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Want more tourists in the city center

Wednesday 03. July the city centre got crowded when "Costa Pacifica" arrived. FOTO: Eirik Palm

Want more tourists in the city center

The industry is not particularly happy with the tourism foundation in the city center.

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11.07.2014 kl 09:06

"We have a better advantage with regular tourists than cruise tourists," said Stian Uhlen, manager of Frisk Brii. More of Longyearbyen's store managers are expressing dissatisfaction with the results from the cruise season.
"Cruise tourists often have limited time and other plans for what to do here. They will go sightseeing, out in the dog kennels, sit on a bus ... And then they rush down to the dock again," said Signe Mørk at Skinnboden, who would like to see buses stopping in the center of town.
"Then they could have taken the shuttle buses to Bykaia or similar places," she said.

'-Not working as well as it should'
For Ronny Brunvoll, director of Visit Svalbard, the challenge is getting the most value out of cruise tourism. He said he believes both tour operators and businesses must work together in coordination. Therefore, they are working with a cruise network that should be up and running in January.
"Local offerings must be coordinated and optimized," he said. "Many are now coming to land simultaneously and it is difficult to synchronize their experiences. I'll admit that things now are not working as well as they should."
Brunvoll said he wants to create a position for the cruise network where a person will work to coordinate services for cruise tourists so they get to experience what they want and everyone gets some benefit from them.

Coordinating opening hours

"We have already started to coordinate opening hours," Brunvoll said. "The shops - and people - know when the cruise ships arrive at the dock."
"In this way they can self-customize their opening hours for when there are people in the city," he said. Several stores Svalbardposten talked to have made such adjustments.
"We did not open until 10 a.m. when the Costa Pacifica was in town. Then we realized that was not very smart, so now we have started with customized business hours," says Terese Romild at the Rabalder cafe and bakery. Cruise tourists seem to be especially fond of the cafe, which has free wi-fi.
"As far as I can see, no one uses our wi-fi without buying something as well," said Romild, who is happy with the outcome from the cruise season.

Not all are satisfied

Uhlen also tried adjusting opening hours to coincide with cruise traffic.
"We have not had good experiences with opening earlier for cruise tourists," he said. "It does not seem to help much, so we ended it."
Tourism advisor Børre Berglund was in Svalbard in May to give lectures about cruise tourism and how it can benefit the local community. Deals, availability, and open doors were what he cited as the most important factors.
"Cruise ships and guests in themselves means nothing to Svalbard unless the business and tourism industries get them to spend more money in Longyearbyen," he said.
He pointed out that most only come here once in their life, so therefore they are willing to leave some money here.
"It's not about tourists' attitude, but about the stores' ability to offer something unique," Berglund said.

Happy with local souvenirs
Tourists Svalbardposten found in the center of town that day seemed to be satisfied with the deals they found in stores, but even happier with the people here. Katryn Schlegel, a German visitor who has been here several times before, said she probably was not going to shop as much.
"I spend more than enough money for food and drinks here, so I do not need to shop so much," she said. But she believes "there are many fine things in the shops now."
"I like that mostly they are very local and focus on the Arctic," she said. "It's not just 'regular' souvenirs."
Swedes Kent Karlsson and Ivar Jansson said they intend to spend a lot, but on excursions.
"We will be glad to see very many things, but of course we should bring some souvenirs home," Karlsson said. Hearing them out, it seems they have a pretty full program, but they believe they should have time to shop in the meantime.
How much will they shop?
"Well, the card has a limit of fifty thousand, but otherwise we have no limits," laughed Jansson, before he wandered further up the street.

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