The coronavirus is already having a major impact on Arctic tourism.
March and April are usually some of the busiest tourist months in Northern Norway and are vital for local businesses. But this year the small town of Lyngen, just east of Tromsø in Troms and Finnmark County, is empty as people stay away because of the coronavirus crisis, leaving local business fearing for their future.
In a normal year, thousands of people come to the Lyngen area to hike, ski, climb and if they are lucky, see the northern lights.
But in the last week, almost all bookings have been cancelled.
Mads Fagerborg Kvien, who runs Lyngen Adventure that organizes tours, now spends his days dealing with cancellations.
He told Reuters that his business was in “a full crisis situation,” with huge uncertainty leaving them unable to plan for the coming weeks and months.
Henrika Lonngren, who has run the Magic Mountain Lodge for 10 years, said that within four days last week all bookings for the remainder of March and the two first weeks of April had been cancelled.
Unless she receives help from the government, she is not sure her business will survive.
The Norwegian government has announced it will launch a series of measures to aid industries that have been hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, including airlines and hotels, without elaborating on the specific proposals.
For now Lonngren looks after her children, who are home from school, takes care of the lodge, talks to the bank and pays bills which come as usual. But she remains hopeful some tourists, especially from neighbouring Sweden and Finland, will come at the end of the winter season, which lasts till the middle of May.
Finnish mountain guide Tatu Autio said that although there were no tourists around, he would stay in Lyngen because the situation was not better anywhere else.
But while he waits for people starting to come again, he knows what he will do: “Ski. As much as I can. Alone.”