Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
First, a huge thanks to all the many Greenlandic and international tourism stakeholders for the good project-based and press cooperation we have had in 2015.
The end of the year is customarily the point at which one takes stock of the past year and looks forward, and 2015 was a year with obvious growth in the tourism industry. The total number of tourists that traveled to Greenland by air in the first three quarters of the year was 46,280, and the number of cruise passengers was 22,534. What follows is a series of measures that make it likely that the growth will continue in 2016 and beyond.
When comparing the number of air travelers in the high season of 2014 to those of 2015, there is a growth of 9.8%, even though the combined share of Greenlandic and Danish air travelers fell by 13.5% in the same period. The number of air travelers from countries other than Greenland and Denmark went from 11,865 in 2014 to 18,120 in 2015, a huge increase of 52.7%.
Similarly, cruising in Greenland saw a growth in the number of cruise passengers from 20,214 in 2014 to 22,534 in 2015 - an increase of 11.5%.
Therefore it can be interpreted that the increase in air travelers is due to more international tourists, and it is fitting that Greenland will be even more accessible next year.
In summer 2016, Air Greenland is adding two daily flights via Kangerlussuaq on Mondays, as well as departures later in the day from Kastrup in Copenhagen on Tuesdays and Thursdays days, making it possible for same-day connections from Europe. In the same period, early June to late August, Air Iceland is starting flights from Keflavik to Kangerlussuaq with a Q400 aircraft.
Several initiatives in the right direction
An earlier barrier for growth in the cruise tourism industry has been the extremely high passenger tax. It has since been changed to a port fee, which for the majority of cruising companies will mean a noticeable price reduction. It is expected that this measure will further strengthen the growth in cruise tourism.
Another precursor for growth conditions in the tourism industry, that in the long term will ensure investments and increased professionalism, is the legal framework for concessions that was approved in spring this year.
On the experience side, we continue to see important product adjustments of existing products and the development of new experiences, and new international agents are continuing to add Greenland to their programs.
Finally, the first political steps have been taken to renew the airport infrastructure in Greenland, which, in the long run, will further provide good conditions for growth in the industry.
These are the measures which, taken together, form the basis that growth in tourism can be realized.
Recommendations from the tourist board
No one can deny that this growth in tourism will benefit Greenland and its population for the good - but it won’t happen automatically. It is up to us to set a fair and realistic framework about how we will reach this goal.
While I’m here, I thought I would use this Christmas message to give a few warm recommendations about this tourism development framework.
We should focus on a style of tourism development that both includes the local people and gives the most benefit to the region, at the same time as we prepare for partnerships with international stakeholders built on investments and cooperation. There is no reason not to support both sides. On the contrary, a responsible tourism development strategy is based on both sides being taken care of. Therefore, it is important that, from 2016, concessions are given to the Greenland-based companies that need them. The concessions will strengthen the value and sustainability of the existing products, thus making it significantly more attractive for the international travel agencies to enter into partnerships.
The Pioneering Nation brand and the segmentation work have, respectively, created a unique and flexible Greenland communications platform, giving a nuanced understanding of which types of tourists are attracted to our country. Today, both elements are the backbone of Visit Greenland’s work.
Marketing can be a huge financial undertaking, but Greenland has found a shortcut by breaking away from the competitor destinations and distinguishing itself, and this we continuously communicate in all our marketing. Therefore, I recommend and invite all stakeholders to take advantage of the free materials and use them in your own marketing as much as possible. What’s more, I invite you to enter into cooperation with Visit Greenland, the final product of which is the creation of new marketing materials that you have a specific need for.
A boost for tourism
A necessary new airport infrastructure requires enormous investment, and it will stretch out over a number of years. The profitability of these new airports will be contingent upon more tourists choosing Greenland as a holiday destination year over year.
We recommend that before, during and after the establishment of the new airports, the Greenlandic marketing intensifies in order to strengthen the motivations to visit Greenland in direct connection with the tourist types that suit Greenland.
The market development actions should put greater focus on the primary markets, which can be done over the long term through cooperation between the airlines and travel agencies on the one hand and the municipalities, Self Rule Government, and Visit Greenland on the other hand.
Decisions on the basis of better and more knowledge
Last but not least, Visit Greenland recommends to always base marketing and market development on reliable statistical grounds. Even though we should be capable of making large coordinated actions, we are still quite small on the international scale. Therefore, we must ensure that we put the effort toward the markets whose clients show the greatest interest in Greenland as a holiday destination.
We in Greenland have every reason to be extremely ambitious with our tourism development work, and these ambitions should be reflected in our education policy. We already have a good basic education program in service and arctic guiding, but it is logical to take the next step in the not-too-distant future to offer a higher education degree in arctic tourism. This can only be realized through cooperation with universities elsewhere in the Arctic. An education that combines the practical with theoretical research will give us a new generation of highly qualified workers that can carry out future tourism development work at both the regional and national level.
Sending one final thank you for the past year and a wish for continued good cooperation.
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