The whole speech is available below.
By Anne Nivíka Grødem, Acting Director of Visit Greenland
I would like to start by thanking Greenland Business for once again carrying out the important task of creating a platform for dialogue.
A platform that brings people together to talk about the visions we each have for the future, and to provide an opportunity to share perspectives with each other.
A new agenda for growth – what does it take – from vision to action. This is the headline of this year’s Future Greenland conference.
When we talk about growth, visions and actions, we must also talk about economic, social and environmental sustainability.
We do tend to focus our discussion on economic sustainability. This is important, and I did not come to challenge that.
Instead, I will use this speech to bring a different perspective to the conversation. A perspective that to a greater extent speaks into “væredygtighed”. “Væredygtighed” (a combination of at være – to be and bæredygtighed – sustainability) refers to the awareness behind our actions, and the processes that are rooted in what it means to BE – through the eyes of the community.
A perspective that is about how, together, we can create the tourism of the future in Greenland. A perspective that focuses on the development of tourism for the benefit of the whole of Greenland.
Because we are clearly facing an exciting future, with a great international focus on the Arctic and Greenland. New infrastructure in the form of new airports. A new national tourism strategy, and a new tourism law in the pipeline. All of these initiatives can contribute to creating a framework for growth in the field of tourism.
Throughout this process, as Director of Visit Greenland, I am concerned with how we ensure that tourism development creates growth throughout the country, and how we ensure that the local economy does not become too vulnerable in an uncertain world, which is characterised by the aftermath of a pandemic, the climate crisis and war.
Aaja Chemnitz Larsen said so nicely yesterday: “If we want to create growth – we must create a strong society.”
Therefore, we must focus on the fact that growth and development are rooted in our society. That goals and visions are require participation from everyone. That we have ownership over the vision of the future we are navigating towards, so that we achieve sustainable development that we can brand ourselves on.
At Visit Greenland, we have a goal for 2024, by which time we want to ensure that 80% of the population sees tourism development as value-creating.
Because if we really want sustainable growth and development, and if we want to move from visions to actions, then we must realise that, at the end of the day, societal development is enabled by human beings.
People who want something. People who have a common vision and who are motivated by it.
This is why we must dare to listen. Listen to each other’s perspectives. Dare to get into the difficult conversations where we can feel that something is at stake. Because this is exactly where the driving force and sustainability are found.
We need to talk to each other, even to those we do not usually talk to. Talk about the future we envision. About the future we want.
And where is a better place to talk about the future than here – at a Future Greenland conference?
We’ve been talking about collaboration for almost two days now, so I want to test how cooperative you really are. Let me invite you on a little boat trip. An experiment.
We need to get out of our heads, and into our bodies. I know this might put some of you out of your comfort zone, but I hope you still have the courage to try. Feel free to close your eyes if it makes it easier.
Imagine for a second that the world is standing still. That, in the next few minutes, we can look into the future, completely free of charge. See what Future Greenland looks like – feels like – and how it is experienced.
Whether you are sitting in the crowd as a guest, or whether you are local to Greenland – hop on board. Imagine that you are sailing to somewhere in Greenland in 2025. You decide where. It can be the city you like the most, or a place you have always wanted to visit.
What do you see?
In what ways has tourism created value for the community where you are?
What is it like to be a guest? What is it like to be a host? In Greenland 2050.
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As a guest in my future, I see a city where tourism development is a natural part of society. Development that actually stems from the locals.
I experience that as a guest I am perceived as a temporary local. There is clear contact with the locals. I find that we share many of the same values, and I find it easy to get a glimpse of Greenlandic culture and history.
No matter what time of year I come, there are plenty of opportunities for unique experiences. Experiences that relate to the life that is lived right here.
As a guest in Greenland in 2050 – I am not a spectator, but a participant.
As a guest, I am a temporary local.
As a host in my future, I feel that we are all destination owners – and that this ownership binds us together.
We naturally take on the role of host for our country, our society and our culture. Just like we’ve always been so good at.
By 2050, we have undergone major societal development, which has created growth and welfare. At the same time, we have preserved our authenticity.
We understand how to turn our everyday lives and realities into unique experience products that we can make money from – all year round, and throughout Greenland.
The development of tourism is naturally linked to the realities we live in. For these realities are the reason that we are an attractive place to live in and visit.
As host in 2050 I am not an “extra” in my own country.
But this is a great place to live, and a great place to visit.
Thank you for stepping into the future with me. That was my vision for the future. I hope you feel like sharing with each other what you saw, how it felt to stand in your future – and how it differs from the present.
Sustainable growth and local commitment go hand in hand. At Visit Greenland, we are focusing on economic, social and environmental sustainability.
We are focusing on how the new airports benefits the whole of Greenland, and we are working together to ensure that our guests are distributed throughout the country. Because all towns and villages have a true story to tell.
We know that the locals at the destinations know best about their unique development opportunities. This is why we work closely with the regional DMOs to develop tourism into a year-round business – not just in the big cities.
When we market Greenland as a destination, we must make sure that the marketing we do resonates in our society, and that it matches the guests’ experiences.
When we market Greenland as a destination, we not only attract guests – we also attract new investments and skilled labour. Thus, we are indirectly pointing to the future in which we want Greenland to develop.
Therefore, we must ask ourselves whether it is the destination that defines its guests, or the guests that define the destination? And which is most sustainable?
So now we’re back where we started. Because I mean it. We need to talk to each other. Dare to listen to each other’s perspectives. Dare to get into the difficult conversations where we can feel that something is at stake. Because this is where the driving force and sustainability are found.
We must talk to each other about the future we envision. About the future we want – so we can go from vision to action.
If we continue down the path we’ve always walked, or uncritically follow the path that others have trodden for us, where do we end up then? And is that where we want to go? I am not here to provide all the solutions. But I do bring my perspective to the conversation.
From Visit Greenland’s side, we want to help create a platform for that dialogue. Because our goal is precisely that tourism development must create value for the Greenlandic population.
Now, you may be thinking, yes – this is all very well, but what does it cost? Does everything not take too long, if we all have to talk to each other? And isn’t it awkward to have to deal with all those people who don’t think the same as me? Can we afford it at all?
To that, I answer: Can we afford not to? Can we really afford that tourism development is not rooted in our society?
*The speech in the video is in Danish