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Tourism 'hit the ceiling' this summer

Trine Krystad telling about sustainable tourism in the coffee break during the conference. FOTO: Eirik Palm

Tourism 'hit the ceiling' this summer

There were about as many guests as overnight accommodation places could cope with in July.

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"We are seeing that now we are hitting the ceiling with the capacity that there is," said Ronny Brunvoll, director of Visit Svalbard. "Now there are longer periods where more cannot come."

Increasing
The figures are preliminary, but it already appears to the tourism director that old records are likely to fall. Reporting from accommodation establishments in Svalbard show a slight increase in June and August compared to 2013, which were good months.
July stood out so much Brunvoll rechecked the calculations several times. The result was 17,800 overnight stays, including guests camping in Svalbard. In comparison, there were 15,200 guest night reported in July last year.

Report from accommodation places are that September is "very good" compared to previous years and October looks promising.
Brunvoll said he thinks the tourism industry is about to break what he calls the 'dark-time code' and believes Svalbard is headed for year-round tourism.

So there is the possibility of more participants?

"Yes, that you must be able to tell," he said.

Improvement
Visit Svalbard hosted a tourism seminar Tuesday. Many from the tourism industry attended this time, which Brunvoll interprets as a good sign. As much as making Longyearbyen attractive for tourists, it is important to understand tourists are not just people who comes and stay, he said. Stores and restaurants are also part of the tourism industry, Brunvoll said, and he believes part of his job is to get more people to understand that.
"Tourism is the reason we have 12 restaurants and pubs, five to six sports shops, and cheap flights," he said. "Many of the service offerings are connected to this. Also the cultural grant money and the environmental protection fund."

At the same time, cooperation must be better, Brunvoll said, referring to letters to the editor in Svalbardposten this summer.

"As a destination we have managed some improvement," he said. "A culture of agreeing to collaborate we must grasp. One operating a little more one by one, and this must work so that each guest will receive the best possibilities. Everyone agrees on that and it can be anything from cruise collaborations to recommending each other when one is full. Selling into each other."

In parallel with efforts to be recognized as a sustainable tourist destination, a master plan is being developed that will lay a course for the future of tourism titled "Destination Svalbard 2025." A Scandinavian design group is the selected partner for developing the new declaration.

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Ronny Brunvoll, MD at Visit Svalbard, was surprised when he saw the numbers of July. FOTO: Eirik Palm

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