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Home* News and Stories → Corona tests for Spitsbergen travellers, tourism in heavy seas

Corona tests for Spitsbergen travellers, tourism in heavy seas

Corona test requirements: difficult in real life

Since last Friday, all travellers to Spitsbergen need to show a negative corona test that mus not be older than 24 hours. This requirement comes from the Norwegian health minister and it was communicated on Thursday afternoon, just a couple of hours before it came into force. Local authorities, including the Sysselmannen and the community administration in Longyearbyen, were not involved. It is, however, difficult to get a test prior to departure in Oslo or Tromsø. There is a test station for rapid tests at the airport in Tromsø, but will soon be closed according to Svalbardposten. This leaves travellers from Tromsø with the option for PCR tests, but it takes usually 2-3 days to get the result. Not helpful if the required maximum is 24 hours.

Coronatest, Spitsbergen

Corona-test on the way to Spitsbergen.

There is not much more official information than the hint that all travellers are themselves responsible to get a valid test in time.

Tour operators in Longyearbyen put staff on leave

There is currently hardly any international traffic to Spitsbergen. Travellers come almost exclusively from mainland Norway, both locals and tourists, in numbers that are a faint shadow of what Longyearbyen was used to until 2019. Major local tour operators have now told Svalbardposten to put employees on leave: Hurtigruten Svalbard will send about 40 out of 100 employees home, for part of their time or fully, while 20 of 70 staff of Svalbard Adventures will loose 50 % of their work soon. It is uncertain when they can return to their workplaces again fully (or at all). Normally, February would be the start of the important local winter season.

Public money does not reach the companies as needed

John Einar Lockert, head of Svalbard Adventures in Longyearbyen, feels himself made a fool by governmental financial aids and regulations. Companies who decided to keep their operation up and running lose rights to funding. Instead, there are fundings for restructuring measures, something many companies do currently not have any economical power for. Spontaneous regulatory initiatives such as the requirement for corona tests for travellers which was introduced after only a few hours of warning time are not experienced as helpful.

Tourism: in heavy seas due to corona

Tourism is, due to corona, currently in heavy seas.

Self-employed people often out in the rain

Not only artists, but also one-man-companies within tourism are often just left without public support, in Longyearbyen, Germany and other countries. Self-employed guides, for example, who usually offer their services to companies on a contract-basis, try to engage themselves in creative solutions wherever possible, and as soon as this is not available anymore, they use up their reserves and then depend on partners, families and friends.

last modification: 2021-02-04 · copyright: Rolf Stange