New regulations for access and passage in nature in Svalbard will render safer tourism


Government will outline a clearer framework for access, passage and activity in nature in Svalbard. The aim is to create even safer and better experiences for tourists, while reducing the impact on vulnerable nature.

Published 9/1/2021

Proposed new regulations regarding field safety will now go to public consultation. The proposed new regulations will facilitate sustainable and safe quality products in the tourism industry. The new regulations entail a proposal for a certification scheme for guides.

– The Government emphasizes ensuring equal conditions for all stakeholders in the tourism industry. We therefore propose a framework which will ensure that the industry provides safe experiences for tourists while maintaining safe and stable working conditions for employees, states Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland (H).

The overarching framework for the development of the tourism industry was laid down in the Svalbard white paper to the Storting in 2016. The tourism industry has since seen development on both the supply and demand sides. It is pivotal that the tourism industry is arranged in a manner fostering safety and public security considerations, as well as the ambitious environmental objectives for Svalbard. This presupposes high quality with sufficient competence, systems and standards. The Government proposes a certification scheme for guides, as well as other measures, to ensure this. The proposed regulations will further also entail a clarification and continuation of current practice. There will mainly be minor changes applicable for permanent residents of Svalbard.

– Svalbard is rich in fantastic nature experiences, culture and history. However, the environment in Svalbard remains vulnerable, demanding keen supervision. A new certification scheme for Svalbard-guides will enhance safety for tourists while safeguarding natural and cultural treasures. I favour a tourism industry providing safe, quality experiences as it now resumes activity on a grander scale after the COVID-epidemic, states Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø (V).

The travel industry in Svalbard has been severely affected by the necessary measures implemented as a result of the COVID-pandemic. It is not possible to predict with certainty when activity in the travel industry will resume in its entirety. Nonetheless, Svalbard will unquestionably remain an attractive tourist destination in the future.

– It is imperative that we now set the framework for the travel industry and tourism we prefer in Svalbard after the pandemic, states Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland (H).

The proposed new regulations have been sent by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries to public consultation. In concurrence with the Ministry of Children and Families, the consultation additionally includes a proposal for a separate regulation rendering the Act relating to package travel and travel guarantees etc. of 15th June 2018. No 32 (The Package Travel Act) applicable in its entirety to Svalbard.

– I am satisfied that the rights of travellers in Svalbard and those of travel organisers will now become the same as of those on the mainland. Currently, only the provisions on travel guarantees of the Package Travel Act apply, and this has resulted in numerous misunderstandings, states Minister of Consumer Affairs Kjell Ingolf Ropstad (KrF).

The consultation period has been set to five months, with the deadline for consultation input set to Tuesday 1st of February 2022.

 

The proposed regulations can be found here (in Norwegian only):

Proposed new regulations regarding access and passage in nature in Svalbard on public consultation.