Prepare for the worst, Greenland tourism industry warned

Greenland already suffered a decrease in visitors of 70 percent last summer.

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A cruise ship lies in port in Ilulissat, Greenland. (Algkalv / CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Greenland’s tourism industry should prepare for a summer without any cruise ships and a reopening of its borders to airline passengers no earlier than July, effectively eliminating a third of the high season, warned the national tourism promotion board, Visit Greenland. That bleak assessment came in a forecast of various scenarios public health authorities could choose as they wind down COVID-19 restrictions.

“There are a lot of things we need to find out before we can predict what tourism will look like in 2021, but those are things no one can say anything about right now,” Mads-Daniel Skifte, Visit Greenland’s acting managing director.

The loss of much of the coming season would follow a disastrous year last year in which the number of people visiting Greenland fell by 70 percent.

[Greenland looks to grow tourism by tapping adventure, winter travel trends]

Currently, anyone seeking to enter Greenland must request permission. Upon arrival, they must quarantine themselves for a minimum of five days and test negative for COVID-19.

The strict entry requirements are credited with keeping the number of cases of Covid-19 to a minimum. Currently there are no known cases and a total of 31, mostly isolated, cases have been reported.

The restrictions are valid until April 18. So far, public health officials have not indicated whether they will be eased. Any changes will likely depend on the progress being made on the vaccination program. Public health authorities have set tentative date of June 21 to finish vaccinating, but said this could be pushed back if they encountered delays.

[Greenland reimposes traveler quarantines in a bid to remain coronavirus-free]

In Visit Greenland’s most positive — but least likely — outlook for the summer season, the changes would require cruise ship passengers to prove they have been vaccinated before being able to land. Airline passengers would need to quarantine themselves.

However, the chance of this happening is only 5 percent, Visit Greenland reckons.

A third potential, and also unlikely, scenario is a July date for resumption of cruise tourism and an elimination of the quarantine requirement for airline passengers who have either been vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative.