New airline passenger registration

Registering of residential addresses for international passengers travelling out of Greenland began in July 2014. Consequently, Q3 and Q4 2015 are the two first quarters in which Visit Greenland has been able to compare key figures from two years in regard to where the tourists come from, (from the beginning, ten different countries were registered and this expanded to 26 countries from January 2016), the proportion of tourists compared to residents in Greenland as well as the growth from Q3-Q4 2014 to Q3-Q4 2015.

In a graphic presentation, the distribution as well as the growth appears as follows:

The growth is driven by international tourists

Traditionally, Danish tourists have been the predominant segment and this is still the case. Broadly speaking, every third passenger in 2015 resided in Greenland, every third in Denmark and the rest abroad. As can be seen above, from 2014 to 2015, there was negative growth in Greenlandic passengers, zero growth from Denmark, while tourists from the rest of the world show a growth of as much as 49.4%. The growth for all tourists (including Denmark) is at 23.8%.

Only limited growth in tourist overnight stays

A growth of 1.3% in the number of tourist overnight stays can be seen in the overnight stay figures, which is significantly lower than the growth for tourists using airlines.  Some of the explanation for this could be possibly found in the fact that the data is not complete as not all overnight accommodation places report data to Statistics Greenland. Another part of the explanation is that in 2015, there were almost 2,000 more cruise passengers than in 2014. Calculations show that this corresponds to approx. 500 more cruise passengers having been flown in/out via Kangerlussuaq and, of course, they do not feature in the overnight stay statistics. This is what it looks like:


In 2015, there were 22,390 cruise guests in Greenland compared to 20,214 in 2014, which corresponds to an increase of 10.8%. In June 2015, a reorganising of the cruise traffic became effective, which meant significant cost-cutting measures for the majority of the ships. Since the planning horizon in the cruise industry is one to two years, it is however improbable that the growth in 2014-2015 is due to the change to charges/levies, but should rather be attributed to a general growth in the demand and interest. In 2016, new pilot rules will apply, which mean a cost increase for ships with more than 250 passengers. We can only guess at the consequences of this, but it could affect the composition of the proportion of large and small ships in the future. Hopefully, the growth in the total number of cruise guests will continue.

Here is the development over the past years:

Markets Segments with unusually high growth

As is apparent in the airline passenger diagram, we see the biggest growth in Other Europe (241.1%), USA (166.1%), Italy (131.4%) and Japan (106%). The two first mentioned are, however, far more important as together they are responsible for 5,771 PAX, where Italy and Japan together only comprise 943 PAX.

Segments with growth percentages between 50 and 100 comprise Canada (66.9%) and China (68.9%). Both markets have high growth rates and an overall passenger number of 2,289 PAX.

Data from Keflavik International Airport in Iceland also tells of high growth from supporters with strong growth figures for China (83%) and the USA (59.6%). Here, Great Britain (33.5%) and Germany (20.3%) are also feature well. For the latter, the growth rates in Greenland are almost in line with the Icelandic Keflavik with 37.8% growth for Great Britain and 21.8% for Germany.

So we see a field with a handful of markets, segments that demonstrate unusually high growth rates. This will be most interesting to follow in 2016.

Which countries travel via which approaches?

When we look at which approaches the various countries prefer, the most clear pattern is that Danes almost exclusively travel via CPH-Kangerlussuaq (SFJ) and Icelanders almost exclusively via Iceland, which must be said to be quite predictable.
Citizens from China and Taiwan clearly prefer Iceland as the hub.

Travel patterns for the other markets

The remaining large segments are a little more equally distributed, but perhaps the most surprising is that citizens from the USA and Canada prefer Copenhagen as the hub to a greater extent than Iceland. This is remarkable as travelling via Denmark from North America is longer in terms of time and distance than via Iceland.  This must be considered as contra-intuitive as in terms of distance, it is a long detour compared to Iceland as the hub. Here you can see the distribution seen from the CPH-SFJ perspective:

Further ten countries in the residential address registration

We saw the biggest growth in Q3-Q4 2015 in the category, Other Europe. To gain better knowledge of which specific markets that are responsible for this growth, a number of new countries have been added to the registration from January 2016. To get more insight, among other things, Visit Greenland has been allowed to add ten other countries to the iPad app that is used to register country of residence for airline passengers. Thus, passengers from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria andPoland are now also registered from 1 January 2016.

Visit Greenland has been in dialogue with the industry on which segments/nationalities they have observed an increase in recent years and on this basis, the following countries in Asia are also included from January 2016: South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

Updated website on Greenland tourism statistics

On the website you can get an in-depth look at both raw tourism data under the section "Statistics" and read Visit Greenland's analyses on tourism development under the section "Analyses".