A milestone for cruise tourism in Svalbard – all cruise operators met with local community and authorities

April 25th, 2023

Photo: Visit Svalbard

There was an overwhelming interest in the digital pre-season meeting, arranged by Svalbard Cruise Forum, on Tuesday April 18. Representatives from all cruise operators, planning to operate in Svalbard in 2023, were among the 200 participants.

Making sure that the upcoming season becomes a positive experience for both community and guests; that was the common denominator for the industry, the local community, authorities, and other stakeholders at the meeting.

The Svalbard Cruise Forum was established earlier this year as a collaboration between main cruise stakeholders, including AECO – the Association of Artic Expedition Cruise Operators.

Frigg Jørgensen, executive director at AECO, says that she is very proud of AECO being a part of this groundbreaking work.

– Svalbard Cruise Forum is becoming the ultimate example of cooperation between cruise industry and local communities, aiming to ensure mutual value creation and sustainability. Yesterday’s meeting was one of many measures on our list and we hope that this work will inspire other destinations.

Logistics, regulations, and value creation on the agenda

Svalbard Cruise Forum works to minimize the strain on the local community, by coordinating the logistics around arrivals. Another important goal is to increase local value creation through dialogue between industry and local businesses. Therefore, the  digital meeting, called “Longyearbyen – The Gateway to Svalbard”, was packed with information about the local and national framework for cruise traffic on Svalbard.

– The operators wish to acquire new knowledge and learn about the opportunities of visiting Longyearbyen. We need to make sure that they have an even better understanding of the place they visit, says Eva Britt Kornfeldt, Coordinator for Svalbard Cruise Forum.

During the two-hour session, the Norwegian Coastal Administration gave a presentation of their focus areas and services. The Norwegian Maritime Authority informed about their presence and focus areas on vessels inspections, while the Norwegian Joint Rescue Coordination Center reminded the operators about the challenging operational conditions and long distances. A very  important message from their side, was to call in early in case of an incident.

Information from local stakeholders

Longyearbyen Hospital emphasized the hospital’s limited size and urged the operators to ensure that its capacity is used only for emergencies. The Governors Tourism Advisor gave information about rules and regulations concerning Svalbard, while Longyearbyen Council’s new waste facilities was presented with information on waste disposal in Svalbard. Finally, both Port of Longyearbyen and Svalbard Airport – Longyear, focused on logistics and guidelines for the upcoming season.

– This meeting was, in many ways, the baptism of fire for Svalbard Cruise Forum. As far as I know, no other cruise destination has gathered the local community, authorities, and so many global stakeholders from the industry at the same table before, says Ronny Brunvoll, CEO of Visit Svalbard, Ronny Brunvoll.


Svalbard Cruise Forum

Svalbard Cruise Forum brings together major stakeholders involved in tourism in Svalbard, under the leadership of Visit Svalbard. The forum was established early 2023 to meet the future for cruise in a more sustainable way. One of the aims for this season is to streamline the logistics related to cruise tourism at the destination.

The four key partners are Visit Svalbard, AECO, Avinor (Longyearbyen Airport) and Port of Longyearbyen.