A cruise workshop for cruise operators in Greenland

Visit Greenland hosted a cruise workshop for cruise operators in Greenland the 26. and the 27. of May.  The main purpose of the workshop was to present a new framework for cruise development, specifically in the areas of taxation, infrastructure, and maritime safety, and discuss what options they provide for the future.

Port charges reduced

During its spring session, the Greenlandic parliament, Inatsisartut, decided upon a measure which involved restructuring the port charge from a per passenger fee of DKK 525 to a gross tonnage charge per call. The new tax will mean average savings of up to 74 percent of the tax burden, and will thus be one significant hurdle less for the cruise companies. The new tax will enter into force on 1. June this year, but it is not expected to have any effect on cruise companies for the next two-three years, as companies plan cruises several years into the future.

A decision has also been taken to void the special high tax on charter flights with tourists, such as aircraft used for passenger turnovers. Such flights have been taxed heavier than regularly scheduled commercial flights. Future costs of passenger turnovers in Greenland will thus be reduced.

The new tax will enter into force on 1. June this year.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has drawn up a set of rules for vessels operating in Arctic water.

New Navigation Rules

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has drawn up a set of rules for vessels operating in Arctic waters - including the entire territorial ocean area belonging to Greenland. This new set of rules will become effective in 2017.

In addition, the Danish Maritime Authority will draft and implement specific regulation applicable to vessels operating in Greenlandic waters. The Greenland Government’s Ministry of Housing, Construction and Infrastructure stated that proposals have been voiced to regulate the maximum size of vessels operating in the most northern waters, and what requirements are needed to be filled to ensure a minimum ice classification of vessels operating in parts of the Greenlandic territorial waters.

The proposed legislation is expected to be heard in the Parliament during autumn.
With the adoption of the Pilot Act in Inatsisartut, it is expected that an arrangement for Greenlandic pilots will be introduced in the near future.

Several participants stressed the importance of new rules, which may have, or can cause, significant operational and financial consequences for shipping, be introduced with considerable notice.  Sufficient forewarning will allow adequate time for the shipping companies to adapt to the new legislation.

Infrastructure improvements

The new sector plan for the ports recommends that port facilities in the settlements be modernized to employ a multifunction system equally suitable for handling freight as well as passengers. It will make landfall operations easier for cruise ships.

The new port of Nuuk and plans for a port in Kangerlussuaq were also presented. A harbor in Kangerlussuaq would greatly facilitate the turnaround of passengers, was the general assessment made by both the Municipality of Qeqqata and the harbor agents.

Several participants drew attention to the challenges of poor landing conditions in several places, worn and undersized pontoon bridges. Leaving it uncertain of whether or not the bridges will be launched in time before the arrival of the first ship of the season.

The new port of Nuuk and plans for a port in Kangerlussuaq were also presented.

"A kayaking experience in Greenland does not have just to be a show where the passengers are the spectators. Why not let the passengers try the kayaks and the locals row with them".

Product development

When you hear the phrase "cruise tourism" many might automatically visualize an elderly lady with blue hair. However, Visit Greenland’s segment study provides a more detailed picture.  Passengers on the smaller expedition ships resemble land based adventure tourists much more they do the passengers on, the larger cruise ships.

A general trend in the industry points to passengers getting younger, more active and demanding experiences in which they can better participate. This trend is particularly true for the passengers of the smaller expedition ships, but it is a trend seen on all the cruise ships in Greenland.

"A kayaking experience in Greenland does not have just to be a show where the passengers are the spectators. Why not let the passengers try the kayaks and the locals row with them," Line Overgaard from Hurtigruten asks.

There was a consensus that products and standards in Greenland have improved significantly during the last ten years. However, there is still a need for individual tour operators and destinations to adequately familiarize themselves with what type of cruise tourists they are receiving - and work on developing products that are suited to their cruise guests.

The wildest dreams .......

The end of the workshop was an afternoon where participants worked in groups, to first articulate their visions for cruise tourism in Greenland and to highlight the most important things needed for these visions to become a reality.

The visions were about seeing a substantial increase in cruise tourism than today but developed in such a way as to generate significant economic income locally while still being environmentally friendly and socially sustainable.

To achieve this, the conclusion was that a there needs be a correlation and consistency of the policy initiatives in the field of cruise tourism. Legislative initiatives must take into account the industry's needs for pre-planning, and create an infrastructural framework that does not impede development. It is also important that professionalization increases at the destinations in order to develop value-added products of interest to both local boat owners and shipping companies.

If you wish to gain access to the presentations from the workshop, or to obtain additional information, please contact Mads-Daniel Skifte mads@greenland.com  or Anders la Cour Vahl anders@greenland.com 

The visions were about seeing a substantial increase in cruise tourism than today but developed in such a way as to generate significant economic income locally while still being environmentally friendly and socially sustainable.