Tourism in Greenland should be restarted with sustainability first on the agenda

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This is precisely the kind of strength and courage it takes to rise up after a crisis. The Greenlandic tourism industry is ready to get going again after the crisis, so let’s do it with sustainability first on the agenda.

Published on August 24, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world that everything can change within a very short period of time. It was a dramatic slowdown for a Greenlandic tourism industry that had previously been growing. A crisis. But remember, crises do pass. As an industry, we will come back stronger and more resilient than before. Because when the world travels again, there will be many people who want to travel to Greenland.

The crisis has given us time to learn. Thanks to staycation, more people have discovered the potential of our domestic market, while we have also reflected on and pondered what the lack of international tourists means for tourism as a whole.

We can gradually see the light at the end of the tunnel. The world is traveling again, and hopefully tourists will soon be allowed, in larger amounts, to travel to Greenland.

So let’s kickstart a strong and resilient tourism industry with sustainability – economic sustainability, social and cultural sustainability, and environmental sustainability.

Overall, it can be said that sustainability equals optimisations that are long-term and secure. Optimisations that will result in a strengthened local economy, optimisations that will result in local and social commitment, and optimisations that will reduce negative impacts on nature and culture.

Sustainability is not a distant concept for Greenland. Life has always occurred in harmony with nature and culture, with respect for the elements and with a desire to leave the land intact for future generations. So sustainability is also about reactivating old knowledge. And in this way, we as an industry can show the way and become leaders in sustainability: sustainability in a Greenlandic context.

Sustainable tourism in Greenland is, for example:

  • future-proofing the industry.
  • safeguarding the future of culture and nature.
  • ensuring more year-round employment in the tourism industry.
  • ensuring a geographical expansion of tourism.
  • ensuring quality and safety for the tourist.
  • that operators and local communities get the best possible economic benefit from tourism.
  • that young people in Greenland are educated and use their skills in the tourism industry.
  • that the industry is supplied with an increase in competencies and digitalisation.

5 suggestions as to what can make Greenland’s tourism industry sustainable after a crisis


Few emails, low or no activity has become everyday. But it’s time to get back to the keyboard. Tourists and agents have also changed – they have become unsure, afraid to make efforts in vain and afraid that the experiences they seek no longer exist, so they need to be nursed more than ever. Failure to respond to inquiries will only reinforce their belief that our industry is still on hold. Or that your company has not survived the crisis. One response to one inquiry creates a positive feedback loop that offers potential revenue, positive publicity, more customers, focus on the destination, and additional revenue locally. Customers need security now more than ever, and it is your task to give them that security, through clear and distinct communication, and visibility on the platforms that they trust.

“Digital skills increase security and boost tourists’ confidence. The digitalisation of the tourism industry is an important step in upgrading the sector to become more resilient.”


New ways of thinking make it exciting to get started again. Some products may need to be dusted off and spruced up a bit. The tourists who visit Greenland are inquisitive and long for authentic experiences in the magnificent nature and culture, and now, more than ever before, they seek out operators who have sustainability on their agenda.

Do your products contribute as much as possible locally, and do they target the tourist segments that visit Greenland? Targeting products creates more business. So think carefully about sustainability, about how your storytelling creates a powerful experience, and about how your pricing attracts the most customers.

Quality can also be added by cutting something out – for example, by reducing fuel consumption, or the use of disposable plastic, bottled water or chemicals for cleaning. It is not a downgrade if you do not serve imported bottled water on your tours – on the contrary, it is a quality. It is an active choice you have made for sustainability, and you can encourage tourists to fill their bottles with the world’s best drinking water. This creates more value in the product and simultaneously lowers your costs.

“We buy as much as possible locally. Locally-sourced raw materials are at the core of our products and of the authentic experience we offer. This is, in our eyes, quality and sustainability at the same time.”


It only takes one (uncontrolled) accident to affect the entire industry. Therefore, safety is not the place to cut corners when you need to restart quickly after a crisis. The long-term consequences of a failure in safety are anything but sustainable.

Tourists and agents are desperate to send people on holiday, but at the same time have become more aware than ever before of whether safety measures are in place.

Do you have safety equipment, and do you and your staff show guests what to do if an accident occurs?

Do you fully understand your business insurance? How is the customer covered in your products? What have you done to reduce the risk of infection, and how have you communicated this to your customers?

Having your safety measures in order shows that you have a broad and long-term perspective on your business, and this is sustainable.

“Our customers are insured from the moment they begin their trip until they are home again. And as of recently our insurance also covers dogsledding. We put great importance on safety, and take our responsibility very seriously. We apply for funding so that our staff can get educated, and all of them have completed a first aid course. Preparation for each individual tour is important to achieve the highest safety standards – all sleds are equipped with a first aid box, sleeping bag, extra suits, a VHF radio, and a satellite phone. When we travel far with customers on the dogsled, we always have one or more snow scooters with us. They can drive ahead and create tracks over glaciers or call for help quickly. Planning and having a good overview makes the customer feel secure – we can clearly see this,”


One of the industry’s most important tasks is to create jobs and support knowledge and education in tourism. As operators, you can help to secure the long-term sustainability of the industry by taking in interns or setting up tours involving young people. In this way, you can help to ensure that knowledge about and interest in the tourism industry is disseminated. The more guides, sailors, mushers, bus drivers, and pilots that Greenland itself can provide, the better position we will be in, the day that growth picks up again.

“We have spent a couple of wonderful summer weeks with children in the mountains, sharing our joy of being outdoors, and hopefully leaving an impression on the kids. Their joy and interest in nature is so immediate – it’s already in them and just needs to be activated. We hope that trips like this help young people to bond with nature and the opportunities it brings, both culinary and experiential. It’s awesome to see them flourishing on the world’s coolest playground.”


The tourism industry has a wide economic value chain, and it can actually be difficult to delineate what does not fall under tourism. As a result, there is huge potential in creating local partnerships. Partnerships that can provide economic and developmental benefits locally.

Why buy magnets in China when a local artist can make a more beautiful and unique product? When your product radiates quality, you will always be able to pass on the extra cost to the consumer.

Why not serve food made from local ingredients, on locally produced ceramics, and with Greenlandic music or storytelling in the background?

Only your imagination sets the limits on how you can collaborate locally as well as regionally. And one thing is for sure; tourists love experiences that challenge multiple senses with new and wild impressions.

We are all teammates on Team Greenland, and our goal is to create the best experience for the customer. The competitors are not here in Greenland. They are the other destinations which are also striving to create the best and most unique experience for the customer.

Therefore, cooperation is always a good springboard to get started, especially after a crisis.

“Three local tourism companies have joined forces to develop winter experiences here in South Greenland. To develop them, we made use of expertise from two other regions in Greenland. I am extremely proud of the operators’ willingness to invest in and contribute to such a large project, even during a crisis that has hit our industry hard. I have experienced a very inspiring collaboration, and cannot wait to release the marketing film.”

Article by Hlif Linnetved

Hlif is a former member of the B2B and Press team. Currently, Hlif is, Head of Sustainability, at Visit Greenland and very engaged in how sustainability empowers business and market development in tourism.