Last updated 14 September 2023

The number of overnight stays in public accommodation in Longyearbyen in the course of a year gives an indication of the influx of tourists and other visitors to Longyearbyen and its vicinity. There will also be a link between the number of overnight stays and the scale of sightseeing excursions, organized trips and non-organized outdoor recreation using Longyearbyen as the base.

Overnight stays in Longyearbyen
Photo: Stein Ø. Nilsen / Norwegian Polar Institute

What is being monitored?


Number of overnight stays

The statistics for overnight stays in Longyearbyen during the period 1995-2018 show a marked increase throughout virtually the entire period, with the exception of the period 2008-2012. Since then, there has been a significant increase every year. The number of overnight stays reached a record 166,801 guest days in 2019. The largest increase is linked to the holiday and leisure market. The figures for overnight stays during 2020 and 2021 are inevitably affected by the measures relating to the coronavirus pandemic which were introduced in March 2020. These measures resulted in a substantial fall in the number of overnight stays in Longyearbyen and we have to go back 20 years to find corresponding figures at the same level as in 2020 and 2021. The numbers for 2022 are slightly lower than in the previous normal year of 2019.
(Cite these data: Visit Svalbard (2023). Number of overnight stays in public accommodation. Environmental monitoring of Svalbard and Jan Mayen (MOSJ). URL: http://mosj.no/en/influence/traffic/overnight-stays-longyearbyen.html)

Details on these data

Last updated14 September 2023
Update intervalYearly
Next updateMay 2024
Commissioning organizationGovernor of Svalbard
Executive organizationVisit Svalbard AS
Contact personsThomas Haavik

Method

Hotels and other places that offer accommodation must report the number of overnight stays and the visitor’s reason for visiting Svalbard. They report to Visit Svalbard every year. The campsite in Longyearbyen is not included.

Quality

Hotels etc. have to assure the quality of the data they collect. They report to Visit Svalbard, which then reports to the Governor of Svalbard.

Status and trend

The statistics for the total number of overnight stays in Longyearbyen in 1995–2022 shows stepwise strong rises during the periodes from 1995 to 1997, from 1999 to 2001, and from 2012 to 2017.

In the period 2003-2008, there was a smoothly rise, and a preliminary peak in 2008 presents 92,000 overnight stays. After a decrease the following 4 years, a substantial increase started in 2013. This trend has continued, and in 2019 there were record high 166,801 overnight stays in total. In the period 2003-2008, there was a smoothly rise, and a preliminary peak in 2008 presents 92,000 overnight stays. After a decrease the following 4 years, a substantial increase started in 2013. This trend has continued, and in 2019 there were record high 166,801 overnight stays in total. The low numbers in 2020 and 2021 are due to the corona pandemic. And the numbers in 2022 are slightly lower than in the previous normal year of 2019.

The largest increase in numbers of overnight stays is linked to the holiday and leisure market. In this segment, the number of overnight stays has more than doubled during the past six years, from 65,358 in 2013 to 134,394 in 2022. The number of people attending courses/conferences increased seven-fold through to 2018 compared with 1995, with a peak year in 2017. However, this number fell by 68% from 2018 to 2022. Since 2005, numbers of overnight stays associated with business trips have gradually decreased, with an exception in 2018 where there was a lot of building activities in Lonyearbyen.  In 2022 there was only 1694 overnight stays associated with business trips, which is the lowest number registered since 1995 (if we disregard the numbers from 2020 (corona pandemic)).

The measures linked to the coronavirus pandemic substantially reduced the number of overnight stays from March 2020 onwards. For a while, virtually no visitors came to Svalbard. The majority of overnight stays which did take place this year occurred in January and February before the pandemic struck, as well as during a period from early June 2020 through much of the summer. Nevertheless, the figures for overnight stays were also low during this period due to the cancellation of many trips. The overall percentage decrease from 2019 to 2020 was 59%. In terms of percentages, the decrease was greatest amongst travellers in the course/conference segments and professional travellers, which saw decreases of 78% and 88% respectively. Nevertheless, the largest decrease occurred in the holiday and leisure segment, which recorded more than 80,000 fewer overnight guests than the previous year.

Causal factors

Many factors will influence the number of guest days in Longyearbyen. The single most important factor is considered the number of flights between the mainland and Longyearbyen. The expansion of accommodation in Longyearbyen also had a great deal to say, but marketing, excursion offers and the economic situation for firms and private customers have also affected the trend. The efforts of the tourism industry in Svalbard to promote the Polar night have borne fruit in the form of more guests and a higher occupancy rate at this time of year.

In 2013, the airliner Norwegian, resumed non-stop flights from Oslo, which have a great deal to say for the number of overnight stays. The financial crisis in Europe in 2008–2009 probably had a significant effect on the holiday and leisure category. This crisis ended, and visitors again spend resources on travels and experiences.

For courses and conferences, there was a marked decline in the number of overnight stays in 2019 and following years. The costs of flights and accomodation in Longyearbyen may have contributed to this.

As regards journeys connected with work and business, the financial situation for firms has had some effect, but also the scale of construction and commercial activities in Longyearbyen. Major new developments in the last 15–20 years had some effect since quite a few of the construction workers also stayed at hotels. Work due to landslides and relocation and establishment of new houses have had an impact in recent years.

The number of hotel beds has risen considerably in recent years, due to the opening of several new hotels.

Consequences

The number of overnight stays in Longyearbyen is obviously decisive for the firms offering overnight accommodation, but it also has spin-off benefits for the rest of the business community:

  • shops of all types
  • operators who sell excursions of varying duration
  • transport industry
  • hospitality industry
  • museums
  • galleries
  • and so on

Depending on what the overnight guests do, they may have an effect on the natural environment. Everyone who visits Svalbard arrives by plane or ship. More traffic will mean higher discharges of greenhouse gases.

About the monitoring

The number of overnight stays in Longyearbyen gives an indication of the expected effect on the environment and cultural heritage sites in Longyearbyen and its close vicinity, and it is therefore essential to monitor it.

Together with monitoring series on the actual effects of activities, it is possible to establish the causes of human effects on the environment in Longyearbyen and its close vicinity.

Places and areas

Relations to other monitoring

Monitoring programme

  • None

International environmental agreements

  • None

Voluntary international cooperation

  • None

Related monitoring

  • None

Further reading

Links