Tourists to help Greenlanders patch the budgethole

Instead of focusing solely on extracting raw materials, Greenlanders want to attract more tourists to cover their annual expenses

Focusing on tourism will help Greenlanders fix their financial problems, many local politicians believe. 

The country has a budget deficit of almost one billion kroner, and finding a way to fill the financial hole is a hot topic in the current election campaign.

While Greenlanders have until November 28 to decide who will sit in their Landsting, politicians are competing with ideas. 

You won't see polar bears in Thailand
Some suggest icebergs, whale watching and trips across the ice cap should be equally attractive to tourists as going on holidays to Tuscany or Thailand. 

"We are facing huge economic challenges, which is why we need to both implement reforms in a number of areas and to find new ways to develop businesses," the leading candidate for the left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA), Sara Olsvig, told DR.

While during the last elections, the debate focused particularly on the island's mineral resources, this time it's all about the tourists. 

"We can't simply just sit and wait for the mining sector. There are so many factors that come into play regarding the mining sector. We need to look at other industries, and so we choose tourism as one the alternatives," Olsvig explained.

The best attraction in the Arctic region
According to Visit Greenland, the country is annually visited by about 60,000 tourists, of which two thirds come from Denmark.  

Tourism contributes 334 million kroner a year to the state's budget.

"I have a vision that Greenland will become the best tourist attraction in the Arctic region within a few years," noted Jens-Erik Kirkegaard from the Siumut social democratic party. 

Basic infrastructure is essential
He is ready to invest in hotel construction and airport expansion, so more companies with larger aircraft can land on the island.

"Good basic infrastructure is essential when it comes to expanding an industry such as tourism," Kirkegaard believes.

Olsvig from IA, on the other hand, doesn't think huge investments are necessary to improve the tourism industry in Greenland. She believes it is more about attracting the right people who are willing to pay more.

"What we need is restructuring and a change in priorities," Olsvig said