Other human activities in the Barents Sea

Tourism at Svalbard. Photo: Norwegian Polar Institute

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According to the decree of the Murmansk regional government from December 25, 2013 № 768-PP / 20 "On the Strategy of socio-economic development of the Murmansk region till 2020 and for the period up to 2025", the role of tourism in economic and socio-cultural development of the region should be increased. The cruise tourism is recognized as a key area for further development. In order to develop the infrastructure to ensure regular and marine passenger transport, the investment project "Arctic harbor" will be implemented.

Marine tourism in Barents Sea

Marine Tourism in Russia

by Oleg Korneev (Sevmorgeo)

Within the frame of the project, a whole range of objects located in the area of the marine terminal will be reconstructed: the building and the area of the port, pier for the long-distance lines, the first nuclear-powered icebreaker "Lenin" that is permanently stationed in the harbor. Marine terminal will accept passenger cruise ships, which will give an opportunity to open a regular ferry line Kirkenes - Murmansk.
During the season of 2014, there were five cruises to the North Pole, including entrance into the territory of the Federal Reserve “Zemlya Frantza Iosifa” with the nuclear icebreaker “50 let Pobedy”. (Figure.1). In addition, the diesel icebreaker “Kapitan Dranitzytn” is used to visit the FJL islands.

Figure 1. A route of the nuclear icebreaker “50 let Pobedy” with the tourists to the North Pole.Figure 1. A route of the nuclear icebreaker “50 let Pobedy” with the tourists to the North Pole.

Total number of tourists visited the National Park “Russkaya Arktika” and  Federal Reserve “Zemlya Frantza Iosifa” during the season of 2014, was 738 individuals.  These were representatives from over 30 countries, Paraguay, New Zealand, and Malaysia. Almost 40% of the visitors were from the Peoples Republic of China. The reserve has plans to open the border control point on FJL in 2015 for processing of the foreign visitors. In addition, administration of the National Park “Russkaya Arktika” hopes that in 2015 there will be a decree from the RF government about expanding the territory of the National Park “Russkaya Arktika” by including the Federal Reserve “Zemlya Frantza Iosifa” into its territory.
The JSC “Atomflot” organizes the cruises from Murmansk with the nuclear icebreaker “50 let Pobedy” on the following dates in 2015 (http://www.sodis-camp.ru/):

July 9 - 20; July 20 - 31; July 31 – August 11; August 11 – 22

However, according to the message from JSC “Atomflot” on 30.07.2014, starting from 2016, there will be no more tourist cruises to the North Pole and FJL with the nuclear icebreakers due to the further utilization of the icebreakers for their intended purpose only. Apparently, there will still be cruises with the diesel icebreaker “Kapitan Dranitzyn”, but only to the FJL and Novaya Zemlya.
In addition, various natural attractions of the Murmansk region and Nenets Autonomous District allow the development of the environmental tourism. There are three protected areas on the Kola Peninsula: Kandalaksha Reserve (70,5 thousand hectares), “Pasvik” reserve (14,727 thousand hectares), Lapland reserve (268,4 thousand hectares), as well as Kolguev and Vaigach islands, bird cliffs and marine mammal haul-outs in the Pechora sea on Russkiy Zavorot peninsula and Lovetzkiy, Dolgiy-1, Dolgiy-2, Zelenetz and Matveev islands.

Marine Tourism in Norway

based on informaton from Environmental monitoring of Svalbard and Jan Mayen

Cruise tourism in Svalbard has increased considerably over the last 10-15 years. Tourism is one of three focus areas for business in Svalbard and has been so since the last White Paper no 50 (1990-91) Næringstiltak på Svalbard (Measures for Economic development of Svalbard) was presented. Cruise tourism is the major part with a high number of operators and vessels/ships. There are two types of vessels – overseas cruise ships and expedition cruise ships. In addition, there are day cruise ships that operate in Isfjorden. Cruise ships transport a high number of passengers in Svalbard. Cruises started as early as in 1891. Statistics go back to 1996. By establishing AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Tour Operators) in 2003, the industry took a major step in the right direction, such as making guidelines for the member’s activities and meeting the challenges from the authorities.

The number of places where passengers were coming ashore rose steadily from 1996 to 2000. More small expedition cruise vessels appeared on the scene and they began visiting new areas and landing at new places, including eastern Svalbard. However, the number of people put ashore remained reasonably stable. From 2001 onwards, all the operators have reported their activities. The number of tourists going ashore rose by about 45 % from 2001 to 2008, with a peak in 2009. The numbers dropped in 2010 and 2011, most likely because of a decrease in private economy. The numbers rose with approx. 9000 passengers from 2011 to 2012, but the parameter is still on the same level as in 2005. The increase, which continued in 2013, is mainly due to overseas cruise ships, which have also been responsible for most of the rise since 2001, although the expedition cruise vessels have played their part, too.

The number of landing sites rose steadily from 120 in 2001 to a peak of 165 in 2005. The number has stabilized at 145-150 places in the period 2006-2009. Since then the number of landing sites has increased. A total of 189 sites were used in 2013. Part of the explanation is a new type of product «Sail & Ski» where off-piste skiing is the main activity. Overseas cruise ships normally only put passengers ashore at one or two places in Svalbard - Magdalenefjorden and sometimes Møllerhamna, apart from the settlements. The ban on heavy crude oil, limits on the number of passengers and restricted access to cultural heritage sites have changed the sailing routes of the large ships and protected vulnerable areas in eastern Svalbard.

The number of overseas cruise ships visiting Svalbard has varied between 21 and 34, but rose in 2012. The number of expedition cruise vessels has varied between 15 and 35, with a trend towards more but smaller vessels. In 2013 there was a decrease in the number of ships, but still the numbers of passengers increased. Until 2007, the authorities placed no particular limitations on the development of this business, but the landing restrictions and increasing self-applied control through AECO will affect the future development. A decline after the financial crisis in Europe in 2008-2009 has been reversed and there is now some degree of optimism. The introduction of a general ban on heavy crude oil in 2015, nevertheless, gives some cause for concern regarding visits from overseas cruise ships. It should be noted that several expedition cruise vessels join the annual Clean-up Svalbard action, helping to remove rubbish that has drifted ashore.

Figure 2 The number of overseas cruise ships, passengers and crew on board and the number of ships with more than 1000 passengers 1997 - 2014. Source: The Governor of SvalbardFigure 2 The number of overseas cruise ships, passengers and crew on board and the number of ships with more than 1000 passengers 1997 - 2014. Source: The Governor of Svalbard