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Home* News and Stories → Crui­se tou­rism sta­tis­tics in Spits­ber­gen: decli­ning num­bers

Crui­se tou­rism sta­tis­tics in Spits­ber­gen: decli­ning num­bers

In April, the latest sta­tis­tics on crui­se tou­rism in Spits­ber­gen were publis­hed by the Sys­sel­man­nen. They give detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on about the deve­lo­p­ment of this tou­rism sec­tor until 2013. Against com­mon belief, the­re is no indi­ca­ti­on for an incre­a­se of crui­se tou­rism.

The num­ber of big crui­se ships visi­t­ing Spits­ber­gen as one of several parts their rou­te remai­ned almost unch­an­ged (27 in 2013, 28 in 2012). As some of the ships make several trips per sea­son, the num­ber of trips is a litt­le hig­her (33 trips in 2013, 36 in 2012). In con­trast, a signi­fi­cant decli­ne is indi­ca­ted by the num­ber of pas­sen­gers: After an extra­or­di­na­ry incre­a­se in the record year 2012 (42,363 pas­sen­gers) this figu­re went down to 36 257 in 2013. In the years befo­re, the­re was a decre­a­sing trend in the num­ber of trips (from 50 in 2005 to 28 in 2011) as well as in the num­ber of pas­sen­gers (from 32,781 in 2007 to 24,187 in 2011).

The figu­res are pre­sen­ted in the Sysselmannen´s annu­al report on tou­rism. The sta­tis­tics make a dis­tinc­tion bet­ween the big crui­se ships, visi­t­ing Spits­ber­gen as one of several desti­na­ti­ons on their rou­te, and smal­ler expe­di­ti­on ships. In con­trast to crui­se ships, expe­di­ti­on ships tra­vel pri­ma­ri­ly or exclu­si­ve­ly in the waters around Spits­ber­gen. They usual­ly start and end their trips in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. In the last year the sizes of the­se ships varied bet­ween 5 and 300 pas­sen­gers. The cate­go­ry of expe­di­ti­on ships inclu­des small yachts, most­ly in local owners­hip, sai­ling ships like Noor­der­licht and Anti­gua as well as lar­ger ships like Plan­ci­us and Orte­li­us ope­ra­ted by Ocean­wi­de Expe­di­ti­ons or Quest and Oce­an Nova ope­ra­ted by Polar Quest. The num­ber of expe­di­ti­on ships went down signi­fi­cant­ly in 2013 com­pa­red to 2012 from 35 to 24. Here too, the year 2012 was an all-time high. On the other hand the num­ber of pas­sen­gers was lower in 2012 than in 2013. With 9,277 it ran­ged wit­hin the trend of the pre­vious years. 2013 howe­ver with 10,530 the num­ber of pas­sen­gers on expe­di­ti­on ships was for the first time hig­her than in the for­mer record year 2008 with 10,040 pas­sen­gers.

The figu­res do not indi­ca­te a clear­ly defi­ned pic­tu­re. Loo­king at both cate­go­ries ‘big crui­se ships’ and ‘smal­ler expe­di­ti­on ships’ tog­e­ther, the total num­ber of pas­sen­gers went signi­fi­cant­ly down from 51,640 to 46,787, com­pa­red to the record year 2012. The rela­tively strong decli­ne on crui­se ships is accom­pa­nied by a mode­ra­te incre­a­se on expe­di­ti­on ships. A clear over­all trend can­not be iden­ti­fied. The often heard argu­ment, that ship-based tou­rism in polar are­as is gro­wing rapidly and in an uncon­trol­led way, is howe­ver dis­pro­ved by the figu­res, con­cer­ning Spits­ber­gen (this holds true also for Ant­arc­ti­ca in a simi­lar way, see antarctic.eu-news May 2014). Con­si­de­ring the decli­ne in crui­se tou­rism in Green­land sin­ce 2010 such argu­ments must be seen as a myth. Though, in the past they were used to rea­son for restric­ti­ve legis­la­ti­ve amend­ments con­cer­ning tou­rism (see spitsbergen-svalbard.com-news April 2014).

Inclu­ding the land based tou­rism, the total num­ber of tou­rists visi­t­ing Spits­ber­gen has incre­a­sed in 2013, as the Sysselmannen´s report also shows. The num­ber of guest-nights in Lon­gye­ar­by­en clim­bed mar­ked­ly from 84,643 (2012) to 107,086 (2013) and the num­ber of flight pas­sen­gers from 40,153 (2012) to 47,645 (2013). Land based tou­rism is basi­cal­ly con­cen­tra­ted in and around Lon­gye­ar­by­en, with a focus on on snow­mo­bi­le trips fol­lo­wed by dog sledge excur­si­ons and other acti­vi­ties.

Crui­se tou­rism in Spits­ber­gen invol­ves a ran­ge of ships from yachts and sai­ling boats to lar­ge oce­an liners.

Ships Spitsbergen

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen

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last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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