How to manage Arctic tourism

Open up the sustainable tourism debate, insider urges
In an opinion piece in The Arctic Journal, Nils Arne Johnsen, Tromsø resident and Arctic director for the engineering company Rambøll, argues that sustainable tourism in the far north should not be feared or considered bad taste.
He recalls that at the recent Arctic Frontiers conference, a debate took place about Tromsø’s position in the Arctic. As the discussion moved to tourism, a newspaper editor from Bergen commented that tourism in Tromsø was inferior, with too many souvenir shops.
She argued that such an eyesore was unbefitting a town with the ambition of becoming a leading Arctic city.
Johnsen writes that Bryggen, Bergen’s high street, has just as many tourist-oriented stores packed into a small area. In Tromsø, “shops for tourists are in the clear minority. There is a wide range of businesses.”
Tourism continues to grow rapidly in Tromsø, giving the city a different feel and a sense of diversity. Tourists also contribute to the city’s development, which means jobs for residents, customers for businesses and tax revenue for the local council.
“The tourism industry should grab the bull by its horns and open up a debate about the matter, and in the process make it clear that the city’s popularity as a tourism destination is an asset,” Johnsen says. “There is already a tendency to put down tourism, and not just by outsiders.”
As Tromsø’s popularity grows, “we should look to other popular northern destinations for inspiration for how to manage this”, such as Lofoten, Reykjavík and Rovaniemi.
“We should go visit these places ourselves to learn what they are doing – or we should invite their leaders to come and speak with us about sustainable Arctic tourism. Tromsø can and should lead the way in this discussion.”
The Arctic Journal


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