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Daily Archives: 9. March 2022 − News & Stories


Local tou­rism orga­ni­sa­ti­on asks mem­bers not to spend money in Rus­si­an sett­le­ments

Against the back­ground of Putin’s aggres­si­ve war in the Ukrai­ne, the local tou­rism inter-tra­de orga­ni­sa­ti­on Sval­bard Rei­se­livs­råd encou­ra­ged the mem­ber com­pa­nies not to spend money in the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments in Spits­ber­gen, Bar­ents­burg and Pyra­mi­den.

Barentsburg: brewery

Popu­lar in the past, now con­tro­ver­si­al: the bre­we­rey in Bar­ents­burg.

It was just a few days ago that Sval­bard Rei­se­livs­råd initi­al­ly made a dif­fe­rent decisi­on, arguing that boy­cotts and sanc­tions should be mea­su­res bet­ween governments and sta­tes, but not on a local level. The recent tur­naround came becau­se many poin­ted out that the inco­me gene­ra­ted in the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments bene­fits the owner of the sett­le­ments inclu­ding all tou­ris­tic offers and ser­vices: the Rus­si­an sta­te-owned Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol, or in other words: the Rus­si­an government, which now leads a bru­tal and ille­gal war in the Ukrai­ne.

Sval­bard Rei­se­livs­råd does not advi­se against tours to Bar­ents­burg and Pyra­mi­den, just from spen­ding money the­re. Tours espe­cial­ly to Bar­ents­burg used to be very popu­lar befo­re the recent lar­ge-sca­le Rus­si­an inva­si­on star­ted. The­se excur­si­ons usual­ly inclu­ded a local meal and an oppor­tu­ni­ty to buy sou­ve­nirs, inclu­ding local­ly made ones. Many tour ope­ra­tors will now stop this prac­ti­ce.

But not all: also the new decisi­on is con­tro­ver­si­al. The­re are tho­se tour ope­ra­tors who argue that such boy­cotts will hit the wrong peop­le, name­ly the local popu­la­ti­on – which inclu­des many Ukrai­ni­ans – rather than the regime in Moscow.

Sval­bard Rei­se­livs­råd makes only recom­men­da­ti­ons to the mem­ber com­pa­nies, but the­se recom­men­da­ti­ons are not bin­ding. Every tour ope­ra­tor will deci­de indi­vi­du­al­ly if they will con­ti­nue tours to the Rus­si­an sett­le­ments and if they con­ti­nue to buy and pay for local ser­vices.

Sun fes­ti­val in Lon­gye­ar­by­en

The sun fes­ti­val (sol­fest) is an important high­light in the annu­al calen­dar for many in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. It is tra­di­tio­nal­ly cele­bra­ted on 08 March, when the first direct rays reach Skjæ­rin­ga, the oldest part of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. On this day, a lar­ge crowd comes tog­e­ther at the stairs of the old hos­pi­tal (which does not exist any­mo­re) clo­se to the church.

Sun festival (Solfest), Longyearbyen

Sun fes­ti­val (Sol­fest) in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

This was also what hap­pen­ed in good tra­di­ti­on this time, alt­hough clouds on the sou­thern hori­zon threa­tened to spoil the event. Many locals and cer­tain­ly also a num­ber of tou­rists gathe­red to cele­bra­te the return of the light. The tra­di­tio­nal pro­gram­me inclu­des sin­ging, and when the sun was figh­t­ing to get through around 12.45 hours, she was lively chee­red to until she inde­ed final­ly came out, to ever­y­bo­dies gre­at delight!

Sun festival (Solfest), Longyearbyen

Sun fes­ti­val in Lon­gye­ar­by­en: “Here comes the sun” 🙂

Talk of luck – soon, the hori­zon disap­peared again behind a grey curtain of clouds.

The sun fes­ti­val is actual­ly nmo­re than “just” the 08th of March, it is a who­le week with a seri­es of various cul­tu­ral events. Some of them, such as the tra­di­tio­nal revye that always comes with the sol­fest, have to be post­po­ned by several weeks becau­se too many of the artists are cur­r­ent­ly figh­t­ing Covid-19 🙁

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