There are several private apartments and cabins now available at the rental website airbnb.no for tourists wanting to see the March 20 total solar eclipse. By requiring a minimum rental of five days, Paal A. Lund is receiving 100,000 kroner for his apartment at Elvesletta.
"I knew that everything in town is sold out and chose to rent out my apartment to give people the opportunity to get themselves here for the solar eclipse," he said.
Lund advertised his apartment for rent last August and it didn't take long before interested parties responded.
"There has been considerable interest, but for some it is too expensive," he said.
Svalbardposten reported last July that Eivind Trondsen profited handsomely by renting out his apartment at Sjøområdet for 50,000 kroner to accommodate six people for a week during the eclipse. Prices now are more than doubled.
When Svalbardposten talked to Lund on Monday, he was working on an agreement with the Discovery Channel for renting the apartment as well as providing logistical services related to filming.
"Most likely I'm so lucky because they are renting both an apartment and logistics services," he said.
Since the agreement has not been formally signed, the apartment is still available to rent.
What was he thinking when he set his price?
"When demand is so great, I think people are willing to pay whatever," he said. "It is a good opportunity to earn good money."
He plans to stay with a colleague during the week.
"I don't have to stay in the snow," he said.
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Can sleep with friends
Elisabeth Leinan Johannessen's family in Gruvedalen is also advertising their apartment for rent on Airbnb for 20,000 kroner a day.
"We have received very little response so far," Johannessen said. "Most do not really want to pay so much. We have received many requests from people who want to rent the couch, but that is not so interesting for us."
The Airbnb rental hub is tipping off interested parties about each other. Both landlords and those who wish to rent must create a profile, and payment is made via the website.
"It seems a bit safer," Johannessen said. "You know that you will get their money if it gets rented out. In any event when it comes to talking about such large sums."
Will she consider reducing the price if there are no takers?
"No, not really," she said. "We are not moving out the whole family if we don't earn well doing it. It is a bit more cumbersome when you have children."
They have an agreement with a friend they can move in with during the eclipse.
Cabin rentals not allowed
In recent weeks, several cottages have been offered for rent during the eclipse. Some occupants are asking 20,000 kroner a day, similar to the advertised apartments. But renting out cabins to tourists is not allowed.
"According to the law, it is only permanent residents or former residents who may rent or own cabins," said Guri Tveito, senior environmental officer for The Governor of Svalbard. "The intent is to ensure the most equitable distribution of the blessing that cabins are."
The same rule applies for homes.
Will rentals during the eclipse be investigated?
"It is not illegal to advertise cabins," Tveito said. "We have confidence that the law will be followed."
She said her office has not been contacted regarding the policy.
Way back in 2007/2008, a group reserved all of Spitsbergen Travel's available rooms for the solar eclipse. A month ago, the group said they didn't need all the rooms and Spitsbergen Travel therefore has 25 rooms available at Spitsbergen Guesthouse. The price is 20,000 kroner per person in a double room for a minimum of four nights.
"There have been a number of requests," said Eskil Solberg, Spitsbergen Travel's sales director. "We know that is a high price range, but we have ice in our stomachs. There is a very high demand and the price follows accordingly. There are still some seats on planes and we think we can sell the rooms."
The group that has booked the rest of the rooms consists of nearly 400 people.
"That is the largest group ever for Spitsbergen Travel," Solberg said.