Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 383

383 Arctic Yearbook 2015 According to the Greenlandic geologist Ole Christiansen, former Managing Director of NunaMinerals, Greenland is still not a competitive mining country and missed its chance when the prices on minerals were good a few years ago. A Photo Credit: Lill Rastad Bjørst representative from the Danish business community, Managing Director for PensionDanmark Torben Möger Pedersen, characterized the upcoming mineral sector in Greenland as a risky investment and was advocating for minimizing what he called “political risk.” Managing Director from the confederation of Danish Industry Karsten Dybvad likewise identified Greenland’s structural problems as critical and compared the economic situation that Greenland is faced at the moment, to the one Denmark experienced in the 1980’s. What the Danish keynote speakers asked for was that the Greenlandic Parliament would facilitate a more stable investment climate and go for the longtime planning, so investors knew what to expect. Dybvad said “All over the world we have to ask ourselves – what are we going to live from in the future?” This is now the current problem for Greenland. Tourism in the Arctic: a low hanging fruit? As a solution to the “problem”, investment in existing industries was mentioned in most of the talks (like fishing, tourism and entrepreneurship). Experiences from Iceland with mass tourism was presented and while the politicians in Greenland right now believe in development in the tourism sector as the “low hanging fruit” the industry identifies a lot of challenges. The director of the Icelandic Tourism Research Center, Edward Huijbens recommended a more conservative approach to tourism development. For tourism development to be to the benefit of Greenland, he said that it needs to be driven by the interest of the local industry. Managing Director of Visit Greenland, Anders Steenbakken chaired a workshop with the title “While we are waiting for the investments” centered on how tourism could develop in the long run. He mentioned that Greenland of course needed a better infrastructure and basic knowledge of “tourist reasons to go” was the key to development in the Greenlandic tourism sector. The workshop was aiming at encouraging the Greenlandic business community to think of new innovative ways to support the tourism sector and via entrepreneurship to develop new products and platforms for corporation. The minister for Industry, Labour and Trade, Vittus Qujaukitsoq (Siumut) has recently developed a plan to simulate the tourism sector in Greenland. The themes are: 1. Infrastructure, 2. Tax structure, 3. Framework conditions and 4. Tourism concessions. “It has to be easy and not too expensive to travel around the country”, he said to the business magazine Aurora before the conference (Holmsgaard 2015: 18). To solely stage tourism as the savior and fixer of the economy is problematic because future tourism development is challenged by a number of factors in Greenland. In 2014, a report produced by the large Nordic consultancy firm of Rambøll identified the most important factors as being a short tourism season, a lack of infrastructure, the current limited capacity, the low standards of customer service, low growth rate, a lack of package tours, the low average of overnight stays (only four in average) the low spending per tourist (1.100 kroner per day), the low priority and lack of concrete initiatives by the Government of Greenland, the lack of online information about the destination and the difficulties with internal and external coordination in the Greenlandic tourism Rastad Bjørst