(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 8 March 2013) -- The national park “Russian Arctic” could have had 20-25 000 more tourists if it had been easier to get a visa and if there had been a border-crossing point on Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land, the park’s administration says according to the web site travel.ru. The national park lacks every kind of infrastructure, but this is precisely what the tourists come to experience. The Russian settlements of Svalbard are other places that many foreign visitors would like to visit if it was easier accessible. Norwegian hotels on Svalbard are visited by nearly 80.000 people every year, with an annual growth of 10 percent over the last years. Meanwhile, the Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Piramida draw less than 2500 people annually. The niche of Arctic winter tourism is booming as the world opens its eyes for the combination of winter, ocean and northern lights, and tourists are willing to pay a high price to experience the untouched nature. Russia has big plans for developing tourism in the Arctic. The national park “Russian Arctic” was established in 2011. It includes the northern part of Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land and Victoria Island and covers almost 1,5 million hectares of territory. The Russian Federal Tourism Agency is planning to develop a brand that can help promote the Russian part of Svalbard as a tourist destination, as BarentsObserver wrote.
Posted 10 March 2013; 6:51:04 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review) -- As the largest town outside the capital region, Akureyri (pop. 17,000), is the industrial and service capital for North Iceland as well as a center for culture and education with strong historical roots and numerous tourist attractions. The Artists’ Alley is the town’s cultural center and one of its most colorful attractions. The alley is literally crawling with bohemians and art lovers during the annual Summer Art Festival from mid-June to the end of August. Akureyri has fostered some of Iceland’s most beloved writers and their spirits greet visitors in their homes-cum-museums, and at the local Folk Museum visitors can learn about the town’s history since Helgi magri (“the skinny”) settled there in the 9th century. The Akureyri Theater, the only professional theater outside the capital region, is also worth a visit.
Posted 18 April 2012; 11:05:15 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 12 April 2012) -- Russia is planning to launch a tourism project on the Franz Josef archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, Russian security chief Nikolai Patrushev said on Thursday. “We want to use it [the archipelago] for tourism purposes in the very near future,” Patrushev, the head of the Russian Security Council, said during an international conference dedicated to security and cooperation in the Arctic held in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. One of the most remote and rugged Arctic landscapes in the world, Franz Josef Land is located to the north of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and consists of 191 ice-covered islands with a total area of some 16,230 square miles. The islands are almost uninhabited, except for several hamlets built by Russian settlers. Patrushev, along with a group of foreign participants in the conference, visited the archipelago on Wednesday. He said it was the first time foreigners have set foot there. Environmentalists say the move will not damage the unique Arctic ecosystems, as high costs of $15,000-$20,000 per person and a short tourist season lasting from mid-July to mid-September, will serve as a natural limit for the number of visitors. “This is quite a normal occurence. This summer we will organize a similar tour for our supporters with stops at the Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. This would be a predominantly sea cruise with minimum time ashore. Tourists would mainly watch bird colonies or, for example, walrus breeding grounds from the ship,” Mikhail Stishov, a WWF Russia coordinator for Arctic conservation projects, said.
Posted 18 April 2012; 12:57:21 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/Barents Observer, 21 February 2012) -- To ensure safety at sea in the vulnerable fjords of Svalbard Norway is establishing a system for compulsory pilotage on the Arctic Archipelago. Compulsory pilotage in the fjords of Svalbard is an issue that has been discussed for many years. Many of the fjords on Svalbard are quite dangerous with strong torrents and narrow fairways. The decree on pilotage will be put into force gradually. Already this summer, vessels going to the Svea coal mine will need to have a pilot onboard. From 2013 all passenger vessels with a length of 150 meters or more, which means all larger cruise vessels, will need a pilot when going into one of the fjords on Svalbard. Compulsory pilotage will come fully into force from the sailing season of 2014. All boats longer than 70 meters and all passenger vessels longer than 24 meters will then need to have a pilot when entering one of the fjords. Smaller boats used for tourist cruises and day trips can apply for exemption from the compulsory pilotage if the navigator on board has a Pilot Exemption Certificate, Svalbardposten writes.
Posted 27 February 2012; 11:10:28 PM. Permalink
(TASS via Voice of Russia, 20 January 2012) -- A tourist zone will be created on the premises of the Russian Arctic National Park in the north of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and on the islands of Franz Josef Land. According to local officials, the construction of helicopter pads and harbors to receive cruise vessels will begin this summer. Former polar stations and deserted military bases will be transformed into tourist centers and virgin territories will be open only for research. The Russian Arctic, the northernmost nature reserve in Eurasia, is home to the biggest colonies of birds and rookeries in the Northern Hemisphere. It is populated by polar bears, Greenland whales, white seagulls and other Red Book species.
Posted 24 January 2012; 1:50:24 PM. Permalink
(Reuters, 27 November 2011) -- A multimillionaire Chinese developer is livid at Iceland's rejection of his plan to build a sprawling resort, saying it reveals western "hypocrisy and deep prejudice". Foreigners also wrongly assume Chinese companies automatically have ties to China's military, Huang Nubo said in comments published in Chinese media on Sunday. The Iceland government on Friday rejected a bid by Huang to buy 300 sq km (186 sq miles) on the island nation because it did not meet legal requirements on foreign ownership. Some commentators had said the plan raised questions over regional security because of Iceland's strategic location in the Arctic where a number of nations are competing for resources, suggesting that Huang could be a surrogate for Chinese expansionism. "I'm not buying land, I'm investing in tourism infrastructure," Huang said in an interview with Sina Finance, an online news service. "The difficulties that Chinese enterprises encounter are numerous, like the view that state-owned enterprises represent your country, that whatever your background is you're a military business and touch on national security." ... "The denial reflects the unjust and parochial investment environment facing private Chinese enterprises abroad," he told the [China Daily] newspaper. Huang had agreed to pay 1 billion Iceland krona ($8.3 million) to buy Grimsstadir farm in northeast Iceland, where he planned to build a golf course, hotel and outdoor recreation area. But Iceland's Interior Ministry said on Friday that the deal did not meet legal requirements for land sales to companies outside the European Economic Area, including that company directors must be Icelandic citizens or permanent residents for at least five years, and that 80 percent of shares in purchasing firms should be held by Icelandic citizens.
Posted 28 November 2011; 3:07:58 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 22 April 2011) -- A Russian youth group has reached the North Pole after covering more than 100 kilometers on skis, the president of the Polyus Expedition Center, Irina Orlova, said on Friday. The group seven young men and women between 16 and 18 years old, along with their adult guides Matvei Shparo and Boris Smolin, were delivered to 1 degree latitude from the North Pole and skied 111 kilometers (almost 69 miles) for seven days to reach their goal. "They have set up camp on the Pole," Orlova told RIA Novosti. She said that the group should be picked up on Saturday and taken to the Russian Barneo Base by helicopter if weather permits. "If the weather is good, then helicopters will take the youths and the adults to Barneo tomorrow," Orlova said. The seven youths from Russia's Chuvashia, Orlov Region, Omsk, Cheboksar, Perm Region, Vologda Region, and Moscow were chosen among 50 candidates vying for the chance to ski to the North Pole. The expedition was organized by the charitable foundation Priklyuchenie Club (Adventure Club) and the Russian Ministry of Sports and Tourism under the auspices of the Russian Geographic Society, as well as the Association of the North Pole Expedition Center Polyus.
Posted 23 April 2011; 11:04:54 PM. Permalink
(Rachel d'Oro/Anchorage Daily News, 3 April 2011) -- Alaska Natives have established a solid foundation in the state's tourism industry, captivating visitors with their dances and songs, their art and a history as varied as the tribes themselves. Much of the cultural boom is found at cruise ship ports, Alaska's large cities and points along the state's minimal road system. But travel experts say independent travelers are increasingly venturing to isolated villages to experience life with descendants of the continent's first inhabitants on their ancient grounds, a trend that could be confirmed by a summer visitor survey planned by the Alaska Travel Industry Association. Whatever the venue, Alaska Natives represent an "authentic experience" for many travelers, said association president Ron Peck. "Yes, they come to see the beauty that is Alaska," he said. "But the truth of the matter is, as they come here, they want to be more experiential. They want to learn about these cultures."
Posted 4 April 2011; 4:21:30 PM. Permalink
(Nunatsiaq News, 21 February 2011) -- Adventure Canada, the Mississauga, Ont.-based adventure travel company, has taken a majority stake in a new partnership with Makivik-Corp. owned Cruise North Expeditions, Cruise North announced last week. Cruise North Expeditions said it would will continue to offer Arctic cruises “with the cultural content and Inuit staffing that has become a trademark of Cruise North Expeditions.” The merger comes after both companies suffered unexpected crises last year. The Clipper Adventurer, operated by Adventure Canada, ran aground Aug. 27 east of Kugluktuk, after running into an underwater cliff. ... The Cruise North web site shows its 2011 cruises will continue to use the Clipper Adventurer’s sister ship, the Lyubov Orlova, which also had a rough season in 2010. The Lyubov Orvlova was waylaid in St. John’s in June after inspectors found problems with a mechanical piping system, The Lyubov Orlova was in port for 15 days, before being cleared by inspectors last July 9. But that was too late for Cruise North’s first trip of the season, an 11-night trip from St. John’s to Kuujjuaq, via the Labrador coast. Canadian officials then seized the Lyubov Orlova Sept. 24 because its Russian owner, Oleg Uliyanchenko, alleged to owe more than $250,000 to Cruise North. More than 50 Russian and Ukrainian crew members were also owed more than $350,000 in wages. After being stranded in St. John’s for more two months, they finally left in December. Starting in 2012, Adventure Canada and Cruise North Expeditions continue plan to offer joint cruises with Inuit staff, itineraries and programs specially designed to bring benefit and opportunity to the people who call the Arctic home, the Feb. 16 news release says. Cruise North Expeditions was founded in 2005 by Makivik and, since then, the company earned a place on Conde Nast Traveller’s prestigious “Green List” for its “environmental efforts and commitment to helping preserve Inuit culture through tourism.”
Posted 2 March 2011; 9:21:00 AM. Permalink
(Barents Observer, 22 February 2011) -- The Northernmost fortress in the world, Vardøhus Fortress, will get much-needed repairs. The walls around Vardøhus Fortress in Norway’s easternmost town of Vardø are in bad shape and are about to fall out. The Ministry of Defense has now decided to allocate NOK 6 million to rebuild the walls, Finnmarken reports. The parts of the wall that are in bad shape will be taken to pieces and rebuilt, using the same rocks. The work will take place in April-October 2011. "It is important to preserve our historical monuments for the coming generations," says Minister of defense Grete Faremo. "Our fortresses are an expression of our national identity." Vardøhus Fortress is located in Norway’s easternmost town, Vardø. The first fortification here was built around 1300, when Norway was in conflict with the Russian Republic of Novgorod. The current star shaped fortress was erected in 1738.
Posted 25 February 2011; 11:43:27 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 11 February 2011) -- A new campaign to sell Canada's North as a year-round tourism destination has received a $3.5 million from the federal government. Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced the four-year funding in Whitehorse on Friday, saying the money will be for a pan-territorial marketing campaign to market the North to southern Canadians as a "unique and dynamic place to visit." Aglukkaq said the campaign builds on the success of Northern House, a cultural venue that showcased Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon to visitors at last year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver. "This investment today is new money to further market the three territories, so that the three territories can reach [their] full potential within this area," said Aglukkaq, who is also the Conservative MP for Nunavut. The funding comes from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and will go to the Pan North Consortium, which consists of government and tourism officials from each of the three territories. The consortium was behind the Northern House project, as well as the "Look Up North" pan-northern marketing campaign during the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse.
Posted 13 February 2011; 3:34:20 PM. Permalink
(Thomas Nilsen/BarentsObserver, 11 January 2011) -- A delegation from Russia’s Arctic Yamal Peninsula is in Finland this week to discuss the plans for active tourism cooperation. The plan is to create an Arctic tourism centre in the city of Salekhard, the capital of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, reports Voice of Russia. Finland has over the last decades created massive winter tourism in Lapland, and the delegation from Yamal will study the Finnish experiences.
Posted 16 January 2011; 2:44:41 AM. Permalink
(Trude Pettersen/BarentsObserver, 14 January 2011) -- Prince Harry of Wales plans to join four wounded British Army veterans when they attempt to trek 320km from Russia to the North Pole in March. The men were all injured on the front line in Afghanistan. The British charity “Walking With The Wounded” aims to get the badly injured servicemen across the polar ice cap, unsupported, BBC reports. The final expedition names have now been announced, together with news that Prince Harry - third in line to the throne and patron of the charity - intends to go with them for part of the way. The team’s Polar Guide will be Norwegian Polar explorer Inge Solheim. The expedition starts from the Russian ice camp of Barneo in late March, the expediton’s web site reads. Before this, the team will spend one week on Svalbard for acclimatization. The team plans to spend 20-25 days on the 320-km-long trek to the North Pole.
Posted 16 January 2011; 12:13:17 AM. Permalink
(Thomas Nilsen/BarentsObserver, 1 December 2010) -- Snow hotels and even snow villages are under construction at nine locations in the Barents Region. November has been extra cold this year and the first snow hotel has already welcomed its first overnight guests. The Jukkasjärvi snow hotel in northern Sweden opened two weeks ago with 60 rooms, a month earlier than previous winter season. The Jukkasjärvi hotel also has a large main hall, an ice bar and a special designed snow- and ice entrance. More than 50 people – ice and snow sculptors, lighting designers and others were involved in the construction of the near 600 square meter building. Snow hotels are also under construction in Kirkenes and Alta in northern Norway. In Finnish Lapland four snow hotels will be open this winter. The Lainio Snow Village Hotel has in addition to 20 igloos and seven ice suits also a snow-restaurant and Europe’s largest ice-bar. Three other snow hotels are located near Kemi, in Ylläs and just south of Saariselkä. This winter season’s largest snow- and ice construction will however be at the Levi ski-resort in Finland. Opening on December 17th, Europe’s largest ever ice-sculpture village will open. Named “Wonderworld of Ice” it will contain ice huge sculptures of buildings lighted with special colours LED-lights. The ice-models are well-known sights from China and other parts of the world, including the Beijing Olympic Stadium, a labyrinth and a Pagoda of ice are the most recognisable examples of architecture. Sixty professionals are currently building Levi’s Wonderworld of Ice. In Kirovsk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula, another snow village are under construction. The fairytale-look snow constructions include both buildings and activities for children, including a large number of slides, reports GTRK Murman. The snow village will also get a real theatre with a large screen. An ice-sculpture festival will be arranged in late January. The southernmost snow hotel in the Barents Region will be opened in the village of Kononvskaya in Arkhangelsk Oblast. Last winter season was the first time this snow hotel was built, decorated with many fascinating ice-sculptures and designed specialities.
Posted 1 December 2010; 11:46:35 AM. Permalink
(Tom Sullivan/Radio Sweden, 15 November 2010) -- Depopulation is a growing problem across Sweden. The far north is
particularly affected as the population ages, fewer babies are born and
young people leave. A major mineral find is often seen as the last hope
for dwindling communities to hold onto their young people. Yet the
region boasts other natural resources – an unspoilt wilderness, the
Northern Lights, a unique indigenous culture, and one of the longest
skiing seasons in Europe. And unusual, high-end tourist attractions may
be one way of attracting more people to the region. [Listen to the item online from the title link or it's the last item in the show mp3 file here.]
Posted 18 November 2010; 11:13:52 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 9 November 2010) -- When Jan-Erik Henriksen and Nina Hermansen, Saami from northern Norway, went ice fishing with Anna Kaotalok, Jerry Puglik, Doug Crossley and David Omilgoitok at Kitigak Lake near Cambridge Bay earlier this month, the two Saami found the excursion familiar — but also different from what they’re used to back home. First, the fishing was different because the lake fish were much larger than in Norway, the two Saami said. Secondly, the weather was much colder than they see in northern Norway at this time of year. And you wouldn’t see a herd of muskox wander by back home, either, Henriksen and Hermansen said. But, at the same time, jigging through the ice felt familiar to them, because Saami also survived for thousands of years by fishing — and herding reindeer — in the Arctic regions of northern Europe. Henriksen and Hermansen, who teach at Finnmark University College in Alta, Norway, arrived in Cambridge Bay on Oct. 27 to learn more about Nunavut and Nunavut Arctic College’s programs. Finnmark University College offers bachelor of arts degrees in social work and a masters degree in social work through UArctic, whose north2north exchange program, along with Norway’s Saami parliament, sponsored the two instructors’ trip of one week in Cambridge Bay and another week in Yellowknife. During a visit to one of the community’s schools, where Henriksen gave a presentation about Saami, he was reminded of his own youth in the 1970s when none of his teachers were Saami — a situation that has now changed, he said. Today in Norway, home to about 80,000 Saami, there are Saami teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses, dentists and other professionals.
Posted 11 November 2010; 3:50:50 PM. Permalink
(Globe and Mail, 30 August 2010) -- The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen have rescued the passengers of a cruise ship that ran aground on an uncharted rock in Nunavut's Coronation Gulf. The MV Clipper Adventurer became stranded around 7 p.m. MT Friday while making its way from Port Epworth to Kugluktuk. Efforts by the crew to dislodge the vessel during high tide on Saturday were unsuccessful. All 118 passengers, as well as the crew, are safe and unharmed, cruise operator Adventure Canada said. Company CEO Matthew Swan described the ship as "completely stable." "There is a list of about 4.5 degrees to the port side, but there doesn't seem to be any damage that we can detect." He said skies were sunny and waters calm for the last two days, so a lot of people just relaxed on deck. The Amundsen was dispatched to the scene from the Beaufort Sea. Coast Guard spokeswoman Theresa Nichols said the passengers were transferred to the icebreaker beginning Sunday around 4 p.m. ET and that it was completed in later in the evening. "All of the passengers were transferred to the Amundsen," she said. "They're all in good health." The Clipper's crew is expected to remain on the idled ship for now, she said, adding that there has been no pollution, such as oil, spilled in the water because of the incident. Swan said he didn't know what might be done to free the ship. Nichols said any decisions on assistance for the vessel will be made by Transport Canada. The icebreaker was taking the tourists to Kugluktuk and they will be flown to Edmonton.
Posted 29 August 2010; 10:44:01 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 19 July 2010) -- Three women who embarked on a 650-km trek across Iceland 30 days ago will complete their journey today when they walk the remaining 35 kilometers to Fontur, the outermost point of Langanes peninsula in northeast Iceland. “The atmosphere is great and the journey has been amazingly successful. Some parts were more difficult than others but it becomes easier when we think back on it as often happens,” one of the walkers, Kristín Jóna Hilmarsdóttir, told Morgunbladid. Her traveling companions are Anna Lára Edvardsdóttir and Margrét Hallgrímsdóttir. “What stands out is to have waded the powerful Thjórsá river up to our waists—we had to get help crossing it,” Hilmarsdóttir described. “We also met [Finance Minister] Steingrímur J. Sigfússon on the Öxarfjardarheidi heath. He’s from this district and was the first to walk this path called Steimgrímsstígur,” Hilmarsdóttir said. “He had heard about our journey and as we were were walking across the heath a car drove in our direction and stopped. It was Steingrímur asking if we were the great walkers. It was nice talking to Steingrímur,” Hilmarsdóttir said. The three women began their journey on Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland and walked across the country’s interior to the northeast.
Posted 22 July 2010; 11:26:20 AM. Permalink
(Russia Info, 19 May 2010) -- The air carrier of Yakutia has opened a new direct regular flight Moscow Ц Anadyr Ц Moscow. This route provides new traveling possibilities for the residents of Chukchi Autonomous Area (Chukotka) and for the tourists who choose eco-tours on dog sleds and thrill seekers who wants to research this northern exotic land as well. The flight is carried out from this Wednesday, May19 from the Moscow international airport of Vnukovo, which provides different possibilities for transit flights. The service takes place on the modern aircraft of Boeing 757-200 on Wednesdays (Moscow - Anadyr) and on Thusdays (Anadyr - Moscow). The trip time amounts to 8 hours.
Posted 21 May 2010; 1:48:39 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review News, 21 May 2010) -- British actor Stephen Fry and Danish-American actor Viggo Mortensen have
agreed to participate in an initiative to promote Iceland as a travel
destination to counteract negative coverage of the volcanic eruption in
the international media. An interview with Mortensen has been posted on
the website inspiredbyiceland.com and Fry tweeted about
Icelanders through a Twitter site of the same name, Fréttabladid
reports. The project is part of an ISK 700 million (USD 5.4 million, EUR
4.4 million) marketing initiative launched by Icelandic tourism
companies and the government of Iceland. Advertisements will be
published in widely in European media outlets and the plan is to have
other world-famous celebrities participate in the project. See Viggo Mortensen is inspired by Iceland on Vimeo and also IceNews, "Stephen Fry and Viggo Mortensen support ‘Inspired by
Posted 21 May 2010; 10:59:29 AM. Permalink
(Chris Wodskou, The Current/CBC, 24 February 2010) -- We started this segment with a clip from Glen Gould's The Idea of North for CBC Radio. The Olympics in Vancouver have proven to be a bit of a disconnect for a country such as Canada. Until yesterday, we failed to deliver a suitably wintery setting for the games. Rain, fog, spring-like temperatures. None of that is out of the ordinary for Vancouver. But it hardly befits a country that proudly calls itself The Great White North. And consider the omnipresent Inukshuk ... Inuit iconography being used to illustrate our connection to the north at a celebration of ice and snow in one of Canada's balmiest microclimates. But then, the Canadian Arctic is getting balmier too. All those contradictions got The Current's Chris Wodskou wondering what it means to be an Arctic nation in a time of climate change. We aired his documentary, Arctic Re-Imagined. Due to copyrights issues regarding music in this documentary we can not make this item available as a podcast but you can listen online off our website at: www.cbc.ca/thecurrent - click on Past Shows and February 24, 2010. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Posted 24 February 2010; 4:08:17 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 27 January 2010) -- Nunavut Arctic College is about to study and develop a unique cultural tourism and hospitality program for the territory's communities. The college is receiving just over $40,000 in federal funding to work on the program, which would build on Nunavut's strengths in the cultural and arts sectors and help boost local economies. The funding, which is being administered by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, will allow the college to work with other Nunavut organizations towards developing curricula for the program, agency director Hagar Idlout-Sudlovenick told CBC News. Nunavut Arctic College will use the funding to collect information about similar programs in the circumpolar world, said Cindy Cowan, the college's director of academic studies. "We may be doing some research ... in Norway and Finland, and looking at what that the circumpolar indigenous people are doing with their universities in terms of cultural tourism," she said. "Then phase two will be another proposal. I'm not sure who we would be going to, but we'll find a partner who will assist us in actually writing some of the courses."
Posted 28 January 2010; 9:45:07 PM. Permalink
(UPI, 11 January 2010) -- New Haven, CT - A Connecticut man said he hopes to get up to $8,000 on eBay for a rare find in his attic — 85 photographs from a 1908 expedition to the Arctic. Francis Boucher of New Haven said the photo album, which had been passed down to him by his parents, spent years in a trunk in his attic until he stumbled upon it about two weeks ago and decided to research its origins, The New Haven (Conn.) Register reported Monday. "This time, I started really looking at their historical value," he said. "I was surprised and kind of excited. It's one of those things you stick in a box and forget about." "The book documents Harry Whitney's expedition with the Inuit Eskimo to the north and south of Etah (Greenland), along the Arctic frontier and overwintering in Annoatok," he wrote in an e-mail announcing his auction. "The images portray what real big-game hunting and survival in the wilderness was all about, making today's reality TV look like child's play." The auction had reached a high bid of $1,612 as of Monday evening.
Posted 12 January 2010; 2:10:46 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 30/31 December 2009) -- Over the past couple of weeks, around 20,000 visitors arrived in Lapland without their bags. Often the luggage has shown up just as they were leaving. "We've had to take care of customers' lost luggage issues the whole time. It's natural that they would turn to us for help," says receptionist Arja Haapakorva from Rovaniemi's City Hotel. "Thankfully Rovaniemi's tour operators came to the rescue, and provided warm overalls to our freezing customers." Temperatures in Lapland have dropped below -20 degrees Celsius while the luggage fiasco has been going on at Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Sports outfitters in Lapland have made a killing selling shivering visitors complete kit, from long underwear to parkas and everything in between. "When you have nothing, it's understandable that you buy everything," says Hanna Uusitalo, a salesperson at City Sport in Rovaniemi. For other visitors, the lost luggage is even more serious that being literally caught out in the cold. ... At the beginning of the week, around 4,000 bags were orphaned at the airport. There are still 100-200 bags stranded at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, but these should be delivered by the end of the week. Finnair blames the baggage pileup on the snowy conditions. However, luggage-handling union representatives point the finger at staff shortages due to layoffs. At the beginning of the week, around 4,000 bags were orphaned at the airport. There are still 100-200 bags stranded at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, but these should be delivered by the end of the week. Finnair blames the baggage pileup on the snowy conditions. However, luggage-handling union representatives point the finger at staff shortages due to layoffs.
Posted 31 December 2009; 11:04:41 AM. Permalink
(Icelandic Tourist Board/Dateline Iceland – January 2010, 28 December 2009) -- They say you can’t take a bad photograph in Iceland. Sure, we suppose it might be a bit dark if you leave the lens cap on, but otherwise, between the incredible scenery and a sun that usually sits low in the sky (this extended “magic hour” avoids harsh, washed out images), you can’t go wrong. New to IcelandTouristBoard.com is a stunning slide show of cruising images from Akureyri and the North Country.The Port of Akureyri is Iceland's second largest port after Reykjavík. In recent years the port has become a popular cruise destination, bringing thousands of visitors to the area each summer. In fact, this year, Akureyri was voted Europe’s third best destination by customers of Princess Cruises, one of the largest cruise ship companies in the world. Akureyri, with a university, several museums, fine dining and a lively nightlife, is the capital of the north and gateway to untold outdoor activities. As you can see from the slide show, you’ve got your golf, your puffins, tolting horses, your cruise ships with their midnight buffets (in the summer daylight, of course), even tourists in shorts (thankfully in white, not black socks). Be forewarned: one look at this slide show and you might have an irresistible urge to book a cruise yourself. To see the show, log on here: http://icelandtouristboard.com/photo_gallery_akureyri/
Posted 30 December 2009; 5:14:27 PM. Permalink
(Fred Bruemmer/Montreal Gazette via Ottawa Citizen, 23 December 2009) -- There are three places in the north where, at the right time of year, you are nearly certain to see polar bears: Wrangel Island, north of Siberia, very hard to reach; the ice fields near Svalbard, the archipelago far north of Norway, by chartered yacht, okay if you have lots of dough; and our own Churchill, Man., which rightly calls itself "the polar bear capital of the world." It is the choice of an amazing number of people whose dream is to see a polar bear. During the famous "bear season" - about six weeks in late fall and early winter - hundreds of these magnificent animals congregate in the Churchill area. It is the largest concentration of polar bears in the world. Last year more than 10,000 tourists came to Churchill for that marvellous adrenalin-surge nearly all experience when they see their first "wild" polar bear. The thrill and fascination are understandable. These bears are special. They are huge, white, powerful. They are the iconic animals of the Arctic. A long-term study carried out by the zoologist Desmond Morris showed that the polar bear is one of the world's 10 "most popular" animals. The greatest love of our 2-year-old grandson is his plush polar bear pal called "Po". When he visits us, Po comes along and Owen falls asleep with the bear cuddled in his arms. The sad thing is that when Owen and your children and grandchildren grow up, they probably will no longer be able to see polar bears in the wild. By then, if present climatic trends continue, there may be only a few small pockets of polar bears left in the remotest regions of the far north. In many languages, polar bears are called "ice bears" - "Eisbär" in German, "isbjørn" in Danish. It's an apt name. They are the highly specialized seal hunters of the circumpolar ice. The equation, consequently, is simple and fatal: no ice, no ice bears. Global warming is causing the polar ice to recede rapidly. In 2007, for the first time in memory, the normally ice-choked Northwest Passage was ice free in summer. Very good for shipping. Very bad for ice bears.
Posted 25 December 2009; 12:14:40 PM. Permalink
(BarentsObserver, 23 December 2009) -- The American travel magazine Travel and Leisure has selected Tromsø, Norway, as one of the world’s best towns to spend Christmas. “The snowy city island of Tromsø offers unparalleled views of the northern lights and a chance to say you’ve been to the North Pole—well, the Arctic Circle, anyway—for Christmas. Plus, there’s dogsledding, great food, and a mountaintop cable car. Here, “day” is just a couple hours of twilight blue”, the magazine writes on its web pages. Tromsø is only beaten by Taos in New Mexico, USA and San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, and ranked before famous places like Key West, Chicago and Vienna.
Posted 23 December 2009; 12:25:44 PM. Permalink
(BatteryRadio via Arctos Canadensis, 11 December 2009) -- Battery Radio - web site of Chris Brookes, radio producer of Abraham’s Diary (in two parts). The late 19th century saw the rise of scientific racism in Europe, and those who flocked to the zoo exhibit expected to gape at “exotics” from some “primitive race”. What they found instead were Labradorimiut who spoke three languages, played German hymn tunes on violin, and who were keeping their own ethnographic notes on the “uncivilised” Europeans. Tragically, both families died of smallpox, but not before Abraham Ulrikab wrote his impressions of the trip in a remarkable diary. Based on the book: “The Diary of Abraham Ulrikab: Text and Context,” edited and translated by Hartmut Lutz (University of Ottawa Press). Parts 1 and 2 of the documentary first aired on the CBC radio program “Ideas” on Nov. 30 and Dec. 01, 2009. You can listen to Parts 1 and 2 on-line (at Abraham’s Diary), or click on the tab below on Arctos Canadensis for Part 1.Link to source
Posted 13 December 2009; 1:29:42 PM. Permalink
(The Local, 12 December 2009) -- If all goes to plan, billionaire Richard Branson’s spaceships will take off with tourists on board in 2012 – from Kiruna in the far north of Sweden. “Space tourism sounds like science fiction, but we are talking about only a number of years into the future,” Johanna Bergström-Roos, from the Esrange space centre in Kiruna, told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Earlier last week, billionaire Richard Branson paraded his company Virgin Galactic’s specially designed tourist ship ‘SpaceShipTwo’, which will take tourists out into space. Virgin Galactic, has selected two 'spaceports', from where tourists will be able to launch into space. One of the spaceports is in New Mexico, while the other is the Sweden Spaceport, in Kiruna. If all goes according to plan, space tourists may be flocking to Kiruna within several years. “Virgin Galactic has its spaceport in America and will commence their first flights there in 2011. When they have been operating for half a year, it will then be time for the European market, and they’ll then come to us,” Bergström-Roos told Dagens Nyheter. In an earlier interview with TV4, Branson said that space journeys from Kiruna could be a reality by 2012. “We would love to send up people in a rocket so that they get to experience the northern lights from space. Sweden has been very welcoming and very enthusiastic about this project, so I am hopeful that fairly soon after we start our space programme from New Mexico we can start up in the north of Sweden.”
Posted 12 December 2009; 5:08:27 PM. Permalink
(IcelandReview, 9 December 2009) -- Four historians have presented their ideas for a turf farm hotel to the parliament’s Thingvellir committee, a living museum where tourists can travel up to 1,000 years back in time. The historians have founded a company to execute their idea, called Stórsaga. The historians are especially interested in the area Skógarhólar, which currently has facilities for horseback riders passing through Thingvellir. In addition to the turf farm, they are keen on building a small church, cowshed, smithy and a parliament camp, Morgunbladid reports. During the day, tourists can observe how the Icelandic settlers lived and at night the area would be used to accommodate tourists. That way, people can experience how Icelanders used to live for centuries. “We want to present history to travelers in a new way. The traveler comes to a place where he or she can buy accommodation and food which was available 1,000 years ago and understand what it was really like to live in Iceland from the settlement to the 20th century,” said one of the historians, Svava Lóa Stefánsdóttir.
Posted 9 December 2009; 10:18:28 PM. Permalink
(John Baglow/The National Post, 4 December 2009) -- A little bird tells me that a worthy replacement may have been found for Michaëlle Jean, Governor-General of Canada, now in her last year of office. According to an influential Conservative insider, Mary Simon, currently the President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, would be an "ideal choice." Simon was ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1994-2003, and also served as Canadian ambassador to Denmark, 1999-2001. She sat on the Joint Public Advisory Committee of NAFTA's Commission on Environmental Cooperation (1997-2000), and chaired the Commission from 1997-98. She was the Chancellor of Trent University from 1995 to 1999. Simon has played many other roles in her career, including serving on the Nunavut Implementation Commission. She has been showered with honours—everything from the Order of Canada to the Gold Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. And throughout her many years of public service, she has been a powerful voice for Aboriginal rights in Canada and elsewhere. And she blogs! An ideal choice indeed.
Posted 5 December 2009; 12:16:15 PM. Permalink
(AnnArbor.com, 21 November 2009) -- The accommodations are spartan, and for some, the scenery may qualify as ‘bleak,’ but the opportunity for polar bear viewing in Churchill, Manitoba, located on Hudson Bay, is unparalleled. Depending on your situation, you might also get some outstanding food. The accommodation that I stayed in, called the Tundra Lodge, consisted of five very large enclosed wagons hitched together, with metal grate decks between them. The place often shakes; high frequency shaking resulted from people walking down the hall or sometimes from strong wind gusts. Wider sways in the entire structure came when bears relieved their itches by use of the wheels and frames of the wagons. And on one occasion, the shaking came from a crude but ultimately successful attempt to repair the drain pipe from the kitchen sink using only a front-end loader, since it was too dangerous to get out of a vehicle to perform repairs on the exterior of the lodge. Churchill is called the Polar Bear Capital of the World, and if you get there at the right time of year, it exceeds all of the expectations that hang on this name. The reason why it is the polar bear capital stems from the habits of polar bears coupled with the physical site of Churchill. Polar bears depend on sea ice as a platform from which to hunt seals. For about four months of the year, there is no ice on Hudson Bay and the bears do not eat. However, they know that because the fresh water that flows into the shallow bay from three rivers near Churchill raises the freezing point of the water, this is the first place to freeze in the fall and thus the first place where food becomes available. So Churchill is the place where the polar bears gather in anticipation of prey, and the tourists gather in anticipation of polar bears, with a small number of other arctic creatures thrown in—arctic fox, ptarmigan, snowy owl, and arctic hare, all of which in my experience required greater luck for a sighting compared to the polar bear. The northern lights can also often be seen there.
Posted 22 November 2009; 5:11:27 PM. Permalink
(Lisa Chamoff/News Times, 19 November 2009) -- For the past five years, Mary Gibbons has poured her energy into a building that is literally destroyed after a few months, and then painstakingly rebuilt from scratch. She wouldn't have it any other way. On Saturday, Gibbons will make her now-annual trip from Greenwich to Jukkasjärvi, a small village about 160 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, where she will serve as one of four project managers for the Icehotel. Each winter, over the last two decades, a new hotel is designed and built out of thousands of tons of ice from the Torne River. It melts back into the river come spring. Gibbons, 55, joined the building crew at the Icehotel in 2005 after watching a television program on similar igloo-like accommodations built from ice and snow. At the time, she was recently divorced and still healing from the deaths of one of her sons and her father. After e-mailing the chief architect her story, she took a leave of absence from her job as a ceramic tile designer and headed to work in below-freezing temperatures. Gibbons has built frozen furniture for the hotel's bar, wielding chain saws to sculpt the ice, and upholstering the pieces in reindeer skins. Watching people actually sit on the chairs she helped create is a wonderful feeling, Gibbons said.
Posted 20 November 2009; 3:59:02 PM. Permalink
(Telegraph, 16 November 2009) -- These images are taken from a new National Geographic book called Polar Obsession by extreme wildlife photographer Paul Nickle [sic, Nicklen]. [There are some different pictures in this collection from the Nicklen gallery noted below. Book at Chapters.ca, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or National Geographic. ]
Posted 16 November 2009; 3:46:57 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 16 November 2009) -- VLADIVOSTOK - A Russian icebreaker with 105 passengers on board has been trapped in ice during a cruise in the Arctic, a Russian Far East marine cruise official said on Monday. The Captain Khlebnikov will need to wait one or two days to resolve the situation, and the official said the passengers are in no danger. "The icebreaker's crew is waiting for the weather to change and then the ship will resume its course. This will require one or two days. The passengers are in no need of assistance," the spokesman told RIA Novosti. Most of the passengers on board the icebreaker are Brits. A film crew from the BBC is also on board filming material for a documentary called Frozen Earth.
Posted 16 November 2009; 12:26:26 AM. Permalink
(NPR, 13 November 2009) --Today on All Things Considered, host Melissa Block speaks with National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen about his new book, Polar Obsession. Listen here. How many people can say with nonchalance, "I've had good friends of mine ... eaten by grizzly bears"? Paul Nicklen can, for one. He's a National Geographic photographer who was raised in Canada's Arctic and has spent the past 20 years documenting extreme polar regions. Nicklen had a unique childhood. He grew up in a small and remote Inuit community on Baffin Island with no radio, no TV and no telephone. His idea of fun included lying in blizzards until his body went numb, building sleds and tending pet seals. It was a secluded youth -- and to anyone else, a bit extreme. But to Nicklen, it was as idyllic as childhood gets. "I was taking care of dog teams by the time I was 5," he tells NPR's Melissa Block. "It's just a completely different world, and ... I fell in love with it." So it makes sense that his idea of fun today includes many of the same things: extreme temperatures, exploration and animal friendships. After a brief stint at the University of Victoria to earn a biology degree, Nicklen made a prompt return to Canada's Arctic, where he began a career as a nature photojournalist. "As I got to be older, as a biologist and photojournalist," he says, "I realized that these are the tools I can now use to protect the place that I fell in love with as a kid."
Posted 15 November 2009; 7:12:37 PM. Permalink
(Simon Kuper/Financial Times, 13 November 2009) -- Sara Wheeler is such a seasoned Arctic traveller that one winter she towed her baby son around Lapland on a sled. In The Magnetic North, her wonderful account of her journeys through the region, she wonders if her children will “talk to their children’s children about the Arctic as my generation speaks of black-and-white television and tinned spaghetti”. They almost certainly will. It’s no coincidence that four weighty books about the region are being published at once. The old Arctic is dying, and a new, perhaps more habitable one will replace it. These books are not warnings against climate change: it’s too late for that. Rather, taken together, this quartet is at once a requiem for the old Arctic and a fearful welcome to the new one. Glyn Williams’s Arctic Labyrinth and Peter Nichols’s Final Voyage are partial histories of the old, frozen Arctic. Wheeler’s odyssey and Alun Anderson’s After The Ice chart the new, melting Arctic and the incipient “cold rush” for its oil and gas. There are hundreds of billions of dollars buried in those thawing seabeds. As the Arctic defrosts, the region may finally join the rest of civilisation, Anderson suggests, even though he doesn’t like the idea. The Arctic was always a scarcely habitable wasteland. “Twelve months of winter, and the rest is summer,” one traveller tells Wheeler. The region’s empty landscape makes you understand your own insignificance, Wheeler says, and it draws misfits and misanthropes. When she asks a fellow Arctic addict, “What keeps you here?”, the reply is: “It’s not what’s here. It’s what’s not here.”
Posted 14 November 2009; 10:17:40 PM. Permalink
(AFP, 10 November 2009) -- OTTAWA - Canada's prime minister on Tuesday gave Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, two red sweaters and caps worn by Inuit Rangers to take home to his sons as souvenirs of his visit. "Your Highness, as you know we're very proud of our Rangers and our Rangers program," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, flanked by four Rangers in the drawing room of the governor general's mansion. They are "a great group of people who patrol our vast Arctic territory," he said, adding the sweaters and caps symbolized Princes William and Harry's honorary membership in the Arctic guard. "I hope they fit," quipped Prince Charles. "One-size fits all," interjected Harper's wife Laureen. The prince and his wife Camilla arrived in Canada on November 2 for a 10-day visit—his 15th tour of this former British colony and her first look into her family's roots. So far during their 10-day trip, they have visited Canada's oldest English settlement in Cupids, Newfoundland, which celebrates its 400th anniversary next year, and the home of famed Arctic explorer Captain Robert Bartlett in Brigus. They also toured Vancouver's 2010 Olympic Village and Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario, built in 1835 for Camilla's great-great-great-grandfather and former prime minister of the united Province of Canada, Sir Alan MacNab. On Tuesday, the couple met with Governor General Michaelle Jean, as well as Canada's opposition leader Michael Ignatieff and Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who gave them an Inuit sculpture and a collection of Quebec films on DVD.
Posted 11 November 2009; 10:28:35 AM. Permalink
(Countercurrents.org, 3 November 2009) -- Greenland is moving along a development path calling for new industries to be introduced to increase our economic independence. Like other countries at the bridge of industrial development, Greenland will travel to Copenhagen to draft a new agreement that will reduce emissions while at the same time taking into account the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities of countries and OCTs [overseas countries and territories]. ... We all inhabit the same globe, and we all must make an effort to curb climate change now. Reducing global emissions of greenhouse gasses and leaving a green planet for future generations is one of the biggest challenges faced by world leaders today. But while facing the challenges of global warming we must also see that countries at the bridge of industrial development find room to meet the needs and aspirations of their populations bringing them at level with people in the industrialised countries. In December 2009 the world meets in Copenhagen to draft a new agreement that hopefully will lead to a reduction in global emissions of greenhouse gasses, while at the same time taking into account the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
Posted 9 November 2009; 2:57:38 PM. Permalink
(Pat Forgey/Juneau Empire, 5 November 2009) -- Bob Banghart of Juneau has been named chief curator of the Alaska State Museums, Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux announced this week. Banghart had been curator of exhibitions, responsible for the multi-level eagle tree at the entrance of the Alaska State Museum in Juneau and other exhibits. In Banghart's new job, he will oversee exhibits at that museum, the state's Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, and traveling exhibitions, grant programs and technical assistance for other museums throughout the state. Banghart went to work as curator of exhibitions at the Alaska State Museums in 2007, following 20 years with his own Juneau-based museum planning and design consulting firm. He has a bachelor's degree in art and design from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Banghart will supervise a permanent staff of 15, a seasonal summer staff and an operating budget of about $1.7 million, according to the state Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums. Banghart said he's looking forward to working on a new unified campus in Juneau for state library, archives and museum institutions. The Legislature has appropriated $7.5 million for the SLAM project's planning and design. The new, expanded building would more fully serve statewide constituents and offer Juneau residents and visitors more exhibition and research space, Banghart said.
Posted 6 November 2009; 1:24:06 PM. Permalink
(IceNews, 4 November 2009) -- The Lonely Planet travel guide has recently released the Best in Travel 2010 book, the publisher’s fifth annual collection of the world’s best journeys, destinations, and experiences for the coming year. The guidebook presents the top ten countries, regions, and cities to visit, chosen by Lonely Planet’s global team and Iceland is at the top of the list for 2010. Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world. It has published over 500 titles in 8 different languages with annual sales of six million guidebooks as well as TV programs, a magazine, mobile phone applications and websites. The Icelandic airline company, Icelandair, is very happy at Lonely Planet ranking Iceland number one in the top ten money-saving vacation destinations in northern European for 2010. Over the past year, the previously expensive holiday destination has become the face of the economic crisis but consequently, due to the current exchange rate, has allowed travellers and tourists to holiday in Iceland at a much lower price. “You’ve always wanted to explore this magical, mysterious land, explore volcanoes and ice caps and bathing in hot springs? Then 2010 is your year,” states Lonely Planet. With all this positive exposure the coming year will surely be a busy and exciting one for Icelandair, flying people in from all 25 of their gateways across Europe, the USA and Canada, providing safe and reliable air travel for all who wish to visit the land of fire and ice in 2010.
Posted 4 November 2009; 10:02:18 PM. Permalink
(Eliza Wilmerding/Dallas Morning News, 1 November 2009) -- ABISKO MOUNTAIN STATION, Sweden - Twelve miles into Sweden's King's Trail, we find our rhythm and tune in to the arctic snow. This singing powder is so dry you could swim in it and not get wet. There's no chance of it sticking to your skis – or to itself. (My snowball looked like a mass of sparkling confetti.) And in a few days, thanks to a drop in air temperature, we'll ski through reflective ice crystals tumbling out of the clear blue sky.We'd found our frozen world. It was everything that we could ask for.When my fiancé was offered a job in southern Sweden weeks before our fall wedding, we jumped at it. I'd read of Swedes lacing up their skates and carving down frozen canals or ski touring across the countryside outside their doors. We could live like that.Reality struck when we flew into perpetually spitting rain, then winter darkness and more rain. Searching for rubber boots in a Gothenburg shoe store, I met a fellow American. She asked if I'd be around through the winter. I nodded."You poor dear," she said. "Last year, we went crazy and had to go south for a break."For most people, it's a no-brainer to head to the tropics for winter vacation. We're wired differently. We like snow more than sand or saltwater. We went north to find a frozen world.
Posted 1 November 2009; 9:40:21 AM. Permalink
(CP via Google, 21 October 2009) -- KUUJJUAQ, Que. - Inuit-owned and operated Cruise North Expeditions is adding Greenland to its roster of Arctic itineraries for 2010. With two departures - one from Iqaluit, Nunavut, on July 23, the other from Kuujjuaq, Que., on Aug. 6 - the two-week tours aboard the company's 122-passenger vessel are "expedition cruises in the truest sense of the word," Cruise North says. The itinerary includes Baffin Island's Auyuittuq National Park and several stops at communities on Greenland's west coast. Inuit guides will be on board. Prices start at US$5,295. Kuujjuaq is a 2 1/4-hour flight from Montreal. Cruise North Expeditions, launched in 2005, is a subsidiary of Makivik Corp., an investment company born of the James Bay and Northern Quebec land claims agreement of 1975. Makivik also owns First Air and Air Inuit.
Posted 22 October 2009; 12:12:58 PM. Permalink
(John Ralston Saul/Literary Review of Canada, 1 October 2009)** -- ... This essay focuses on the Arctic. But the larger context is that we are a northern nation. Two thirds of our country lies in what is normally categorized as North lands. One third of our gross domestic product comes out of the three territories and the equally isolated northern parts of our provinces. And that one third is what makes us a rich, not a poor, country. Our cities, our high-tech service-based lives are built upon the foundation provided by that one third of riches. And now the South believes that the percentage of the GDP coming from the Arctic section of the North will grow. We ought to be a central player in the northern world in general and in particular in the circumpolar world. But first we all need to see ourselves as part of it and, at the moment, we do not. The current Arctic enthusiasm instead resembles an updated manifestation of George Brown’s old rep by pop argument, in which the shape and direction of Canada are supposed to be controlled simply by those who have the most votes. We act as if the second largest country in the world is only real in a handful of southern cities. That is why our current approach to Arctic sovereignty has such a Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa-Calgary-Vancouver feel to it. And that is why there is little sign of the balance between people and place that has always been and remains central to Canada's success. In this atmosphere, the point of view of northerners is treated as if it weighed three House of Commons seats, which is what a strict geographical definition of the region allots them: three territories, one seat apiece. And so, throughout our history, when the moment comes to spend the money or talk about the issues, ministers tend to become distracted by a bridge in their riding or in a swing riding, and the northern monies evaporate.
Posted 19 October 2009; 1:14:25 PM. Permalink
(The Independent, 18 October 2009) -- Adjusting a daringly short black velvet dress and looking down at the girlie pink socks she has folded over her black boots, Sara Wheeler pronounces, "I don't do any sledge-pulling and I'm not interested in sledge-pulling." For the glamorous polar travel writer, whose grey pixie hair, kohled eyes and shocking-pink lipstick make her look a million miles from her Gore-Tex-clad contemporaries, sledge-pulling is a distraction from the real business of describing the world's extremities. "I think that to a certain extent we've got used to using the Arctic and the Antarctic as testing grounds," she explains. "Once upon a time, they had to be, because we didn't know what was there, but now those times have gone and we've got to look for something else. I find most of today's frozen-beard endeavours quite stunt-ish." The "frozen beards", as she has dubbed those male contemporaries who pit themselves against the elements before publishing a book whose cover shows them staring out with ice flecks in their facial fuzz, have been unsurprisingly huffy in their reception of this female interloper in their predominantly male club. But Wheeler is unperturbed. "In the exploration community, there's a great sense that places such as the Antarctic are private territory, and they don't want me going in and making it seem as if anyone can do it. There is a certain group of people who are never going to like what I do, but that's OK, it's a free country. They don't own it and nor do I." ...Wheeler has no desire to prove how tough she is. Researching her sixth and latest book, The Magnetic North, a tale of the people and landscapes contained within the Arctic Circle, she frequently camped in sub-zero temperatures and "shared her bathroom with a seal", but she says that for that to be the purpose to her trips would miss the point. "I want to say other things about those regions, because I think there are plenty of other things to be said. It's a pity if it's only about losing half your body weight and seeing how dead you can get. I want to write about the places, or people, or the universal experience, not about myself." ... Reality is what you get in The Magnetic North. Whether it is scenes of alcoholic fathers pushing buggies with holsters, where beer cans have replaced milk bottles, or seeing the sharp end of climate change while camping with scientists on the Greenland ice sheet, Wheeler never shirks from the ugly truth of the region. Many of these truths were discovered with her children in tow. Reggie, now aged six, and Wilf, 12, both accompanied her on various legs of the trip. Reggie, at the time an un-weaned baby, was enthroned in pelts and taken reindeer herding with the Lapps, while Wilf, at the age of 10, was introduced to some colourful Slavic vocabulary after being taken under the wing of the Russian crew of an ice-breaker.
Posted 19 October 2009; 11:43:46 AM. Permalink
(Luxury Travel Magazine, 16 October 2009) -- The World, the first and only private residential community at sea, made maritime history during its recent voyage to the Russian Arctic region. The ground-breaking, 28-day Bering Sea Expedition provided Residents and Guests with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore remote communities and cultures, observe rare wildlife in a natural environment and sail aboard the first ship to do so in decades, all during the brief Arctic summer. The Expedition was unlike any other, astounding even the long-time Residents who have sailed since The World's 2002 maiden voyage. For those that took advantage of The World's rental program, The Bering Sea Expedition proved to be a one of a kind, premier vacation experience. Successfully landing in Lorino Village The World is the first ship of its size to ever visit a this community in the Chukotka region. Locals embraced Residents and Guests, welcoming them with native performances and entertainment. The vessel continued its historic voyage when it traversed the Bering Strait, which separates the easternmost point of Russia from Alaska, just a few days later. One of the Expedition's most memorable moments occurred when navigating the Bering Strait, a channel separating the United States and Russia. ... Divided not only by an international border but the International Dateline, The World is the first foreign-flagged ship to sail between the islands on the Russian side since World War II. The vessel continued to make history as it approached Wrangel Island, renowned for its incredible wildlife. ... There have been only four vessels carrying private travelers to visit Wrangel Island in Russia's vast history and The World is the first foreign-flagged ship to do so since 1924. Following Wrangel Island, The World continued to sail 70 miles until reaching the ice cap's edge, which extends all the way to the North Pole. Once anchored, the captain lowered the retractable marina so that Residents and Guests could partake in the "Polar Plunge," a courageous dive often attempted by North Pole travelers. 35 adventurous souls participated in the daring excursion, plunging into 0.7 °C (33.3 °F) waters and quickly jumping out.
Posted 19 October 2009; 11:05:40 AM. Permalink
(Herb McCormick/Cruising World, 14 October 2009) -- For as long as I can remember, I've been hooked on books about travel to distant lands, and I've wandered far and wide on the descriptive prose of such wonderful writers as Paul Theroux, Bruce Chatwin, Jonathan Raban, Bill Bryson, John McPhee, Jon Krakauer, and so many, many others. Several years ago, a friend who knew of my fondness for the genre loaned me a copy of Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. It left a lasting impression. ... For thanks to Barry Lopez, I now had my own Arctic dreams. When we sailed out of Seattle last May heading north for the Arctic, those dreams were nurtured by crewmate David Thoreson, who was on his third attempt to sail the Northwest Passage (he'd been turned back the first time but made it the second) and knew the territory well. Thoreson's own travels to the Far North had left him more or less addicted to everything about the Arctic: the people, the wildlife, the endless summer nights, the pastel twilight, even the ice. His stories and descriptions made it sound like nowhere else on Earth, like a planet unto itself. And once we'd put Nome behind us and then, at 66 degrees 30 minutes north, crossed the line of latitude that represents the Arctic Circle, it wasn't long at all before I discovered he was right.
Posted 15 October 2009; 10:39:34 AM. Permalink
(Bridget Kendall/From Our Own Correspondent, BBC, 16 September 2009) -- Climate change is having an impact in the vast and remote region of Yakutia in Siberia which, in winter at least, is still the coldest place on earth. Bridget Kendall reports. There cannot be many foreigners who make it as far as Yakutia's top tourist attraction, the Ice Kingdom. The way in is through an unassuming wooden door cut into the hillside, just like the entrance to Bilbo Baggin's hobbit home in The Lord of the Rings. You pass into a dark hallway strewn with straw and blocks of ice, and enter another world. White crystals sparkle. A tunnel shimmers blue as far as the eye can see. In padded silver capes, guides usher us through caverns carved with ice sculptures. One houses the ivory tusks of a mammoth. In another, a young man draped in furs sits on an icy throne. "The Lord of the Cold," our guide tells us. "How long have you been here?" I ask. "Eternity," he answers with stoic humour. In fact, no one could last long in these icy caverns without a break. Just one and a half metres from the surface, the ground is permanently frozen at -10C. Yakutia is home to the permafrost. In midwinter, outside temperatures make it the coldest place on earth - an unbelievable -70C. Luckily September is still fleetingly autumn. The trees seem to fade from green to yellow overnight. In just four days the temperature drops noticeably. The local paper worries that not all heating plants are yet fully repaired and supplied with fuel. The first frosts, it says, will come in days. Evidence of extreme temperatures is visible everywhere. Newer buildings perch on concrete permafrost stilts. The asphalt on the buckled roads erupts into cracks and bumps, while lagged heating pipes snake over head. Untidy spaghetti wires loop from one high-rise to another. You can not bury power lines and pipes in the permafrost. There are also telling signs of what looks like global warming. This July in the underground Ice Kingdom the temperature rose to a dangerously warm -7C. On the surface winter frosts rarely get harsher than -50C.
Posted 30 September 2009; 2:16:22 PM. Permalink
(Up Here Magazine, 29 September 2009) -- Whitehorse, 38% (27 votes); Yellowknife, 38% (27 votes); Iqaluit, 10% (7 votes); Capital's Shmapitals - The Smaller Communities Beat Them All! 15% (11 votes); Total votes: 72. Vote in the panel at the lower right of the home page. May the best capital win!
Posted 29 September 2009; 11:31:20 PM. Permalink
(Ellen Lockyer/APRN – Anchorage, 30 September 2009) -- Barrow’s Ilisagvik College is attracting notice from college bound students in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and even Burbank, California. What makes this two-year community college a magnet for Alaska Natives and non-Natives alike?
(Alex Demarban/The Arctic Sounder, 18 September 2009) -- The New York Times is headed to Nikolski with a three-man team to do a story that broadly covers population decline in rural Alaska. "We're really looking forward to working out there," said reporter William Yardley. With only nine students, the school in the Aleut village is in danger of closing, said Joe Beckford, superintendent of the Aleutian Region School District. Village and school populations in the region have fallen sharply in the last two decades, he said. "If you go down the Alaska Peninsula to the islands, almost all the communities have experienced significant loss in enrollment," he said. Public schools with less than 10 students lose big chunks of state funding, making it difficult to operate. Other schools in the region are struggling to stay above that number, Beckford said. The Nikolski school is looking to hire a teacher with at least one school-age child to boost attendance, said Beckford. Without a teacher now, students are taking correspondence courses through the Chugach School District with the help of a teacher aide. The critical student count will begin in late September and continue for about three weeks. The daily average attendance during that period will determine if the school stays open. Beckford said he's been contacted by Yardley, who told him the Times crew will arrive next week. They'll probably stay in the empty teacher housing, Beckford said. At 4,000 years old, some consider Nikolski, population 27, to be the oldest continuously occupied village in Alaska. An archaeological site nearby dates back 8,500 years.
Posted 22 September 2009; 9:44:56 PM. Permalink
(Rick Bowmer/AP, 16 September 2009) -- Bowmer captured the 40th Annual Circumpolar Northern Games that celebrate the traditions of Tuktoyaktuk, a small native community on the northern shores of Canada.
Posted 17 September 2009; 10:10:09 AM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 10 September 2009) -- KUUJJUAQ - Tuttulik, an Inuit-owned outfitting firm based in Umiujaq, has dealt a serious blow to the reputation of Nunavik’s annual caribou sports hunt. Tuttulik suddenly ceased operations in September of 2008, depriving nearly 300 clients from the United States of the one-week hunting trips for which they paid up to $5,000 US in advance. The hunters, who never got their money back, have now taken to the internet, where their furious complaints are posted on hunting and fishing forums, outdoor magazine websites, and small-town newspapers websites across North America. “This has happened before in Quebec and undoubtedly will happen again. Save your money and hunt in the good old U.S.A,” counsels a post from a Tuttulik client on the wildoutdoors.com website. Nunavik’s caribou sports hunt brings in about $15 to $20 million a year in revenues. [See also Advocatus diaboli blog, "The best kind of sordid boondoggle: an instructive one," 10 September 2009.]
Posted 12 September 2009; 11:35:28 AM. Permalink
(Tony Hopfinger/Alaska Dispatch, 4 September 2009) -- In another sign that the Arctic is warming, a coordinated rescue was in the works Thursday for an ill German passenger aboard a cruise ship not far from the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. It's an unlikely place to find a cruise ship, but this new Arctic frontier is becoming busier with commercial traffic. The report of the ill passenger off the northern Alaska coast came the same day as a new study claims the Arctic is now at its warmest in 2000 years. As of Thursday afternoon, the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Juneau reported that Alaska Clean Seas and oil company BP were helping arrange for the transfer of a 27-year-old German woman suffering possibly from appendicitis aboard the cruise ship Bremen about 30 miles west of Prudhoe Bay. The Bremen has been at sea since it left Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, in mid-August, according to the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' website. The ship was due to arrive to Barrow on Friday, then head south to Point Hope on Saturday, and end up in Nome on Monday morning. Ships like the Bremen have been sailing across the Northwest Passage more frequently in recent years as new, relatively ice-free shipping lanes open up. The Coast Guard, Homeland Security and other federal agencies have raised safety and security concerns about the increasing traffic of commercial ships sailing past the top of Alaska, where the border is wide open and there is little oversight. In previous years, ships carrying German passengers have docked off the shores of Barrow and freely brought the tourists ashore in boats for short visits.
Posted 4 September 2009; 4:08:28 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 27 August 2009) -- Two of the major players in Greenland’s tourism industry are looking to Germans to stop the country’s tourism slump, Sermitsiaq reports. Greenland is experiencing a steep decline in the number of tourists that leading experts predict will continue next year. The situation has Bjarne Eklund, chairman of tourism and business organisation GTE, calling for a plan to increase the number of visitors starting next year. Eklund has met with the head of Air Greenland and representatives from the two organisation are now working together to save the 2010 season. "Quite generally, we will focus more on the German market, and we will double the amount we planned to spend on an initiative in Denmark," Eklund said. GTE and Air Greenland expect to be able to present a new online campaign targeted at the German market in Copenhagen during the West Nordic Travel Mart travel expo in mid-September. The strategy is likely to include information visits for German travel agents. Air Greenland and GTE have yet to determine how much money will be spent on the campaign, but the two companies have announced they will contribute most of the funding for it. They indicated, however, that other companies in the tourism industry will also be asked to chip in, Sermitsiaq says.
Posted 27 August 2009; 3:40:01 PM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 26 August 2009) -- FAIRBANKS - It hasn't been a good tourist season for Interior Alaska. The number of passengers at Fairbanks International Airport fell by 11 percent to about 294,000 in the May-July period, compared to a year ago, said Jesse VanderZanden, the airport's manager. The Convention and Visitors Bureau, meanwhile, expects Fairbanks will see a double-digit decline in stays at hotels and bed and breakfasts, a figure reflected in government revenue from hotel room taxes, said Deb Hickok, bureau president. The decline also has been seen at tourist attractions such as the University of Alaska Museum of the North, where attendance in the May-to-July period fell by roughly one-quarter. The sluggishness in the Interior tourist season mirrors reports from the Anchorage area and Southeast in recent weeks of a big drop-off in visitors this summer. The U.S. recession is getting much of the blame for the decline.
Posted 26 August 2009; 10:46:10 AM. Permalink
(Anouk Lorie/CNN, 17 July 2009) -- LONDON, England - An eco-friendly French boat is hoping to successfully cross the perilous Arctic sea passage that links the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific. "Le Mangier" is attempting to navigate the icy, unpredictable Northern Sea Route, a 6,000 mile passage that skims the northern coast of Siberia. It is a trip that only a handful of leisure boats in history have successfully completed. Not only that, the modified tug boat is also attempting to do it ecologically. The boat's crew is relying partly on wind-power to complete the route, parts of which are only free of ice for two short months during the Arctic summer. Three sails have been added to the tug boat, which normally runs on gas-guzzling motors. ... The voyage, which is projected to take about six months, started in the South of France in April and, if they make it through the route successfully, will end in Japan. The crew's other ecological concessions include relying on solar panels for electricity and warm water, using only long-lasting LED light bulbs eating only organic products during their journey. On-board are seven adults and two children, including a painter, two writers, a scientist and a historian. Currently, the team's primary concern is not the fear of being trapped in ice and being forced to "hibernate" in Siberia's frigid temperatures, but getting the required paperwork in time before the approaching colder months, which cause ice to harden in the passage. "Le Mangier" is in Tromso, Norway waiting for the green light from the Russian government, which rarely allows non-Russian vessels to enter the passage.
Posted 17 July 2009; 2:48:37 PM. Permalink
(John Honeywell, Capt. Greybeard/Mirror, 13 July 2009) -- It was a busy Sunday for the northern Icelandic town of Akureyri. Not only was Cunard's Queen Victoria in the harbour, but in the morning there was also the Costa Magica, which was replaced in the afternoon by the much smaller MV Astor. Thousands of visiting passengers were drawn to the pedestrianised Hafnarstraeti shopping street determined to spend the last of their kroner before heading for Norway. Although, with a population of just 17,000, this is the second largest town in Iceland, and the so-called capital of the north, there were only about a half-dozen souvenir shops open, and people had to queue to get in and queue again to pay. Shopkeepers who chose to go to church at the town's starkly plain, twin-towered Akureyrarkirkja - which contains stained glass windows from the pre-war Coventry Cathedral - missed out on the opportunity to earn some much-needed foreign currency.
Posted 13 July 2009; 3:11:45 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 10 July 2009) -- MURMANSK - More than 120 tourists set sail Friday on an Arctic cruise on board the world's largest nuclear-powered icebreaker, a spokesman for Russia's Atomflot company said. The 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years Since Victory) had more than 120 tourists from Europe and the Americas onboard when it left the port of Murmansk in northern Russia for Franz Josef Land, Vladimir Blinov told RIA Novosti. "The tourists will visit the Franz Josef Land archipelago and see walruses, seals and polar bears in their natural habitat," he said. "The most daring travelers will be able to bathe in the Arctic Ocean," he added. Each tourist paid about $23,000 for the 12-day Arctic tour.
Posted 10 July 2009; 3:35:22 PM. Permalink
(Ken Fate/KCAW - Sitka via APRN, 18 June 2009) -- The new Disney movie The Proposal opens in theaters nationwide this weekend. The film stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds and is set in Sitka. While the production company traveled briefly to Alaska last fall to shoot locations and background, most of the photography occurred in Rockport, Maine, which was dressed up to resemble Sitka.
Posted 21 June 2009; 12:37:43 PM. Permalink
(Svalbard Science Forum, 5 June 2009) -- The Norwegian Polar Institute has developed a cruise handbook for Svalbard with information about natural environment, history and cultural heritage. Now it is also available in English. The handbook provides visitors to Svalbard with quality-assured information about the natural environment, history and cultural heritage sites along the coasts of the archipelago. The handbook comprises an introductory chapter that offers an overview of the the natural environment, history, cultural heritage sites and environmental legislation of Svalbard, followed by chapters covering each of the main areas of Svalbard visited by cruise ship tourists. For the areas along the western and northern coasts of Spitsbergen, some of the most visited landing sites are described in detail, with practical advice pertaining to what visitors may experience there as well as aspects of the sites that need special consideration during visits. Go to cruise handbook: http://cruise-handbook.npolar.no/en/index.html
Posted 6 June 2009; 11:37:39 AM. Permalink
(Brightsurf.com, 29 May 2009) -- Settling the growing debate over ownership of Arctic Ocean resources is complicated by the fact that the various countries involved have different understandings of the geography of the place. Phil Steinberg, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at Florida State University in Tallahassee, says coming to terms with those divergent views is the first necessary step to resolving what is becoming a prickly international issue as global warming opens up more of the Arctic Ocean. In a presentation at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences taking place at Ottawa's Carleton University, Dr. Steinberg says that people make unstated assumptions about geography when they talk about places. In the case of the Arctic Ocean, there are two opposing concepts: Is the Arctic Ocean just water that you pass over, or is it land with water on top of it—land that belongs to a country? He says that when countries such as Russia talk of resource extraction, they are thinking of the Arctic as land with water on top of it. Canada makes the same assumption when it talks of the Northwest Passage as belonging to Canada. The U.S., however, views the Northwest Passage as just water—water that people pass over to travel from one place to another. "In the U.S. national imaginary, I don't think there's the idea that the space up there is divided into territories that belong to anybody," says Dr. Steinberg. He adds that some of those assumptions are built right into our maps. Look at a map of the world, says Dr. Steinberg: Land areas are divided into countries, each in a different colour. That reinforces the idea of ownership. But on a map the sea is a coloured a uniform blue—a graphic representation of the oceans being freely accessible to all. The same idea applies to Antarctica, which is generally coloured white on maps and not marked by firm territorial divisions. In the Arctic, there is one further complicating factor: When the ocean is covered by ice, it can be walked on and to some extent used like land; but when the ice melts, the Arctic is water. "In trying to understand the debate, it's always helpful to understand the implicit references each side is making," says Dr. Steinberg. "Often, the disagreements are over unspoken assumptions. "In the case of the Northwest Passage, a whole lot of what is going on from the U.S. side is fear of setting a precedent. "Small issues become big issues when states become fearful of setting precedents."
Posted 29 May 2009; 9:14:22 AM. Permalink
(Sermitsiaq, 5 May 2009) -- On 5 May six chefs will be competing for the role of TV chef on a new six part television series about travel and food in Greenland. The selection of a television chef will take place at the Danish embassy in London tomorrow, with the lucky winner able to look forward to a comprehensive journey taking them to all over the country on a hunt for raw ingredients to use in their recipes that will be created for the viewing public. The first programme will be filmed in southern Greenland, later to be presented at the MIP-TV Film Festival at Cannes in November. More on this
Posted 4 May 2009; 12:34:32 PM. Permalink
(CTV, 3 May 2009) -- Canada should swallow its pride and realize it needs help to protect the Arctic from the effects of climate change and industrial development, says the author of a new book. In The Big Thaw: Travels in the Melting North, naturalist-turned-journalist Ed Struzik explores how the Arctic is changing, and how its human and animal populations can be protected. He took eleven separate trips to the region while researching the book, travelling on everything from dogsleds to snowmobiles, skis and kayaks to get a clear picture of the effects of climate change. In the book, Struzik explores why polar bear populations are shrinking and how new insects and animal species—even diseases—are moving north into areas where they've never previously existed. "I think it's pretty clear that climate change is one factor," Struzik said. "But the really interesting story is that it's not just climate change, it's the industrialization of the North, it's a lot of habitat displacement that's occurring, so you can't just look at climate change in isolation." He said the challenges facing the region are so vast that it's ridiculous that Arctic nations such as Canada insist on acting unilaterally to try and solve them.
Posted 4 May 2009; 12:13:42 PM. Permalink
(Mike Dunham/Anchorage Daily News, 3 May 2009) -- Every year the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center hosts a themed art show. Previous themes have included sea life, Native art and light at high latitudes. This year being the 50th anniversary of Alaska's admission into the union, the theme is, logically enough: "Reflections on Alaska Statehood: the 49th at 50." For the thousands of Alaskans who will drive to the Kenai Peninsula for salmon fishing this month, this art show offers an attractive way to pass some time between casts. For the thousands of others who aren't necessarily crazy about fishing, but go along out of affection for those who are, it's an even better deal. A number of Alaska's best-known artists have contributed work to the invitational show, which has gained wide respect since its inaugural exhibit in 2004. Kesler Woodward, Jane Terzis, Wanda Seamster, Garry Kaulitz, David Rosenthal, Carol Crump Bryner, Gail Niebrugge and Hal Gage are just a few of the many names included this year.
Posted 3 May 2009; 11:56:04 AM. Permalink
(RedOrbit News, 28 April 2009) -- Iceland’s tourism industry and whaling industry are at odds with each other over the fate of their whale population. During the summer, tourists spend roughly 45 euros each ($60) in hopes of catching a glimpse of a minke whale at sea. Angela Walk, a 37-year-old tour guide, told AFP that her company is against whaling. "We try to convince them to stop. It's not good for Iceland's image," said Walk. But as the tourism industry earns from whale sightings, the whalers make their living from hunting them. They claim it is a traditional and cultural right. "On a 60-ton fin whale, 50 percent is blubber and 50 percent is meat," said Olafur Olafsson, who captains a ship named “H”, for “Hvalur”, or whale in Icelandic. Olafsson told AFP that his boat has spent two decades docked as a result of Iceland’s suspension on whaling activities. But he is set to resume the hunt on Tuesday, June 2 – one day after hunting officially begins. "Mondays are unlucky," he said. When Iceland announced it would raise its ban on commercial whaling three years ago, its initial quota was set at nine fin whales and 40 minke whales. In January, the government raised the quota to 150 fin whales and up to 150 minkes per year. "This is basically an act of sabotage, an act of bitterness, against the incoming government," Arni Finnsson, of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association (INCA), told BBC News in January. Fisheries Minister Steingrimur Sigfusson said Iceland is reconsidering the new quotas and may make changes later this year. "The majority of Icelanders see it as a natural thing ... We are a nation of farmers and fishermen," Said Sigfusson.
Posted 28 April 2009; 4:21:10 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 2 April 2009) -- In an effort to lure more visitors to the North's historic Chilkoot Trail, Parks Canada may add a few creature comforts to appeal to aging baby boomers. The rugged 53-kilometre trail between Alaska and the Yukon—a First Nations trading route made famous during the Klondike gold rush of the 1890s—usually takes hikers three to five days to complete. They need to carry everything they need on their backs, including food, clothing and tents, much as the Klondike stampeders did as they rushed to the Yukon goldfields between 1896 and 1898. Ten years ago about 3,000 hikers per year walked the trail, but that has dropped to about 2,000 annually, said Bob Lewis, superintendent of the national historic site. "People are aging. We're finding that people are looking for more amenities when they travel," Lewis said. "They're looking for an easier time of it than hiking for three or four days along a long trail that's fairly rocky and challenging." The idea of sleeping in a tent in bear country may also deter potential visitors, he said. One idea under consideration is adding cabins or wall-tents for accommodation, he said. Parks Canada may also allow motorized access so visitors could go in just for the day, rather than commiting to a multi-day hike, he said. "For our program, which believes Canadians need to gain a knowledge and appreciation of our past, they have to experience these sites," he said. There are no changes planned to the winter policy of allowing motorized access on designated weekends only, which seems to have stopped conflict between snowmobilers and cross-country skiers, he said.
Posted 28 April 2009; 11:54:11 AM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 22 April 2009) -- A New Zealand candy called an Eskimo and in the stereotypical shape of an Inuit person has angered a Canadian tourist who says it is an insult to her people, a local newspaper reported Tuesday. Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuk Nunavut, told the Taranaki Daily News that the word Eskimo, used by confectionery manufacturer Cadbury/Pascall in its popular candy mix, was unacceptable because it had negative racial connotations. Eskimo means "eater of raw meat," she said, and the correct term for her people is Inuit. Parsons said she would send packets of the lollies to both Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her grandfather, an elder. She said that New Zealanders would not like to see confectionery in the shape of indigenous Maoris, and if anything the lollies should be shaped like a seal, the Inuit's main source of food. A spokesman for Cadbury/Pascall told the paper the product had been on the market for many years, and it was never the intention to offend anyone. But Cadbury Australia and New Zealand communications manager Daniel Ellis said Cadbury/Pascall did not intend to rename or remove the product. "Pascall Eskimos are an iconic New Zealand lolly and have been enjoyed by millions of New Zealanders since they first hit shop shelves way back in 1955," he said. "They continue to be incredibly popular today. Last year, we produced almost 19 million individual Eskimos." Asked what the company would do if it received a complaint from Harper, Ellis said that would be "assessed at the time". Tip Top said a change was unlikely in the short term for its Eskimo Pies. Eskimo Pies, a chocolate-coated icecream, have been available in New Zealand since the 1940s and Tip Top said it was one of their top 10 sellers. It is not just at the supermarket where consumers may take offence. There is a chilly bin called an 'Esky', an Australian band called Eskimo Joe and in a kayak it is standard procedure to perform an 'Eskimo roll' when you capsize. But New Zealander of Inuit descent said he is not offended, and neither is his family who are happy to call themselves Eskimos.
Posted 24 April 2009; 4:24:35 PM. Permalink
(Luna Finnsson/IceNews, 7 April 2009) -- One of Finland’s most flamboyant businessmen has revealed he plans to build an actual-sized copy of the legendary Titanic passenger ship on a piece of dry land in northern Finland. The giant ship will house a hotel and restaurants in a bid to lure more tourists to the northern areas of Finland. “Everybody in Europe knows the Titanic. There are no tourist attractions in the Oulu region and I think it could attract tourists from abroad,” Toivo Sukari told the AFP news service. Sukari operates a furniture store chain called Masku and recently built a massive shopping centre named Ideapark near Tampere in southern Finland. Sukari is now working on this new venture to build another shopping centre in the small village of Kiiminki, around 630km north of Helsinki. Although he could not tell the exact dimensions of the Titanic replica, the original was 269 metres long, 28 metres wide and 53 metres high. “It could have a hotel and a number of restaurants inside,” Sukari commented to the AFP, adding that the cost would run between 30 and 40 million euros. He plans to make the new Titanic as true to the original as possible. “I am sure Japanese tourists, who go skiing in Lapland, would be interested to see it,” he said. If everything goes to plan, construction on the ship will begin later this year and be ready for customers by November 2011.
Posted 7 April 2009; 3:45:26 PM. Permalink
(Caitlin Fitzsimmons/guardian.co.uk, 20 February 2009) — Comedian Billy Connolly's epic journey along the Northwest Passage in the Arctic debuted on ITV1 with an average audience of 4.7 million, last night, Thursday, 19 February. Billy Connolly: Journey to the Edge of the World gained a 20% share at 9pm, easily winning the time slot for ITV1. It beat New Tricks on BBC1, which delivered 4 million and a 17% share, while Natural World, featuring cassowaries, reached 1.7 million and a 7% share for BBC2.
Posted 21 February 2009; 6:25:32 PM. Permalink
(Lisa Murkowski/Washington Post, 23 January 2009)** -- It didn't garner a lot of public attention, but the White House recently released an important new policy statement dealing with an area of the world starting to gain the high level attention it deserves -- the Arctic. In a joint National Security Council-Homeland Security Presidential Directive, President Bush called for enhanced security, increased environmental protection, sustainable energy development, international scientific cooperation and greater involvement of indigenous people in the Arctic. Our Arctic Policy was last updated in 1994, but the Arctic is vastly different today than it was 15 years ago. The administration's updated Arctic policy recognizes the United States as an Arctic nation and details new objectives, directives and implementation for this region. Why all the fuss about a frigid, remote region known to most Americans for Eskimos, polar bears and shifting ice floes? The answer lies in climate change and the fact environmental changes are occurring at an unprecedented rate in this region. The polar ice cap is melting and areas that have never been accessible to energy development and shipping have been opening up during the summer months, leading some to predict that one summer soon the fabled Northwest Passage, connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean, might be a regular shipping route. A more accessible Arctic Ocean will require enhanced environmental protection, navigational and marine safety measures. We must find the balance to allow for reasonable development of the vast natural resources while maintaining strong protections for the environment.
Posted 23 January 2009; 10:18:18 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 23 December 2008) -- A newly published Inuktitut phrase book aims to bridge the communication gap between the Inuit and their visitors. Billed as a phrase book for nearly all occasions, Pocket Inuktitut is the second aboriginal language book put out by Winnipeg-based publishing house Mazinaate. Author Martha Toka Peet, an Inuktitut interpreter and translator originally from the Nunavut community of Taloyoak, said the book should be useful to anyone travelling among the Inuit. The pocket-sized book deals with everyday situations such as going to the grocery store, the church or the hospital. It also includes small talk for conference-goers, and tips on local culture such as how to dress and behave when visiting Inuit communities. The company previously published a book on Ojibwe phrases and is currently working on one for Cree, said publisher Pat Ningewance. "Those are the three languages that, it has been said, will survive," she said. An American indigenous language institute has expressed interest in publishing similar books for some of its languages such as Cherokee and Navajo, she said. The best way to keep a language alive is to use it, she said.
Posted 26 December 2008; 4:44:42 PM. Permalink
(Sermitsiaq, 14 December 2008) -- A country inhabited by alcoholics, who abuse their children and dogs. Just one of the stereotypical portrayals of Greenland that the magazine, Greenland Today, wants to set right. The founder of the magazine, Aviaq Mørch, was tired of being presented with clich%eacute;s about her country and wanted to showcase a modern Greenland. "The world, not least in Denmark, lacks a real perception of Greenland," said Mørch having experienced it for herself while living in Denmark for 12 years. "When I’m out in company and introduced myself, many ask me if I am really from Greenland as they don’t think I look like a Greenlander. I don’t know if it's meant as a compliment, but to me it is almost an insult," said Mørch to Metroxpress newspaper. Greenland Today has more than 100,000 readers in 27 countries.
Posted 18 December 2008; 2:26:16 PM. Permalink
(New York Times, 23 November 2008) -- A new research report suggests that scientists may be able to recreate an extinct woolly mammoth from its long-frozen DNA. The most gung-ho scientists think it could be done in a decade or two for as little as $10 million. The deeper question is, should we try? Michael Crichton warned us in his novel Jurassic Park about the dangers of tinkering with extinct species (and populating a theme park with dinosaurs). That sort of improbable disaster is not what gives us pause. There is little doubt that it would be fun to see a living, breathing woolly mammoth—a shaggy, elephantine creature with long curved tusks who reminds us more of a very large, cuddly stuffed animal than of a T. rex. We're just not sure that it would be all that much fun for the mammoth. The first mammoth would be a lonely zoo freak, vulnerable to diseases unknown to its ancestors. To live a full and rewarding life, it would need other mammoths to hang out with, a mate to produce a family and a suitable place to live. The sort of environment it is used to—the frigid wastes of Siberia and North America—are disappearing all too fast. No one is quite sure why the woolly mammoths died out toward the end of the last ice age, some 10,000 years ago. Theories include warmer temperatures that gradually displaced the plants on which they fed, overhunting by primitive man, an accumulation of harmful genetic mutations, widespread disease, or an asteroid or comet colliding with Earth and disrupting the climate. If scientists do bring back a few mammoths, we suspect our warming world won't look any more hospitable than the one that did them in.
Posted 23 November 2008; 9:12:04 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 November 2008) -- The Yellowknife-based tourism operator Aurora World Corp. has shut down, citing factors from stiff competition to the current economic turmoil for a steady drop in the number of Japanese tourists visiting the Northwest Territories. More than 30 employees are out of work after Aurora World, which offered N.W.T. packages for Japanese tourists wanting to see the northern lights, closed its doors last week. The company is now referring clients to its former competitor, Aurora Village. Aurora World chair Darryl Bohnet told CBC News that there had been a steady decline in tourist numbers since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. "Every year, at this time, we have difficulty projecting what we're going to get for visitors. It's a crystal ball guessing game at the best of times," Bohnet said Thursday. "All indiciations, based on discussions with our suppliers, was that it was going to be another soft year due to the world economy." As well, Bohnet said high fuel prices and competition from other Arctic regions also contributed to the closure. He said Alaska in particular "had a number of charters, underwritten by the Alaskan government, that took clients directly [from Japan] to Alaska without any stops."
Posted 14 November 2008; 2:45:27 PM. Permalink
(Tapio Mainio/Helsingen Sanomat, 25 October 2008) -- Chinese stuffed toys and thin fleece blankets have replaced traditional Lapp dolls in the souvenir market. Increasing numbers of souvenirs are today made in China. However, articles made of wood are usually manufactured in Finland. Such items include for example a bottle opener in the shape of a mobile phone, carved from a block of pine or fir snag [from a standing dead tree, and highly sought-after by builders of cabins]. "Two elderly ladies asked whether we are sure that this cuddly toy has been made in Finland. What should one reply to that," asks Eero Himanen, the Managing Director of Lappituote Oy, Laplandâ€™s largest manufacturer and dealer of souvenirs, while squeezing a stuffed toy elk wearing a pullover with a small Finnish flag and the text "Finland." Lappituote has three souvenir shops in Lapland, in which a tourist can buy a stuffed elk for three to four euros. "One stuffed elk shipped over from China costs us 80 cents. I have no idea what the manufacturing of such a toy has cost in the factory, as there have been several middlemen on the way. We do not know, either, how much Chinese workers could be paid, as the material that goes into the making of the elks is good. It is not profitable to make such stuffed elks in Finland," Himanen reports. ... Articles made of snag [burl] have to be made in Finland, as such material is not available in China. Aarre Salmela is polishing mobile phones made of snag, which will be equipped with keyboards glued on the front side of the articles. Initially, these mobiles were made for Ericsson to be used as business gifts. As there was a growing demand for them, the snag mobiles were included in the general selection of souvenirs. Klaas de Rijk is glueing handles made of pieces of antler to cheese-slicers. "British tourists tend to buy various kinds of glittery items and postcards, while Finns prefer utility articles. Hopefully wooden articles will continue to grow in popularity, as employers like us are needed in the north," Himanen concludes.
Posted 31 October 2008; 10:52:39 PM. Permalink
(NRK Troms & Finnmark via BarentsObserver, 4 September 2008) -- The Norwegian Coastal Steamer, Hurtigruten, is in serious financial trouble. If the situation is not solved it could lead to bankruptcy of the famous tourist attraction. The end of Hurtigruten would be catastrophe for the tourist industry in northern Norway. The management of Hurtigruten ASA is today meets with the Norwegian Minister of Transport and Communications, Liv Signe Navarsete in Bergen. Several Norwegian politicians now call on the Government to take actions to resolve Hurtigruten's critical situation. Hurtigruten has 1800 employees which operate the 11 vessels sailing daily between Bergen and Kirkenes on the Norwegian coast. Many local businesses in the respective ports are dependent on the income from passengers going on and off the Hurtigruten. From before, the Government is annually granting Hurtigruten 31 million EUR in support of the company's sailing from Bergen to Kirkenes with stops in 34 ports. Hurtigruten had a turnover of 480 million EUR in 2007, but the annual account showed a deficit of 28 million EUR. So far this year, the company has had a deficit of 24 million EUR only in the first six months. At the same time last year, the deficit was "only" 4 million EUR. The financial problems are mainly due to large investments in new ships over the last ten years. During the summer season Hurtigruten runs well with many passengers, but with too few passengers in the winter season the income is not good enough to cover all costs. Hurtigruten has advertised three of their ships for sale and will dock one of their ships in the coming winter season to save money.
Posted 6 September 2008; 12:59:43 AM. Permalink
(Whitney Lackenbauer/The Toronto Star, 4 September 2008)** -- Canada's control over the Arctic is melting with the ice. The Russian Bear is hungry again and flotillas of foreign ships (from oil tankers to tourist vessels) are poised to invade our internal waters and pollute our pristine Arctic environment. Canada is behind in the polar "race for resources" and our sovereignty is in jeopardy. We are ill-equipped to deal with challenges because previous governments failed to "stand up for Canada." The future of the circumpolar world is not friendly. So commentators would have us believe. The promise of co-operation and dialogue with northerners that framed government plans for the Arctic in the 1990s has been jettisoned and replaced by a "call to arms." Prime Minister Stephen Harper's announcement last week that Canada will unilaterally extend its pollution controls out to 200 nautical miles was made with an air of confidence. The "use it or lose it" refrain, however, reveals a chronic lack of confidence and encourages a disproportionate emphasis on national defence at the expense of a broader suite of social, economic and diplomatic initiatives. Geo-mapping our resources is a step in the right direction, but the North is not the empty, lawless frontier that commentators are depicting. The time for Canadian action in the North has indeed come, but it need not be justified by partisan rhetoric rooted in paranoia. Contrary to popular belief, there is no immediate sovereignty or security crisis in the North. Current alarmism is driven by misunderstanding, fed by scholars and journalists trying to kick-start southern Canada out of its typical apathy toward northern affairs.
Posted 4 September 2008; 4:26:30 PM. Permalink
(Randy Boswell/Canwest News Service via Canada.com, 4 September 2008) -- Two of Canada's leading scholars on the North have issued a ringing endorsement of the Conservative government's Arctic strategy just days ahead of an expected election call, taking aim at opposition critics who argue that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is too focused on resource development and military expressions of sovereignty rather than northern social development and climate change. "The Stephen Harper government's northern initiatives have strengths and weaknesses that are endemic to all public policy," argue University of Saskatchewan political scientist Greg Poelzer and University of Waterloo historian Ken Coates. "Nevertheless, his government has taken some concrete steps toward a comprehensive northern policy, something that Canada hasn't had since the Diefenbaker administration." The Conservatives have made the historically marginal issues of the North a surprise centrepiece of their re-election campaign, a move underscored by Harper's three-day tour of the Arctic last week and a series of announcements aimed at asserting greater Canadian control over the disputed Northwest Passage and the North's potential oil and gas riches. "Some critics suggest the Conservative government's emphasis on Arctic sovereignty focuses almost singularly on the military, and the 'use it or lose it' approach demonstrates a rejection of a multilateral approach to circumpolar affairs," the two experts state in an essay published Thursday by the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. But "rather than ignoring the interests of northern indigenous people or overlooking the region's delicate environment," the professors contend, "the government is placing the interests of Inuit and other aboriginal people and the environment at the centre of its sovereignty and security concerns." Adding that "Canada has avoided acting like a northern nation for generations," Poelzer and Coates say "we should applaud any government that treats the Canadian Arctic seriously and aims to build a country from sea-to-sea-to-sea.
Posted 4 September 2008; 4:18:29 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review News, 31 August 2008) -- A geological center dedicated to British geologist George Walker (1926-2005), who mapped the geology of east Iceland, opened last weekend in the oldest building in Breiddalsvík, a small village in the East Fjords. Walker's widow and his daughter have donated various objects and research data to the center, including photographs, geological maps, reports and registries, which will now be accessible to scientists and the public, Morgunbladid reports. The center was the idea of geologist Ómar Bjarki Smárason, a former student of Walker, who lectured at the University of London between 1951 and 1978. "For 30 years I have been looking for a location for it," Smárason said. Walker was involved in research in Iceland between 1955 and 1965 and also visited the country in 1973 and 1988. He published many essays about his research in Iceland.
Posted 1 September 2008; 8:59:07 PM. Permalink
(Rob Huebert/Globe and Mail, 16 August 2008 (print), 18 August 2008 (online))** -- The Northwest Passage may be ice-free this summer, for only the second time in recorded history. The Canadian Arctic is being fundamentally transformed. As the ice diminishes, new actors and interests will arrive. Who is coming? What will they do? What does it mean for Canada? Many people expect international shippers to take advantage of the shorter distances between Europe and Asia to carry goods through an increasingly ice-free Passage. Most shipping experts, however, think that will happen only in the medium term. ... More troubling is that the government has failed to develop a comprehensive policy framework to control the Arctic effectively. The Martin government had begun such an effort, the Northern Strategy, with a section that was to provide a much stronger policy framework to assert Canadian control over our Arctic waters. Its defeat derailed that effort. The Harper government has promised to continue this work, but has not publicly released any version of its strategy. Time is running out. If we do not have a clear policy framework for all shipping in the Arctic, it will be too late to do so, after the new shipping arrives. Already, some foreign companies are beginning to resist Canadian efforts to control their activities. [See also Globe and Mail, "Rob Huebert on Canada and Arctic sovereignty,"** 18 August 2008, in which this discussion continues.]
Posted 19 August 2008; 8:08:34 PM. Permalink
(Ritzau via Sermitsiak', 13 August 2008) -- In just one year the number of cruise ships coming to Greenland has risen by 50 percent. Greenland has become a very popular tourist destination for cruise ships. The number of boats visiting the country has increased by 50 percent since last year and 2008 has already been the busiest cruise ship year in the nation's history. 'There's been a huge increase in interest in the Arctic,' said Admiral Henrik Kudsk, head of Greenland Command. 'Along with tourism, many people have also begun investing in offshore activities.' During cruise ship season from May to October, 45 different ships will sail Greenland's coast, carrying around 55,000 people—equal to Greenland's entire population.
Posted 13 August 2008; 8:56:08 PM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 9 August 2008) -- Last summer, Barrow witnessed a surprise invasion of friendly foreigners. Four hundred German tourists, having made the Northwest Passage in a cruise ship, showed up. Local officials in Barrow didn't know they were coming. Neither did the Coast Guard. Good thing they were friendly. It's also a good thing the ship didn't need emergency help at sea. Good thing it didn't spill any oil. In those emergencies, the Coast Guard would have had to respond from Kodiak, roughly 900 miles to the south. It would have taken Coast Guard crews most of a day just to get the necessary equipment and personnel up to Barrow. (The North Slope Borough has an impressive search and rescue operation, especially for a municipality of 6,750 people, but it can only do so much with one helicopter and small boats.) As America's Arctic thaws out, Alaskans can expect a lot more ship traffic—and a lot more reason to call on the Coast Guard. Tourists are already coming. Oil explorers are itching to drill far offshore in hostile waters. The region might even see international fishing boats, on the prowl for new grounds. … As commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said in Alaska last week, "I'm agnostic as to the science [about global warming]. But there is water where it didn't used to be [in the U.S. Arctic] and the Coast Guard is responsible for it." His agency is in the middle of a season-long exercise to learn what it needs to handle those responsibilities in Alaska's arctic waters. The most pressing need is the most obvious: The Coast Guard needs staging areas closer than Kodiak for its planes and ships. Until then, the service is working against what Adm. Allen calls "the tyranny of distance." … As other nations scramble to assert maritime claims in the Arctic and pursue new riches of the north, America is being left behind. If there's a five-nation race in the Arctic, says Alaska-based Coast Guard Adm. Gene Brooks, "we're fifth." "The real question is what America wants to do up here [in the Arctic]," says Adm. Brooks, who runs the Coast Guard district based in Juneau.
Posted 10 August 2008; 5:58:43 PM. Permalink
(AP via Anchorage Daily News, 16 July 2008) -- Visitor numbers at Denali National Park are down 13 percent so far this year. The park's public affairs office reports that 143,514 visitors entered Denali so far this year compared with 164,324 at this time in 2007. Park public affairs manager Kris Fister says camping reservations dropped 17 percent through June 22. Businesses are offering bargains in hopes of persuading more Alaskans to visit the park. Denali Park Resorts, for instance, is offering half-price deals, a gas card and specials on tours and activities.
Posted 23 July 2008; 12:42:42 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 17 July 2008) -- The sea ice has retreated around south Baffin, marking the start to this summer's cruise season. Although large cruise ships still haven't discovered Nunavut, traffic in territorial waters will be busier than ever in 2007. That's because some tour companies have increased the number of ships they are bringing to Nunavut, said the Government of Nunavut's tourism advisor, Mark Young Sr. Ten cruise ships plan to visit Pangnirtung this summer, four more than last summer. This community remains one of the most popular cruise destinations in Nunavut, but Iqaluit, Pond Inlet, Resolute and Cambridge Bay are popular too. A list of cruise ships planning to call on Nunavut in 2008 shows a total 26 of groups travelling on eight different cruise vessels, some of which will tour Nunavut more than once. ... The largest cruise ship scheduled to come to Nunavut—the Hanseatic—can carry up to 164 passengers. But the relatively small cruise ships coming to Nunavut this summer shows that larger cruisers, capable of carrying thousands of passengers, are not yet coming to Nunavut. Meanwhile, the rest of the circumpolar world is grappling with an ever-increasing number of large cruise ship arrivals.
Posted 18 July 2008; 3:26:52 PM. Permalink
(Sermitsiak, 14 July 2008) -- Two elderly Danes were killed by a glacial wave while visiting the Kangerluarsuk Fjord in western Greenland. A giant wave resulting from ice that melted and dropped from a glacier swept five Danish tourists into the icy Kangerluarsuk Fjord on Greenland's west coast Sunday, killing two, reports KNR radio. Uummannaq assistant police chief Carl Borup said that the tragedy occurred while the group of 15 tourists from the boat 'Kisak' stood on a plateau at the glacier to take pictures. 'Witnesses said that there was suddenly a loud sound like a helicopter and a huge wave came pouring in on them,' said Borup. Five tourists were pulled into the water, three of whom were rescued by emergency teams. The two men killed were 70 and 73 years old and both from the Copenhagen area. The 73-year-old man's body was found immediately after the wave hit, but the 70-year-old was not found until later that evening
Posted 15 July 2008; 3:24:54 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review News, 21 June 2008) -- The tourist industry in the south of Iceland is booming this summer. The low rate of the Icelandic króna seems to be attracting tourists. "There is a large increase in direct booking with our travel agencies. The main reason for that is that the travel agencies have been selling tours on fixed prices in foreign currency so therefore the traveler doesn't get the benefits of the low rate of the króna. Today, Icelanders are offering accommodation that is 30 percent cheaper than last year," Fjölnir Torfason, farmhouse accommodation owner in Hali in south Iceland, told Morgunbladid. Torfason says that almost every bed is booked through the summer. Torfason's neighbor and colleague, Björn Thorbergsson, says that the bookings have multiplied this summer. Other examples of increased tourism because of the low rate of the króna can be found in Iceland. Reynir Jónsson, CEO of Fjallasport ("Mountain Sport") says that since the króna fell, Iceland has become attractive for Norwegian jeep enthusiasts.
Posted 21 June 2008; 4:08:27 PM. Permalink
(Joe Wojtas/New York Times, 11 June 2008) -- FROM 1875 to 1919, the whaling captain and explorer George Comer of East Haddam made 14 voyages to the harsh region of Hudson Bay in the Canadian Arctic. During that time, Comer befriended the Inuits, the native people of that windswept landscape who had been helping whalers for many years, and came to know them as his other "family." The ship captain, a man with little formal scientific training, amassed countless journals and logs with his observations of the Inuits. He took 300 photographs of them, made 300 plaster masks of their faces and made 65 phonographic recordings of their music and voices. In his day the collections and observations made him a celebrity in the museum and anthropology worlds. Mystic Seaport has now brought together many of Comer's artifacts, like the camera and phonograph he used to take the pictures and make the recordings, in a new exhibition that opened on May 23. The exhibition provides one of the most complete accountings of life in the Inuit villages. Not only are Comer's photographs of the Inuits on display, but also the tools that people in the photographs are holding, like a bone drill and a fish spear, and the clothing they are wearing, like a caribou fur parka and sealskin boots. The voices heard on the recordings, including Comer's, are those of the people in the photographs. Some of the artifacts are from the American Museum of Natural History's collection of 3,000 Comer items, none of which had ever before been borrowed by another institution.
Posted 11 June 2008; 5:19:05 PM. Permalink
(Rachel D'Oro/Anchorage Daily News, 26 May 2008) -- With runaway fuel prices, it's somehow fitting that Jim and Wilma Fowler's Airstream Safari sports a green sign, "Alaska or Bust," on the back window of the 25-foot travel trailer. The couple's friends were flabbergasted that they were driving 3,800 miles to Alaska from Oak Park, Calif., for a three-month trek in their son's adopted state. Still early in their sojourn, the Fowlers have put in 5,000 miles and paid $2,300 for the diesel fueling their Ford F20—and they're not bust broke yet, said Jim Fowler, 70, a retired aerospace worker. "It's getting closer every day, though," he laughed at an Anchorage RV park. "It really hurts to have to pay that, but what do you do? We're not filthy rich, but we're lucky enough to afford to do this within limitations." Alaska's tourism leaders anticipate many more like-minded travelers to a state where summer visitors far outnumber its population of 640,000. But with burgeoning oil prices and the U.S. toying with a recession, Alaska's second largest private industry would be lucky to break even with last year's record season, which saw 1.7 million-plus visitors who spent more than $1.5 billion in the state, according to the Alaska Travel Industry Association.
Posted 26 May 2008; 2:27:57 PM. Permalink
(The Local, 14 May 2008) -- With a large majority Sweden's nine million people living south of Stockholm, Norrland—the northern two-thirds of Sweden—is often described as the continent's last wilderness. And while the winters are harsh and dark, the summer sees the land of the midnight sun live up to its name. Norrland's cultural history is also fascinating: the indigenous Sami people have a distinctive language and culture, which is now flourishing after centuries of discouragement—or downright suppression—by the state. Here are a few ways to get a taste of Sweden’s most northerly reaches....
Posted 14 May 2008; 4:27:47 PM. Permalink
(Mark Schoofs/Wall Street Journal, 10 May 2008) -- Every winter, hordes of divers head to the congested, overdeveloped scuba-diving destinations of the Caribbean and the Red Sea. But there's a less-traversed option: Fly to Moscow, take the railroad 27 hours north, and drive two hours along snow-covered dirt roads to a village almost on the Arctic Circle, along an inlet of the White Sea. Then, take a snowmobile to a small black triangle cut into the ice. Ice diving is one of the last grand scuba adventures. Popular destinations include Antarctica, Newfoundland and certain lakes in the Austrian Alps. One of the best—and least known—is Russia's White Sea. There, diaphanous, rainbow-tinged comb jellies (like jellyfish without the tentacles) float by. On rocks lie starfish and related brittle stars of every description. There are ophiuras, whose thin, spidery legs are striped wine-red and cream-white, and there are glittering, ruby-red crossasters with stubby legs, each tipped with delicate, filament tentacles. Luxuriant forests of large round anemones, each one ivory or pink-orange, look like some 1960s hallucinogenic art installation. Among them live multicolored sponges and algae, colonies of barnacles and tiny neon-lavender skeleton crabs. Wolf fish hide in crevasses. On the sea bed billow acres of low-growing kelp, whose undulation is as mesmerizing as a Bach fugue. Above it all is the ice, almost alive, filtering sunlight into varying shades of emerald and gold. When one finally ascends back up through the ice hole, or maina, one literally ascends into light. ... [See also slide show.]
Posted 11 May 2008; 7:30:09 PM. Permalink
(Emily Dugan/Independent, 10 May 2008) -- Olav Mathias-Eira is a reindeer-herder. So was his father. And his father's father. He is a member of the Sami community, one of the largest indigenous groups remaining in Europe, and his family have been herding reindeer in the same stretch of the Norwegian Arctic since the 1400s. But, because of climate change, their lifestyle, unchanged for centuries, is now at risk. So Mr Mathias-Eira, 50, has travelled to Britain to issue an urgent plea in the hope that his people and livelihood can be saved. The atmosphere in the Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else in the world, putting Mr Mathias-Eira and the Sami in the front line of global climate change. "Climate change is threatening our economy as reindeer herders," he said. "Because this is part of our traditional way of life, if the economy goes, probably the entire Sami culture would go with it. "Everything about climate change is happening too fast, much faster than we predicted. The [weather] is so unpredictable, so unusual. It can rain in the winter when it usually didn't rain before. The actions need to be fast too. World participation is most important now, but also our voices are not heard, and that's a pity." The heavy winter rains and storms, previously unheard of, are making their ancient ice-roads treacherous. Because these thinning pathways are necessary to reach their reindeer, they turn herding into a life-threatening experience. Now only 10 per cent of the remaining Samis are herding reindeer, which means that a cornerstone of their traditional way of life is in jeopardy. "The reindeer [weighs] about 80kg, and it needs a good, solid ice when you are moving the herd," said Mr Mathias-Eira. "But traditional knowledge is no good any more, we just can't trust the ice." [Note: This video interview was posted to YouTube on 12 August 2007.]
Posted 11 May 2008; 7:11:38 PM. Permalink
(Doug Mellgren/AP via APP.com, 11 May 2008) -- One disconcerting thing about sightseeing on the frozen Arctic islands at the edge of the polar ice pack: the biggest tourist attractions might be returning your stare. And to them, you're a potential meal. There are an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 polar bears on or around Svalbard, Norway, an Arctic archipelago as far north as you can fly on a commercial flight. At about 78 degrees north latitude, it is less than 620 miles from the North Pole. Polar bears are so elusive that British researcher Tony van Eyken, a two-year resident of Spitsbergen, the largest island, cited a local joke: "You can either carry a rifle or a camera, because if you have a camera, you'll never see a bear." Later, apparently worried, he sent an SMS warning that polar bears should not be taken lightly. "Don't seriously encourage anyone to carry only a camera and not a gun," he wrote. Tourists and residents venturing outside Longyearbyen, the main settlement of 2,000 people, are urged to carry rifles. The bears can weigh 1,000 pounds, fear nothing and, though they prefer seals, see anything that moves as food. A bear last killed a human here in 1995, local officials said, and they do sometimes approach or enter town.
Posted 11 May 2008; 4:15:59 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 7 April 2008) -- Federal Environment Minister John Baird confirmed Monday that he will create a new national park reserve near the Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. "I'm happy to be able to tell you that the area in the upper south Nahanni watershed is now protected by an interim land withdrawal, protecting an area 1Â½ times the size of Prince Edward Island, from future development," Baird said that morning at a news conference in Ottawa. CBC News reported last month that the Privy Council Office posted an order-in-council announcing the 7,600-kilometre land withdrawal for areas that will make up the Naats'ihch'oh National Park Reserve. The land, located west of Tulita, N.W.T., has been withdrawn for five years. Baird also announced $500,000 over two years to negotiate permanent land protection with the Sahtu Dene and MÃ©tis peoples in the area. "Water is a big part of our life in the North. That is why we wanted to protect all the waters, all the rivers that come to the Mackenzie River," Grand Chief Frank Andrew of the Sahtu Dene Council said at Monday's announcement. "Listening to the minister talking about the withdrawal of the lands, I'm happy to hear that. Thank you very much." Naats'ihch'oh—meaning "stands like a porcupine" in the Dene language â€” will be adjacent to Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Dehcho region. The area, traditionally known as Begadeh, will take in the upper quarter of the Nahanni watershed, including Mount Wilson and the Mooseponds.
Posted 8 April 2008; 8:13:58 AM. Permalink
(Karen Mackenzie/Northern News Services, 31 March 2008) -- Nunavut - Grise Fiord welcomed its first polar bear sport hunter of the season last week but only time will tell whether others will follow. The commercial hunt has been slow in many Nunavut communities, while American clients await a U.S. decision on whether to list polar bears as a threatened animal under its Endangered Species Act. "Everything was in a lot of limbo because of this U.S. decision, but that hold is off for a little. It looks like we're going ahead," said Marty Kuluguqtuq, the sport hunt co-ordinator for the Iviq Hunters and Trappers Organization (HTO). The community allocated 10 of its 35 tags to the sport hunt this year, all of which have been claimed by American hunters. One hunter visited the community and bagged a bear last week. But while the other tags are all spoken for, the hunters' arrivals are still in the air, according to Dan Frederick, an agent for Americana Expeditions, the Edmonton-based firm which handles Grise Fiord's clients. "Theoretically we've sold the hunts but whether or not they're going to go is the next thing. They haven't made their final payment, I'll put it that way," he said. A trip to the high Arctic for a polar bear hunt could cost upwards of $40,000, between air fare, accommodations and guides. And with a price tag like that, "They don't want to go hunting and find out they can't bring their bears back out," Frederick said.
Posted 1 April 2008; 11:15:15 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 18 February 2008) -- Yukon Quest newcomer Ken Anderson is holding onto his lead as he and his sled-dog team entered the second-last checkpoint in Carmacks, Yukon, Monday morning. Anderson arrived in Carmacks at 10:40 a.m. PT, just three minutes ahead of three-time defending Quest champion Lance Mackey. Yukon musher Michelle Phillips of Tagish is in third place, having arrived at the Stepping Stone checkpoint near Pelly Crossing at 2:10 a.m. A wrong turn just outside Dawson City over the weekend may have cost Mackey the lead, as the defending champ has since been chasing Anderson for first place. Both Fairbanks-based mushers raced through the wee hours Monday morning, coming and going through the McCabe Creek checkpoint within 20 minutes of each other. Anderson arrived at McCabe Creek first at 4:55 a.m. PT, leaving five minutes later. Mackey arrived at 5:15 a.m. and also left five minutes later. [...] Sixteen teams are still running in the Yukon Quest, which began in Fairbanks, Alaska, on Feb. 9. All teams have been racing through Alaska and the Yukon, hoping to make it to the finish line in Whitehorse.
Posted 18 February 2008; 2:08:44 PM. Permalink
(Gene Sloan/USA Today, Cruise Log, 15 February 2008) -- An expedition cruise to the Arctic Circle is a spectacular adventure, if you have the time. But not everybody can leave work for the three weeks or more the typical Arctic voyage requires. Enter Quark Expeditions, which has launched a new line of shorter Arctic expeditions for the coming summer that only will take you away from work for two weeks.
Posted 15 February 2008; 5:00:27 PM. Permalink
(Tana Lowen Stratton/Arctic Council News, 24 January 2008) -- Share your history and tell us how you are, is the message in a brand new homepage aimed toward young people in the Arctic. "Your north is my north is our north" is the slogan of a brand new webpage aimed toward the Arctic Youth. In short the homepage is called North3 [see link at right]. Here, young people are encouraged to record and share their views on northern issues and to participate actively in International Polar Year activities. North3 is supported by Canada's Northern Initiative Fund. The project is part of a larger Arctic youth website called "Ookpik" that provides young northern residents access to Arctic networks, knowledge and events in eight languages. Both are hosted by the International Institute of Sustainable Development in Winnipeg, Canada.
Posted 29 January 2008; 3:31:21 AM. Permalink
(SR International, 13 January 2008) -- According to Dagens Nyheter, entrepreneur Thorbjörn Holmlund is one giant elk step closer to having his dream come true. That dream sees tourists enjoying a meal in the belly restaurant of this giant construction, lovers of the arts enjoying concerts and art exhibitions and businesses setting up conferences—all somewhere in the body of this giant moose. Holmlund's vision is also a giant one. He hopes that if the moose gets built, it will be a bigger tourist magnet than the popular ice hotel.
Posted 14 January 2008; 1:25:25 AM. Permalink
(YLE News, 1 January 2008) -- Tourism has become as big a source of employment in Finnish Lapland as the traditional forest industry. Revenues coming into Finnish Lapland have also risen at a dizzying pace, with a new income record set once again during the year just ended. According to Sami Laakkonen of the Regional council of Lapland, the travel industry now provide 5,000 jobs in Finnish Lapland and gross earnings for the sector last year hit half a billion euros. As recently as in the year 2000 the travel industry brought in around 320 million euros and employed some 3,000 people. Approximately 7.5 percent of all employed people in Finnish Lapland work in travel industry jobs, as compared to less that 4 percent nationwide.
Posted 2 January 2008; 4:48:00 AM. Permalink