The new Northern Lights tourism

Lead Author Steinar, Thorvaldsen
Institution Contact University of Tromso, The Arctic University of Norway ILP Mellomveien 110 9037 Tromso, NORWAY
Theme Theme 5: New Markets for the Arctic, including Trade, Tourism and Transportation
Session Name 5.1 Arctic Tourism Futures
Datetime Thu, Sep 15, 2016 01:20 PM - 01:40 PM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text This new kind of winter tourism started quite suddenly when nice pictures and videos started to appear over Internet. It was further initiated by some impressive TV-programs revealing “Nature’s own light show”. The tourist industry had to catch up and develop step by step to meet the growing demand. Today the volume is estimated to be around 500 000 tourists each year, and about 20% use Tromso and the North of Norway as their location. In the season 2014/15 the trade was close to 40 million euro for the Tromso region.

Much of the arctic regions are ideally located in the middle of the Northern Lights zone. Winter tourists can choose between Northern Lights cruise packages, Northern Lights tours and Short Northern Lights breaks, with stay at an “unforgettable” hotel and adventurous activities such as dog sledding, snow mobile safari, whale safari, reindeer sledge & king crab fishing.

The snowy wilds of Canada and Alaska are fine viewing spots, but for many tourists it may be more affordable, and convenient, to fly to northern Scandinavia, Iceland, or northern Russia. It is possible to see the lights from late September to early April, with October to November and February to March considered optimum periods.

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is caused by solar winds that meet the atmosphere in a belt around the magnetic North Pole, forming arches, waves and curls of light moving across the sky, with sudden rays of light shooting down from space. The activity is correlated with the sunspots, with its well-known 11-years cycle, and this fact will challenge the sustainability of this special kind of tourism. The industry will need more installations and centers to back up the arctic tourism. In Tromso we are discussing to build a big “Northern Lights Globe” to support the tourist activity.