WHAT IS THE TOURISM SHOULDER SEASON?
The shoulder season is the time period immediately before or after the high season when the same tours and activities could easily be offered for a few more weeks, or even months. ‘Shoulder season’ is a more neutral term than ‘off-season’, as off-season sends the message that there are simply no possibilities whatsoever.
GREENLAND’S SHOULDER SEASONS
In Greenland, we have two high seasons – summer (from June-August) and spring (from March-April) – and therefore we see two potential shoulder seasons.
Autumn (from September-October) would be the ideal time to continue select summer experiences like hiking and sailing. Winter (in February and even in January and December) would be the ideal time to offer select spring experiences a bit earlier, like dog sledding, snowmobiling, skiing and watching for northern lights. Of course, it all depends on the region.
NUUK & ILULISSAT IN DECEMBER – A TEST TRIP
In early December 2016, Visit Greenland hosted a press trip in Nuuk and Ilulissat – an idea that most local operators were completely baffled by. The media went sailing in Nuuk Fjord, snowshoeing in Nuuk’s backcountry, snowmobiling to the top of Quassussuaq, sailing amongst the icebergs in Ilulissat, walking at Sermermiut, and dog sledding in Ilulissat’s hills.
They absolutely loved it because Greenland is fantastic and impressive at every time of the year.
Kristen Sarah from Hopscotch the Globe in Canada wrote:
“Never have I ever been so blown away with nature as I was on this trip. It will… leave you speechless.”
“The darkness combined with the chill air was comforting and renewing; it was just the natural medicine I needed.”
Sorelle Amore, an Australian blogger living in Iceland, said in a YouTube video:
“This has changed me forever. It has changed the way I will think forever and the way I will act forever. It has changed me as a person. You need to experience this for yourself.”
WHY DEVELOP THE SHOULDER SEASON?
Using existing hotel rooms, human resources and equipment during extra months of the year is a solution for the capacity problem several destinations are experiencing. Also, even a small bit of growth brings more economic impact.
Some destinations in Greenland are fast approaching their ceiling, if they have not reached it already, in terms of hotel- and tour capacity during the high season. For example, East Greenland and North Greenland are typically well above the national average for hotel occupancy rate in summer months, while the Capital Region, Destination Arctic Circle and North Greenland are above the national occupancy average in spring. However, all regions see their occupancy rate cut at least in half during the shoulder season.
Of course, a long term solution is to build hotels to accommodate more guests in the high season, or to buy more equipment, but such infrastructural investments take time to realize.
It is no secret that tourism in our North Atlantic neighbour is booming every month of the year. In 2015, Iceland had 1,26 million visitors through its international airport while Greenland had 51.287 visitors through its international airports, or approximately 4% the volume Iceland had. When we compare our two lands’ visitor numbers during the 2015 shoulder seasons (September, October, December, January, February), Greenland’s proportion goes down slightly to 3,6% (426.429 visitors in Iceland compared to 15.437 visitors in Greenland)
Assuming this half-percent discrepancy is significant, what if we increased to achieve the same 4% during the shoulder season, as well?
With just a half-percent increase, Greenland could welcome an additional 1.600visitors and upwards of an additional 20 million DKK in economic benefit (estimated on the scenario of couples traveling in Greenland for 4 days using round-trip airfare via Copenhagen).
While developing the shoulder season might be a faster solution than building airport runways and hotels, it does still require some thought and cooperation to succeed. Through a combination of offering and marketing holidays in the shoulder seasons and co-sponsoring media visits to create content and visibility for those experiences, the world can suddenly see that Greenland is every bit a winter wonderland in February as it is in April, or that the September colours in the fjord are just as photogenic as the blooming flowers in July.
If you are interested in helping develop the shoulder season in your destination, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.