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Home* News and Stories → The cour­se of things up north

The cour­se of things up north

No new here for a week or more, is the­re not­hing going on in Spits­ber­gen? Inde­ed, the far north has not shaken the world recent­ly. But the­re is always some­thing going. Not just coro­na – it is a long page, stay tun­ed! 😉

Coro­na, Coro­na, Coro­na

Coro­na is obvious­ly com­man­ding the world the­se days, and that is also the case in Spits­ber­gen. Even though the­re has not yet been any cofir­med infec­tion with SARS-Cov-2. Last sum­mer, the virus was alrea­dy the­re with a Hur­tig­ru­ten ship, but it didn’t stay as the­re was no con­ta­ct bet­ween the ship and the sett­le­ment, the trip star­ted and finis­hed in main­land Nor­way.

Corona, Spitsbergen

The coro­na virus still has the world in its firm grip, inclu­ding Spits­ber­gen.

The­re is still some tou­rism in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: a few tou­rists come from the Nor­we­gi­an main­land. The­re are, of cour­se, strict rules. And locals return after their Christ­mas holi­days or wha­te­ver they have done, poten­ti­al­ly giving the virus a lift. In one case, it tur­ned out that someo­ne who had retur­ned to Lon­gye­ar­by­en had been a con­ta­ct of someo­ne with a con­fir­med infec­tion. So far, redu­ced con­ta­cts and other safe­ty mea­su­res seem to have worked fine. On the other hand, a few of Longyearbyen’s oldest inha­bi­tants alrea­dy got the first dose of the SARS-Cov-2 vac­ci­ne.

Regu­la­ti­ons for inter­na­tio­nal tra­vel­lers are still very strict, obvious­ly, and inter­na­tio­nal tou­rism up north is prac­ti­cal­ly non-exis­ting the­se days.

Coro­na: hard on the eco­no­my

Con­se­quen­ces for local com­pa­nies are dra­ma­tic, espe­cial­ly wit­hin tou­rism. And brid­ging aid are more dif­fi­cult than on the main­land, part­ly becau­se of Spitsbergen’s spe­cial sta­tus. But important steps have been taken in recent weeks. Still, many can just hope for impro­ve­ment befo­re their jobs or small com­pa­nies get lost. The important win­ter sea­son, usual­ly pea­king from Febru­a­ry to ear­ly May, will hard­ly hap­pen as it nor­mal­ly does.

Corona, Spitzbergen: Tourismus

Win­ter tou­rists in Spits­ber­gen: nobo­dy knows when this will be pos­si­ble again, but many are wai­t­ing desper­ate­ly.

Powe­ring Lon­gye­ar­by­en up

The future of Longyearbyen’s electri­ci­ty sup­ply has been deba­ted for a long times. The sta­te of the dis­cus­sion is still pret­ty much like the sum­ma­ry given in Decem­ber. In very short words: a new solu­ti­on is nee­ded, and it is likely to be based on some­thing dif­fe­rent than coal, at least part­ly. But now Oslo offi­cials have said that this will have con­se­quen­ces for mine 7, Longyearbyen’s last coal mine. It is obvious that the years of coal mining will come to an end in the not too far future. So far, some­thing near 2030 see­med likely. Now it may actual­ly be ear­lier than that. But final decisi­ons have yet to be made.

Mine 7 near Longyearbyen

Mine 7 near Lon­gye­ar­by­en still has some years left, but the end of coal mining is com­ing clo­ser.

Cash trou­bles

The end of Svalbard’s one and only bank in Lon­gye­ar­by­en was rea­son for some exci­te­ment in 2020. The bank clo­sed for good in Decem­ber. The ATM had alrea­dy been out of ope­ra­ti­on for qui­te a while, becau­se it tur­ned out to be incre­a­singly dif­fi­cult to get cash from the main­land to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Cur­r­ent­ly, the­re is no sup­ply of fresh cash in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Dif­fi­cul­ties ari­sing becau­se of that seem to be limi­ted, as cash­less pay­ment methods are very com­mon in Nor­way and the­re is no inter­na­tio­nal traf­fic the­se days. But at the latest when tou­rists start to return from coun­tries out­side Scan­di­na­via, pro­blems will incre­a­se if the­re is no cash local­ly avail­ab­le. The super­mar­ket, Coop Sval­bard (bet­ter known as Sval­bard­bu­tik­ken), may be able to pro­vi­de a solu­ti­on.

On my own behalf: Book and pos­ter “Sval­bardhyt­ter”

I have got several pro­jects in pro­gress. Some of them are lar­ger ones and the­se will requi­re time to get any­whe­re near publi­ca­ti­on, but ano­t­her one is soon to be finis­hed: Ori­gi­nal­ly con­si­de­red to be “only” a pos­ter, “Sval­bardhyt­ter” (Sval­bard huts) is now a com­bi­na­ti­on of a pos­ter and a book, intro­du­cing 60 his­to­ri­cal huts. Huts are inte­res­ting and often beau­ti­ful pla­ces in the Arc­tic. In the past, they offe­red at least a mini­mum of safe­ty and com­fort, and today, they give a sen­se of adven­ture and histo­ry. And, of cour­se, any visit to a hut in Spits­ber­gen, whe­re­ver it is, is always an excur­si­on in a beau­ti­ful area!

Svalbardhytter: Hammerfesthuset

Ham­mer­fest house on Bear Island (Bjørnøya) was built in 1822. This makes it Svalbard’s oldest buil­ding that is still stan­ding. It is one of 60 huts intro­du­ced in the post and book pro­ject “Sval­bardhyt­ter”.

The Nor­we­gi­an tit­le seems to indi­ca­te a cryp­tic text, but this is not the case: the pos­ter is a col­la­ge of 60 pho­tos and place names, and the litt­le book has some infor­ma­ti­on about every one of them in 3 lan­guages: Ger­man, Eng­lish and Nor­we­gi­an. And it does also have the pho­tos.

“Sval­bardhyt­ter” will soon be avail­ab­le in the Spitzbergen.de online shop with is clo­se­ly asso­cia­ted with this web­site. If you want to make sure that you don’t miss it, just sign up to my email news­let­ter by sen­ding a mes­sa­ge to rolf.stange@spitzbergen.de.

On my own behalf: online pre­sen­ta­ti­on seri­es “Arc­tic Wed­nes­day”

Our seri­es of online pre­sen­ta­ti­ons “the Arc­tic Wed­nes­day” has star­ted last Wed­nes­day with my pre­sen­ta­ti­on about Bear Island and Jan May­en. I am hap­py to say that it was very suc­cess­ful – I may not qui­te be neu­tral, but I got a lot of very posi­ti­ve feed­back so I can be cer­tain that this is the truth 🙂 Bir­git Lutz and I will con­ti­nue the seri­es over ano­t­her cou­p­le of weeks until mid Febru­a­ry. Click here for more infor­ma­ti­on. The talks will be in Ger­man.

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last modification: 2021-01-15 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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