Katerina Zwonckova, sales and marketing manager for Trust Arktikugol's tourism company in Longyearbyen,
said the company wants to further develop Pyramiden as a tourist destination. Pyramiden is a Russian mining town abandoned in 1998. Some of the buildings are open to tourists visiting the city.
"We do not have that many activities there today, but we are working on that," she said. "Most are there on a two-hour guided tour, but some also come to stay and eat traditional food at the restaurant."
The number of tourists visiting Pyramiden was 30 percent higher in June compared to June of last year.
The snowmobiling season begins in February. It attracts both foreign and Norwegian tourists to the Russian settlements in Barentsburg and Pyramiden. This year the boating season started unusually early in March due to a warm winter that prevented sea ice from forming along much of Spitsbergen's west coast.
"In March and April there were many who came to Pyramiden on ships for an overnight trip," Zwonckova said. "It's a nice tour in amazing scenery. The place offers a special Soviet atmosphere."
During summer, July and August are the most intensive months. More than 60 percent of the guests who come to Pyramiden are Norwegian. The most common foreign visitors are Germans, French, Swiss and Britons. Only about 10 percent are Russians from major cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Omsk and Perm.
A new floating dock was in place in June to welcome 600 passengers aboard the British cruise ship Saga. They were transported to shore by tender boats.
"It is important that we have a new floating dock," Zwonckova. "It also means that it is easier for those with their own boat to dock."
Seven people live in Pyramiden during the tourist season. There are two guides; the rest work in the restaurant, hotel and perform maintenance.
Ten kayaks and several touring bikes were purchased recently to provide more varied offerings for tourists. All activities require the presence of polar bear guards. Zwonckova said guided tours inside the school, kindergarten, cultural center and swimming pool can also be arranged.
The only online and mobile coverage area in Pyramiden consists of a single square meter. The guide Sasha goes to this place, where a bench and old phone await, at 10 a.m. to get information from the company about how many guests are coming. Then he downloads the booking list by e-mail from the office in Longyearbyen. All food is transported there by helicopter and water comes from the glacier across the bay.
"Many people wonder why it is so expensive in the Pyramid, but it is because of the challenging logistics," Zwonckova said.
She said they plan to offer more activities and hikes next year.