Responsible tourism: Spitsbergen summer holiday, glaciers of Isfjorden
Svalbard might be more commonly perceived as a winter destination. This holiday seeks to challenge such an understanding by showing holidaymakers the natural beauty and splendour of Svalbard during the summer months.
The boat trips to the Esmark and Nordenskiöld Glaciers follow strictly chosen routes to allow maximum enjoyment without interfering with the flora and fauna of Isfjorden. They carry large groups of participants on each voyage (a maximum of 100 participants) to avoid multiple boats being sent, thus reducing the prospect of mass-pollution to this pristine archipelago. On the Esmark and Barentsburg trip, holidaymakers will pass the cliffs of Fuglefjella. A safe distance is maintained so that the many seabirds which inhabit it are not threatened or disturbed in any way. Given that the cliffs are home to nesting sites, this is all the more important – young birds could be learning to fly in the area and must be given sufficient space.
The tour of Longyearbyen and the coastal dogsledding on wheels are operated with a similarly high regard for the land environment. Guides instruct holidaymakers on how to behave responsibly so as to preserve the area for future visitors. They also educate holidaymakers about the fauna and flora of Spitsbergen.
An important symbol of environmental efforts is the Global Seed Vault. Built with the capacity to safeguard some 4.5 million types of seed from around the world, it has been constructed to take full advantage of its surrounding environment. Holidaymakers not only learn about necessity of protecting the genetic bank of the world’s crops, but also about how to build environmentally efficient structures.
Remoteness is certainly a word which comes to mind when considering Svalbard. Not that this should be viewed in a negative light – an advantage of the archipelago’s rather separate location is that visitors are provided with a truly tranquil escape from the noise of modern life. Such breaks are known to be psychologically stimulating and physically enriching – much-needed breaks from everyday stress. As a result, the community of holidaymakers receives an important therapy for their minds and bodies.
The remoteness of Svalbard also means that local communities will be reliant on tourism as a means of income. This is case throughout, whether in the main town of Longyearbyen or when visiting Barentsburg and Pyramiden. The latter two are especially cut-off, so we make specific stops for buying souvenirs.
For all activities, we hire the services of local guides and experts. This means that they can provide native knowledge of Spitsbergen and its surrounding area, as when on the Longyearbyen sightseeing tour or the boat trips across the Isfjorden. It also means that holidaymakers can directly connect with locals, rather than someone sent from aboard. Finally, it ensures that Svalbard’s tourism industry financially profits, rather than seeing business being sucked outside.