Photos: Development dilemma as eastern Greenland eyes tourism boost

UPDATED ON OCT 20, 2019 11:54 AM IST
A sled is pictured in Kulusuk, a settlement in the Sermersooq municipality located on the island of the same name on the southeastern shore of Greenland. Kayaking past blue-white icebergs drifting along near a pristine harbour, wandering around colourful houses or trekking in the snow-capped wilderness--July and August are high season for tourists in eastern Greenland. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)
Many of the 85,000 tourists who visit each year head to the west coast, but eastern Greenland, with its glaciers, wilderness and wildlife starring whales and polar bears, is also drawing visitors. Sarah Bovet, a Swiss artist, was on an artistic residency in Greenland when she visited Kulusuk and its 250 souls. Although she had imagined a small village before arriving, its stunning views and bright colours still came as a surprise. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)
An aircraft of Air Greenland departs from Kulusuk. Arrivals to the island grew 10 percent year-on-year from 2014 to 2017, and three percent in 2018, according to the tourist board, Visit Greenland. Many adventure seekers and nature lovers arrive by plane, but cruise ships also bring admirers, hugging the picture perfect coastline. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)
But they are not alone in taking an interest in the world’s largest island. The Danish territory’s rich natural resources and growing strategic importance as the Arctic ice sheet melts have attracted the attention of US President Donald Trump. The Arctic region has untapped reserves of oil, gas and minerals, as well as abundant stocks of fish and shrimp. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)
Denmark colonised Greenland in the 1700s, granting it autonomy in 1979. Today, many Greenlandic political parties advocate full independence. The territory still receives an annual subsidy from Copenhagen, which was 4.3 billion Danish kroner (576 million euros) in 2017, and tourism could help it to become economically self-reliant. Like many parts of Greenland, Kulusuk has no tarmac roads and visitors must travel by plane or boat. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)
Andrea Fiocca (L), Italian researcher and tour guide leads a group of tourists in Kulusuk. The growth in tourism could put a strain on the village’s infrastructure, and the sector faces unique challenges given Greenland’s location, weather and the cost of travelling there. Day tours of Kulusuk with flights from the Icelandic capital Reykjavik are 97,000 Icelandic kronur ($780, 700 euros). (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)
Anganni Karola, a 24-years-old Greenlandic musher works on his sled. Greenland must tackle its infrastructure challenges if it wants to develop tourism. Government-funded work is under way to extend runways at the capital Nuuk and Ilulissat, both on the west coast, and a new airport is planned in the south. The tourist body said it would weigh the environmental impact of boosting infrastructure, both on the environment and on local communities. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)
“If you want nature to survive that, you have to build up the infrastructure,” Johanna Bjork Sveinbjornsdottir said, who runs tours in Kulusuk for an Iceland-based company, pointing to the lack of officially designated campsites around Kulusuk, with no rubbish bins or toilets for travellers outdoors and no one supervising the sites. Despite the concerns, Sveinbjornsdottir hopes visitors will keep coming.”They go back as different people,” she said. “Everything is beyond what you ever imagined.” (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

A sled is pictured in Kulusuk, a settlement in the Sermersooq municipality located on the island of the same name on the southeastern shore of Greenland. Kayaking past blue-white icebergs drifting along near a pristine harbour, wandering around colourful houses or trekking in the snow-capped wilderness--July and August are high season for tourists in eastern Greenland. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

Many of the 85,000 tourists who visit each year head to the west coast, but eastern Greenland, with its glaciers, wilderness and wildlife starring whales and polar bears, is also drawing visitors. Sarah Bovet, a Swiss artist, was on an artistic residency in Greenland when she visited Kulusuk and its 250 souls. Although she had imagined a small village before arriving, its stunning views and bright colours still came as a surprise. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

An aircraft of Air Greenland departs from Kulusuk. Arrivals to the island grew 10 percent year-on-year from 2014 to 2017, and three percent in 2018, according to the tourist board, Visit Greenland. Many adventure seekers and nature lovers arrive by plane, but cruise ships also bring admirers, hugging the picture perfect coastline. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

But they are not alone in taking an interest in the world’s largest island. The Danish territory’s rich natural resources and growing strategic importance as the Arctic ice sheet melts have attracted the attention of US President Donald Trump. The Arctic region has untapped reserves of oil, gas and minerals, as well as abundant stocks of fish and shrimp. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

Denmark colonised Greenland in the 1700s, granting it autonomy in 1979. Today, many Greenlandic political parties advocate full independence. The territory still receives an annual subsidy from Copenhagen, which was 4.3 billion Danish kroner (576 million euros) in 2017, and tourism could help it to become economically self-reliant. Like many parts of Greenland, Kulusuk has no tarmac roads and visitors must travel by plane or boat. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

Andrea Fiocca (L), Italian researcher and tour guide leads a group of tourists in Kulusuk. The growth in tourism could put a strain on the village’s infrastructure, and the sector faces unique challenges given Greenland’s location, weather and the cost of travelling there. Day tours of Kulusuk with flights from the Icelandic capital Reykjavik are 97,000 Icelandic kronur ($780, 700 euros). (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

Anganni Karola, a 24-years-old Greenlandic musher works on his sled. Greenland must tackle its infrastructure challenges if it wants to develop tourism. Government-funded work is under way to extend runways at the capital Nuuk and Ilulissat, both on the west coast, and a new airport is planned in the south. The tourist body said it would weigh the environmental impact of boosting infrastructure, both on the environment and on local communities. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

“If you want nature to survive that, you have to build up the infrastructure,” Johanna Bjork Sveinbjornsdottir said, who runs tours in Kulusuk for an Iceland-based company, pointing to the lack of officially designated campsites around Kulusuk, with no rubbish bins or toilets for travellers outdoors and no one supervising the sites. Despite the concerns, Sveinbjornsdottir hopes visitors will keep coming.”They go back as different people,” she said. “Everything is beyond what you ever imagined.” (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP)

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Kayaking past the blue-white icebergs drifting by its harbour, wandering around its colourful houses or trekking into the snow-capped wilderness surrounding it--Many of the 85,000 tourists who visit each year head to the west coast, but eastern Greenland, with its glaciers, wilderness and wildlife starring whales and polar bears, is also drawing visitors. But with the rising visitors, locals fear that the lack of infrastructure in the region might hamper the wilderness of the place.

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