Dos and Don’ts for tourists visiting Greenland

July 18th, 2022

Based on the success of previous local tourism guidelines, three Greenlandic communities are now launching new Community Specific Guidelines to greet visitors. The launch coincides with the re-opening of the cruise season in Greenland.

A coffee break in Oqaatsut  – Photo: Visit Greenland

In April, AECO helped facilitate three Community Specific Guideline Workshops in Disko Bay, in the northern part of Greenland. The workshops were led and organized by communities in Aasiaat, Qasigiannguit and Qeqertarsuaq, with the help of Destination Diskobay. The purpose of the workshops was to put tourism on the agenda and develop community guidelines with specific recommendations, information, and advice for visitors.

In addition to a general discussion of tourism in the specific communities, the goal of the workshops was to develop Community Specific Guidelines like the ones developed by the Greenlandic communities in Ittoqqortoormiitt, Kangerlussuaq, Maniitsoq, Nuuk, Paamiut, Sisimiut and Tasiilaq. These guidelines are available on AECO’s webpage.

About Community Specific Guidelines

Community Specific Guidelines is a tourism management tool developed in 2017 by Visit Greenland, Visit Svalbard, Cruise Iceland, The Northern Norway Tourist Board and AECO funded by NORA. As a part of the development of general Community Specific Guidelines, a template was also developed for Community Specific Guidelines. In 2018 the first Community Specific Guidelines were successfully introduced in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. After this the development of Community Specific guidelines gained speed so that altogether 12 Community Specific Guidelines were developed in 2018 and 2019.

Advice on how to be a considerate guest

To welcome visitors, Community Specific Guidelines provide a set of helpful instructions when visiting communities. They offer tips and tricks to get around and advice on how to be a considerate guest. Among other things, the guidelines encourage visitors to enjoy the town and landscape, but to leave native flora, animals, and cultural heritage untouched. are given advice such as to ask before taking photos of locals, and not glance through private windows. The guidelines also give advice on sites worth visiting – including areas suited for hiking.
Linda B. Kleist, Destination Manager at Disko Bay – is very happy with the collaboration with AECO:
“In order to create a sustainable cruise tourism development in our region, it has been important for us at Destination Diskobay to include all local stakeholders in the creation process of Community Specific Guidelines for Aasiaat, Qasigiannguit and Qeqertarsuaq, as they are the ones who get a firsthand experience of the visitors in their respective communities.
I am very excited and looking forward to the guidelines coming into use, as I believe that with mutual respect and consideration, the quality of the locals’ experience with the visitors and the visitors experience of the communities will be improved. “

Local ownership is key

All the new Greenlandic Community Specific Guidelines were created by the local communities with assistance from and based on a template by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).

Kasper Borberg is one of the many locals who took part in the workshops, as a representative for a tourism operator in Qeqertarsuaq ”I absolutely think that what you are doing is a necessity and that all in all makes good sense” Borberg says in a statement.
Ilja Leo Lang, AECO’s Community Engagement Project Manager, who has been involved with the guideline creation in this project says that local initiative and work in the guideline creation process has been a key factor for success.

“It has been amazing to witness the level of engagement from the locals. If I have learned one thing from participating in the community workshops it is the importance of getting people together to discuss tourism, what to and not to do locally – and seeing how such meetings creates better understanding, more involvement, and local ownership. »

Frigg Jørgensen, Executive Director of AECO, says that the expedition cruise industry is working to foster good relations with local communities.

It’s great to see that the communities in Ittoqqortoormiitt, Kangerlussuaq, Maniitsoq, Nuuk, Paamiut, Sisimiut and Tasiilaq have embraced Community Specific Guidelines and made them their own. The workshops involving local stakeholders shows how important it is to let the communities shape tourism in their area. That way, we make sure that expedition cruise ships are welcomed now, and in the future.

AECO has implemented many guidelines, standards, and tools to ensure environmentally friendly, safe and considerate expedition cruise tourism in Greenland. This also includes vessel tracking, field staff assessments, observer schemes, in addition to developing Community Specific Guidelines for locations also in Svalbard, Iceland, Canada and Norway
One important thing to stress is that all of the communities that have developed Community Specific Guidelines have decided that these are not only for cruise guests – but for all visitors to these communities”
All Community Specific Guidelines and other guidelines are available on the AECO webpages

About this project

The project is sponsored by NORA and a collaboration with the Icelandic Tourist Board (Ferðamálastofa), as project owner. Destination Disco Bay is the project partner in regard to the development of the new Greenlandic guidelines in Aasiaat, Qasigiannguit and Qeqertarsuaq. Besides the three Greenlandic guidelines the overall goal of the project is to develop 12 additional community guidelines with communities in Iceland, Northern Norway, and the Faroe Islands. With this addition, all together 26 community specific guidelines have been developed in Greenland, Iceland, Canada and Svalbard.