of tourists.
The conference showed a remarkable level of agreement about the need for sustainable development, and also acknowledged an unused potential in use and marketing of national parks and the interesting cultural history.
The conference was organized in a cooperation between AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators), Visit Svalbard, Svalbard Business Council and the University in Svalbard – with funding from Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund and participants represented government, tourism industry, researchers, universities. NGOs and others.
Read more about the conference program and participants in Norwegian here.
Photo of the Svalbard Tourism Conference Opening session.
Photo of the Norwegian Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen addressing the conference
Photo of The Governor of Svalbard Kjerstin Askholt