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The future of experience economy tourism in Greenland

In the beginning of December 2016, Greenland took a new step towards using experience economy as an important tool to develop tourism in Greenland.

11. maj 2017

In these years tourism is booming in the Nordic countries, especially “far up north” where you are able to see the true nature unfold: Northern Lights, volcano activities, snow, ice, rein dear and musk oxen, just to mention a few things of many you can experience. Naturally also the local inhabitants and the way of living in this extreme nature.

Countries such as Finland, Norway and Iceland have a rapid growing number of visitors and more and more are now asking about experiencing Greenland. The number of visitors in Greenland has been relatively stabile for the past 9 years – primarily because of the airports’ regularity. According to the Greenland Statistics the number of passengers on flights to the main airport Kangerlussuaq (Sdr. Strømfjord) has been going up, but slowly, from 50.000 to almost 57.000 from 2006 to 2015. In the period from 2007 to 2015 the incoming passengers on flights to the capital Nuuk has gone from to 800 to 4.000 passengers. Talking about regularity, Kangerlussuaq has 99 % regularity while other local airports, including e.g. Nuuk, Sisimiut and Illulisat varies from 60 % to 65 % regularity. It creates a challenge for the tourism industry.

Exciting opportunities

Invio and Greenland Perspective (Copenhagen University) were in the beginning of December 2016 invited by Queqqata Kommunia (that includes both Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq) to facilitate workshops in Greenland on innovating the tourism sector. Georg Julin from Invio facilitated both the workshop and the great meeting with the inhabitants of Kangerlussuaq in the sports arena in the center of the town. Both sessions were hard work, but it was also an emotional experience to listen to the many statements from the locals, who keep the visitors and guests safe, entertained, and updated about the nature. The local airport is the base for huge American aircrafts coming to Greenland for scientific and military purposes, but it also functions as a secure diverting airport for flights having trouble because of weather conditions or other problems.

Attending the workshop was a great number of local tour operators, artists, food developers, nature guides, inhabitants, and leading politicians from the government of Greenland, including prime minister, minister for infrastructure and minister for industry. The goal of the workshop was to create “the future of experience economy tourism in the area of Sisimiut and Kangerlussuaq”.

The workshops explored the possibilities, instead of the obstacles, for a sustainable expansion of the tourism industry in the area around Kangerlussuaq and Sisimiut. This specific area of Greenland meets many of the wishes from experience tourists (including 99 % regularity on the airport) as they are able to experience the great ice cap, ice bergs, wild life, sledge rides, local food, hunting, handicraft, Northern Lights, etc. The hiking trail from Sisimiut to Kangerlussuaq is to be expanded to an ATV-road and maybe even a one-lane normal traffic way to connect the two cities – this will be the first road-connection between to cities in Greenland.

During the workshops (40 people) and meeting with the inhabitants (120 people) all kind of proposals for upcoming collaborations between the different companies and entrepreneurs in the local area was discussed in small groups with great succes. Furthermore, universities and companies working with development of new techniques and experiences in tourism dedicated them selves to be active in the future process of making the many plans effective and workable.

The optimism after the experience economy workshops and meeting more than indicated that within the next few years the planning of tourism will greatly expand the numbers of tourist in Kangerlussuaq – an important step for tourism in Greenland in the future.

Follow the work on our website, Invio-net.dk, and be the first to explore the next and upcoming tourism adventure in the western part of Greenland.

Project leader and journalist

Georg Julin, Invio