In the far north of Europe lies the Svalbard archipelago, embedded between the North Cape and the North Pole. Covering an area of more than 60’000 km2 Svalbard offers a unique opportunity to experience the Arctic in its entirety, from reindeer to polar bear. Every year, it attracts ten thousands of tourists. Tourism has become the second largest branch of Svalbard economy and appropriate infrastructure projects are planned.
In the next three years, three new large hotels are planned in Longyearbyen. Spitsbergen Travel, market leader and largest company in the tourist sector, has specific plans to construct a new large hotel in the center of Longyearbyen itself. Knut Harald Host-Hansen, chief executive of Spitsbergen Travel, says: „The plans have made much progress and also the financial aspects are settled. The only thing missing yet is the exact location. That is what we are working on at the moment.”
Spitsbergen Travel is in contact with the local administration Longyearbyen Lokalstyre. Detailed plans for the new hotel project are there, and Spitsbergen Travel will publish these after finding a suitable location. Approximately 150 – 200 new rooms alone will be available for tourists in this hotel alone. Spitsbergen Travel intends to invest around 300 million Norwegian kroners in the coming years for accommodation options. In addition, the hotel chain Thon and the Asian investor Po Lin Susan Lee have big plans in Longyearbyen and will present their hotel projects in the future. Our local correspondent Marcel Schütz says: „Surely these plans present a great opportunity for tourism on Svalbard. However, they also present great challenges. The larger range of accommodation will eventually lower the prices and more people have the opportunity to experience the fascinating environment.” However, he adds:” There will be more flights and more activities. Thus, the very delicate nature of the archipelago needs more protection and the rules and regulations need to be stricter. Who knows, but maybe a tourist limit will be set in place then. It remains to be seen, how the situation will develop.”