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PHOTO: Anne Maanum
Longyearbean has Arctic wildlife right on its doorstep. These tracks evidence of a visit by a polar bear to the town in May

Longyearbyen issues community guidelines for visitors

Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost town, has issued a set of 11 guidelines for tourists to stay safe and get the best experience of the small Arctic community that numbers 2,100 people.

Svalbard Cruise Network and Visit Svalbard have issued the Longyearbyen Community Guidelines to help our visitors become better tourists, and us to become better hosts, reports Eva Britt Kornfeldt, manager of Svalbard Cruise Network.

The Guidelines are inspired by AECO (Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators) who has developed an extensive set of guidelines for expedition cruising in the Arctic waters and whilst the

Governor of Svalbard has a set of safety rules, Longyearbyen needs more specific guidelines for exploring the town, commented Kornfeldt.

‘Longyearbyen is a unique destination with it’s Arctic wildlife right at our doorstep, its cultural heritage sites spread around town and its enthusiastic inhabitants trying to live ordinary lives in an extraordinary place,’ she notes. For example, polar bears are never far away, so we carry a weapon every time we go outside the settlement, she reminds.

‘We engaged the locals of Longyearbyen to tell us what are the ‘do’s and dont’s’ in our small community’ explains Kornfeldt. ‘We ran workshops and meetings and studied the reactions on the local Facebook sites when cruise ships call and have asked our guests about their experience of Longyearbyen,’ she added.

‘Based on all the feedback the team then extracted 11 points which we hope will guide our visitors through our town and make their stay in Longyearbyen even better.’

Longyearbyen Community Guidelines

• For your own safety, do not leave town without polar bear protection

• Chat with locals but ask before photographing, and please respect privacy and do not take pictures of children at kindergartens or school

• Enjoy a walk through town, but please walk on the left side of the road if there are no sidewalks

• The Svalbard reindeer, grouse and birds can be seen around town. Enjoy our wildlife at a safe distance, remember that birds and other animals are not to be disturbed

• Dogs in the dog yards are a common sight in Longyearbyen, please do not feed, touch or disturb the dogs by getting too close to them for photographs

• We have many beautiful flowers, enjoy the sight but do not pick them

• Help us respect our history, please leave old cultural remains alone. Law protects all traces of humans from before 1946

• You are welcome to photograph parked snowmobiles, but please do not touch them

• The use of drones is prohibited in Longyearbyen less than 5 km from Longyearbyen airport

• Help us keep beautiful Svalbard clean. Use our garbage bins and leave no traces behind

• Shop locally! You are welcome to buy our locally made products, but we do not have a tradition for bargaining

Aim to get Guidelines onboard visiting cruise ships

Kornfeldt hopes the Guidelines will reach all visitors visiting Longyearbyen and Svalbard, ‘wether it be on the tour operators confirmations, in the staterooms of the cruise vessels calling Longyearbyen or on board the regular and charter flights to Longyearbyen. Local tour operators, hotels, restaurants and activity providers are being encouraged to pass them on to visitors.’

She concluded, ‘Although our town may appear a bit rough Longyearbyen is renowned for its friendliness and comfort. Many locals are bitten by the “Arctic Bug” and refuse to move southwards. “I only planned to be here for one year, but I’ve been here for many years now,” is something you hear daily,’ she remarked, and something that resonants with Kornfeldt herself who moved to the town a couple of years ago having worked as project manager for several years at VisitOslo.

Longyearbean hopes to have a floating cruise berth in place by 2012 as cruise traffic continues to grows in a season that runs from end May to end August. Whilst expedition ships make up the bulk of turnaround business, transit calls by international cruise ships will number 28 this year, bringing 46,000 passengers.

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