Visit Greenland director gives thanks and evaluates
“I am proud to have put responsible tourism with a focus on sustainability on the agenda.”
On the 26th of February, Julia Pars will have her last day at the office in Nuuk.
After three years as Managing Director of Visit Greenland, Julia Pars will leave the position on the 26th of February to seek new challenges.
“It has been a great honour to be the director of Visit Greenland during a crucial period for tourism in Greenland, in which the dialogue around what kind of tourism development we want has been particularly prominent. It has become clear to me that, in Greenland, we want tourism that is broadly speaking based on three pillars; economic growth, environmental sustainability and consideration for our culture.”
We asked the outgoing Managing Director to take a look back on the last three years and review some of the activities and challenges that have helped shape her time at the helm of Greenland’s national tourism board.
“I am proud to have put responsible tourism with a focus on sustainability on the agenda.”
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What have you been most proud of?
“It has definitely been creating a new strategy with a strong focus on sustainability, and contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the strategy, we have defined four ‘must-wins’ which will contribute towards responsible tourism development with a strong focus on sustainability. Our focus in the strategy stems to a large extent from the “Towards more Tourism” conference in 2018, which had 130 participants from the tourism industry, and which resulted in 11 recommendations for the responsible development of tourism.”
The new strategy was originally launched in February 2020, but COVID-19 required that our marketing focus and activities be reassessed in the strategy. The new, updated strategy has now been published at Strategy 2021-2024 and is valid for the period 2021 – 2024.
“I am particularly pleased that Visit Greenland now has a comprehensive strategy which can act as a beacon for the tourism board’s activities in the coming years. In addition, I am also particularly pleased that Visit Greenland is continuing closer dialogue and contact with the regional DMOs (Destination Management Organisations), which handle tourism development and marketing in the regions. It has been a goal from both sides to strengthen this dialogue. This network has meant that, among other things, it has been easier to meet and discuss operations during COVID-19.”
What has been the biggest challenge?
“It is not surprising that Covid-19 has been challenging, having set the Greenlandic tourism back by 70% in 2020. The pandemic has to some degree affected everyone’s everyday life, as well as the possibility to generate revenue from the tourism industry.
Visit Greenland’s tasks as a tourist board during COVID-19 have focused around maintaining interest in Greenland as a tourist destination and initiating special measures to mitigate the negative consequences for tourism.”
Therefore, Visit Greenland quickly launched the “Nunarput Nuan” campaign, the purpose of which was to stimulate the desire to travel domestically in Greenland. The message to “Travel in your own country” was supported by many other organisations and companies, including the Greenlandic government and the workers’ unions, through domestic holiday packages and the adaptations made to the employer-paid holidays scheme.
“It is gratifying that, despite everything, the campaign – alongside the aid packages which the Greenlandic government initiated – has resulted in a measurable and beneficial effect for many people in the tourism industry.
The beneficial effect is also the reason that Visit Greenland will continue the “Nunarput Nuan” campaign this year, so that domestic activities can support our many tourism operators and accommodation providers during the transition phase.”
How do you see the future for tourism in Greenland?
“On the destination side, we have almost everything that is needed – we should of course work on the reception of our guests, our accessibility, and we should train more local guides and tourism coordinators. Our entrepreneurial spirit must be ignited again; however, much of our country’s natural and cultural uniqueness is already a given. We have over the past couple of years experienced great interest in Greenland from major international media. Despite this, however, it is necessary to make an extra effort to enable tourism in Greenland to return to the same level as before COVID-19. It will be necessary to provide Visit Greenland with additional funding for the purpose of marketing Greenland even more effectively to adventure tourists,” says Julia Pars.
In 2020, Visit Greenland worked intensively to raise funds from the industry for a large, joint branding campaign. They have so far succeeded in attracting five partners to the project, the purpose of which is to increase the visibility of Greenland and create effective communication that leads to more sales of Greenland as a tourist destination from 2022. Visit Greenland, Sermersooq municipality, Air Greenland, Greenland Holding and Sikuki Harbour have all contributed funds, allowing work on the campaign to start. The project is seen as a necessary initiative to re-establish tourism and to create awareness of all the regions of Greenland, before the opening of the new airports.
With the arrival of the vaccines, there is now renewed hope in the tourism industry that travel restrictions can be lifted during 2021.
What are you going to miss?
“The meetings and the dialogue with all the tourism operators in the regions. It has always given good energy to my work to meet with those who, under normal circumstances, work hard every day to service guests and who do their utmost to show the best of Greenland. In addition, I have really enjoyed working with the international team of employees in Visit Greenland, who are all really dedicated to tourism in Greenland. Each and every one of them is an amazing person whom I will miss.”
Is there a special message you would like to pass on?
Broad dialogue is needed
“Tourism development requires ongoing dialogue with all the most important parties in the industry, and framework conditions should be updated so that they contribute to economic growth and sustainability and do not become a barrier. It is, therefore, important to continue the broad dialogue with the industry and the Ministry of Industry about framework conditions.”
We want growth, but we do not want to be overrun
“It is clear that the regions want growth, but not an overrun destination, which was also expressed during the conference “Towards more Tourism”, which resulted in 11 clear recommendations for the responsible development of tourism with a focus on sustainability. This is why Visit Greenland conducts surveys on residents’ attitudes to tourism, and is working on producing a labeling scheme that will help to increase the quality of the Greenlandic tourism product and ensure that we can make a living from tourism for many years to come.”
See more about Towards more Tourism and the 11 recommendations here
We need fast and reliable data
“I also hope that a very important tool – one that will be able to measure that we are on the right track – will be launched soon. For we must of course be able to measure exactly how many tourists we get to the country, how much money they spend each day, and how many
jobs are generated locally through tourism. These are the most important facts for our politicians, our municipalities and for everyone in the tourism industry. Fast and reliable data is needed.
This should occur through the creation of a national Tourism Satellite Account, before we get an even greater influx of travelers.”
Is there something you are looking forward to, and do you have a concluding remark?
“There will be an everyday again after COVID-19 – an everyday in which we once again can sense progress and dynamism in tourism. I will personally look forward to following that. I am proud of and happy with the results realised in Visit Greenland while I have been Director. It is not only my achievement, but to a great extent also the achievement of the board and the staff, all of whom are dedicated to tourism.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the employees, the board and all of you the tourism industry for many positive and constructive meetings about Greenland’s tourism development. I wish you the best of luck with your future work towards sustainable tourism development.”
Julia Pars steps down as Managing Director of Visit Greenland on the 26th February 2021. On behalf of the Greenlandic tourism industry, we thank her for her efforts.
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Behind Greenland's largest travel site is the Visit Greenland that is 100% owned by the Government of Greenland, who is responsible for marketing the country's adventures and opportunities for guests wishing to visit the world's largest island