As travellers flock to Greenland in droves to absorb its breathtaking icebergs and pure magnificence, authorities are mulling methods to regulate tourism to guard the delicate surroundings, already threatened by global warming.
“It’s a dream vacation spot,” mentioned Yves Gleyze, a veteran off-the-beaten-track French vacationer in his 60s as he arrived on the airport in Ilulissat.
Guests to the third-biggest city within the Danish autonomous territory are met by a rugged, austere panorama of gray rock and sparse vegetation.
However mesmerising views of huge icebergs become visible after only a quick drive.
Breaking off from the Ilulissat glacier within the neighbouring fjord, the majestic blocks of ice drift slowly by in Disko Bay, the occasional whale making an look. The postcard views attracted 50,000 vacationers in 2021, greater than 10 instances the city’s inhabitants. Greater than half make solely a brief pit cease throughout an Arctic cruise.
Numbers are anticipated to swell with the opening of a world airport within the subsequent two years, a fine addition to the island’s revenues but in addition a problem, given the fragile — and melting — ecosystem.
Controlling tourism as icebergs get smaller in Greenland
Up to now 40 years, the Arctic has warmed almost 4 instances quicker than the remainder of the planet, based on a latest scientific examine.
“We are able to see adjustments every single day attributable to climate change: the icebergs are getting smaller, the glacier is retreating,” mentioned mayor Palle Jeremiassen.
Thawing permafrost can be threatening the steadiness of some buildings and infrastructure.
With the stainless panorama so coveted by vacationers altering, officers are decided to guard it with out turning away vacationers. “We need to management the arrival of tourist ships right here,” mentioned Jeremiassen, noting the dangers posed by the highly-polluting vessels.
As a way to protect the environment and group, Ilulissat ought to solely welcome “one ship max per day, max one thousand vacationers per ship,” he mentioned.
Not too long ago, three cruise ships arrived on the identical day, spewing out 6,000 guests.
Jeremiassen mentioned the city’s infrastructure shouldn’t be designed to accommodate such numbers, neither is it ready to make sure that vacationers respect protected areas, notably within the fjord.
Close by Iceland, the place the tourism trade has been flourishing for 20 years, is an instance of how to not do issues, he insisted. “We don’t need to be like Iceland. We don’t need mass tourism. We need to management tourism right here. That’s the important thing we have now to seek out.”
Fishermen feeling the impression
Greenland has loved self-rule since 2009 however hopes to realize full independence from Denmark in the future.
To take action means it must get by with out subsidies from Copenhagen, which presently make up a 3rd of its funds. It has but to discover a technique to stand alone financially, and for now, its major pure useful resource is the ocean.
In Ilulissat, one in three locals dwell off fishing, which accounts for many of Greenland’s revenues. However local weather change is having a huge impact.
“Again once I was younger we had pack ice we may stroll on,” mentioned Lars Noasen, the captain of a vacationer boat as he navigated deftly between iceberg particles in Disko Bay. “Now the pack ice shouldn’t be so strong anymore. You possibly can’t use it for something, you’ll be able to’t dogsled on the ice and fish like within the previous days.”
Up to now 20 years, Greenland’s huge ice cap has misplaced 4.7 trillion tonnes of ice, contributing to a sea degree rise of 1.2 centimetres by itself, based on Danish Arctic researchers.
The disappearing ice has affected fishermen. “The ice circumstances are altering. The principle fjord was closed off by enormous icebergs and sea ice and so they (the fishermen) weren’t capable of sail in earlier than,” mentioned Sascha Schiott, a researcher on the Greenland Institute of Pure Assets.
Now they will. Boats are additionally capable of head out fishing year-round now, which has elevated fishermen’s hauls.
However the dimension of the fish they’re catching has decreased, largely resulting from overfishing, says Schiott.
Ejner Inusgtuk, a craggy-faced fisherman making ready his strains within the port, disagreed and mentioned local weather change is accountable. “The local weather is simply too heat.”
This story was printed by way of AFP Relaxnews
(Predominant and Featured picture: Odd Andersen/ AFP)