New guidelines for visiting the world’s most northerly community: Ny-Ålesund
New community specific guidelines have been developed for Ny-Ålesund, the world’s most northerly community, in response to increasing visitor numbers. These guidelines created by Kings Bay, which facilitates the international research activities that take place in high Arctic settlement.
Ny-Ålesund joins the ranks of Longyearbyen (Svalbard), Seyðisfjörður (Iceland) and Sisimiut (Greenland), three Arctic communities that have also created community specific guidelines using a template developed by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).
Ny-Ålesund is a peaceful place, the majority of its residents made up of seasonal international scientific researchers and workers. However, when a cruise ship comes into town the population can expand enormously, albeit temporarily. This might cause some challenges for the remote community, but Kings Bay knows that information and communication are key to tackling any challenge that might occur. Per Erik Hanevold, the director of Kings Bay highlights this issue:
“We hope and think that the new community guidelines for Ny-Ålesund will increase all visitors’ awareness of the uniqueness of this community, as well as the restrictions and rules that are in place. We welcome visitors, and encourage them to explore what the town has to offer,” says Hanevold.
The guidelines have been developed to help cruise ship operators convey important information to their passengers, and make it clear why special measures must be taken when visiting the town to avoid disturbance. The settlement is a unique international research station, with many researchers from all over the world residing there during the summer season. The research and environmental monitoring that takes place in Ny-Ålesund requires special considerations. The sensitive instruments can easily be disturbed by radio emitting devices such as mobile phones, resulting in inaccurate data. Local guidelines have been created to avoid interfering with natural science research. This includes restrictions when it comes to walking on fragile tundra or disturbing wildlife.
AECO sees the guidelines as an opportunity to ensure better information flow between communities and cruise operators and mutually beneficial visits.
“Ny-Ålesund is a hugely interesting research site that also has played an important role in the modern history of Svalbard. The significance of the research that is carried out here leads to the environment being very sensitive. The best way to ensure that Ny-Ålesund stays accessible to cruise ship visitors is by adhering to guidelines that minimize the overall impact of visits,” says Frigg Jørgensen, executive director of AECO.