Greenland, being the biggest island in the world, is divided into four main regions: North Greenland from Kangaatsiaq and north to Qaanaaq, West Greenland between Sisimut and Paamiut, including the capital of Nuuk, South Greenland between Aappilattoq to Arsuk and East Greenland from Isortoq to Ittoqqortoomiit, including the Greenlandic National Park.
The Greenlandic tourism has a long history, reaching more than hundred years back to 1900 when Mylius – Erichsen´s expedition took place.
The Danish explorer came up with the idea of bringing to Greenland tourists, but the thought was rejected due to the difficult weather conditions.
However the large scale tourism had its turnover in the middle of 20th century and became one of the largest industries in Greenland, playing significant role for the local economy, including air and sea transportation, services like logging, catering and trade with indigenous handcrafts. There is no research showing exact figures on the total economic impact of tourism on the society, however it was measured that the number of visitors increases during the Arctic short summer period to reach almost 7.000 in July and August. Outside of the peak season, the number significantly decreases, going down to less than 1.000 during December and January.
Statistics show that most of the tourists in Greenland come from Scandinavia, mainly Denmark and other northern, European countries. Most of the travelers, more than 50% visit Greenland for pleasure and holiday, almost 20 % of visitors come there with regards to business and around 30%, to visit friends and family members. It is very difficult to measure the definite purpose for the visit as very often tourists would combine various activities.
There are 13 airports in Greenland and those can be seen in the Interactive Mapping System. International ports of entries are located in Kangerlussuaq or Narsarsuaq, but some international traffic, mainly from Iceland, is also directed to Kulusuk and Nuuk. Passengers and cargo loads are serviced by Mittarfeqarfiit, the Greenlandic Airport Authority, which is owned by the Government of Greenland. In addition to domestic airports and international ports of entries, there are six heliports and around forty helistops located all around the Islands. Heliports located in the most remote settlements can provide with the air traffic operations during difficult winter weather conditions.
There are sixteen sea ports around the Greenlandic coast. All of them can be seen in our interactive database. There are close to 250 harbours, surrounding Greenlandic coast, both fishing and piers with pontoon and mooring facilities.
The largest harbours are located in the capital city – Nuuk, Sisimiut and Aasiaat. All together, they handle close to one million cubic metres of cargo annually which is close to 70 % of total cargo coming to Greenland. Passengers and cruises can be serviced only by Nuuk, Sisimiut and Ilulissat harbours. The port in Nuuk is the biggest and more than 50 % of all passengers cruise traffic is serviced right there.
The road infrastructure in Greenland consists of approximately 120 km of the asphalt network and could be mainly found in the capital city – Nuuk. Some of the gravel roads, connecting the farms around the southern part of the country can be found but otherwise, there are no roads to connect towns.
The crossdisciplinary approach to current tourism activity is nowadays the main concern for the government of Greenland. The increasing traffic towards the northern hemisphere allocates both challenges and opportunities with regards to Greenlandic economy, society and culture. The protection of natural environment and its resources calls for sustainability in infrastructure development activities.
The establishment of international cooperation between all Arctic states with regards to environmental friendly transit of people and goods to Greenland was created as the Nordic Strategy for Development of Sustainable Tourism. Greenland also participates in networks on tourism in the West Atlantic region. The expansion of research would benefit indigenous inhabitants of the world´s biggest island.
Source: Statistics Greenland