The Green Land where the sun does not set and the sky shines with electric hues
Greenland is not an obvious destination for the Meetings Industry. But a trip to this island of northern lights, icebergs and small cold towns can be a life experience.
To the north of Iceland there is a mysterious island where the sun shines at midnight and the aurora borealis paints the sky with electric colours during the winter's darkness. Greenland is the least densely populated country in the world and the largest island (Australia is considered a continental mass) of the planet, and is largely covered by a blanket of Arctic ice that in certain parts is more than 100,000 years old. A visit to this deserted region, where silence reigns and the air is so pure that you can observe the landscape in the distance with unparalleled clarity, is one of the highlights of any trip to the top of the world.
The Greenland coast features occasional small towns with difficult names, of repeated consonants. 5,000 years ago, a wave of people began to consecutively migrate to the island. These Inuits originated in Canada, and share striking similarities with the Eskimos, namely the language, which is divided into several dialects. Meanwhile, the region was invaded by other Nordic peoples, especially Icelanders and Norwegians, but the colonies they founded in the Middle Ages lasted shortly. These hard times are one of the inspirations for the famous Sagas of the Icelanders, that tell great histories of Nordic medieval towns, wars, lives and marriages. These stories, an oral tradition that was later transcribed, claim that the name of this island, "Green Land", was chosen by one of its pioneer explorers, Viking Erik the Red, in a kind of medieval marketing strategy, aiming to attract more settlers for the area. Greenland is currently an autonomous region, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but its territory belongs to North America. It is an island that floats between two Continents.
A congress overlooking the icebergs
The capital, Nuuk, is a growing city with modern buildings. It does not, however, escape the drama of the frozen landscapes that surround it, even though it houses the largest concentration of population in Greenland. It boasts of the largest venue for events on the island, the Hans Egede Hotel, which can host up to 350 people, including accommodation and catering. For smaller meetings there is the Katuaq - Greenland's Culture House, Inuk Hostels and the Seamen's Home Nuuk Hotel.
Visiting Greenland is not for everyone. Prices are high and the weather, especially in winter, with average temperatures of -20 degrees celsius in certain areas, is a strong deterrent. In addition, the island has a very limited road system and therefore depends on boats, helicopters and airplanes to connect the different zones of the country to each other. In cities like Ittoqqortoormiit the isolation is enormous, and this adds to this small set of coloured houses an aura of mystery and curiosity. In this remote area, dog sled tours take tourists, during the summer, to the frozen landscapes, with towering fjords and pristine wildlife, including seals and polar bears. Further north, the city of Qaanaaq was created by the Americans, to accommodate the displaced population of several villages, after the decision to build an air base at the old village. Here the sun is in the sky for 24 hours during summer, a disconcerting experience for those who are not accustomed. In winter, the spectacular aurora borealis stars in the dark of the Arctic, a phenomenon that is also caused by the sun and that can be seen throughout the island. Also in this place, tourists have the opportunity to get to know the locals better and venture into the icy nature.
In Ilulissat the icebergs sail in the sea, in plain sight and in the shadow of the enormous glacier from where they departed, sometimes hastily. Actually, the block of ice that sank the Titanic was probably born in this city. Ilulissat was chosen as a site for the opening of the Arctic Hotel, one of the best in the country, in the front line of the region's investment in the Meetings Industry sector. With 4 stars and a conference centre with a capacity for 120 people, the space has a privileged view of the icebergs, a landscape that no lecturer will surely forget.
In Sisimiut, right inside the Arctic polar circle, Sisimiut Hotel manages to accommodate 250 people.
Visit Greenland is the island's tourism entity. They explained Event Point that the Meetings Industry in the region is still "small-scale, limited primarily to some cities, based on existing resources in conference centres." Despite this, Greenland will host a tourism conference in September, bringing together players from that area, the Vestnorden Travel Mart, which is distributed by several of these venues.
"Greenland is certainly one of the least known destinations in terms of MICE, but we definitely have all the adventure, cultural exploration and nature-based experiences any conference-goer would be interested in to break free from work-mode," the agency said.
Although the region is more focused on leisure tourism, MICE has gained some importance at Greenland scale. Events such as Future Greenland, to tighten relations between foreign investors and local entrepreneurs begin to tinker with the country's business ecosystem.
Photos by Rebecca Gustafsson - Visit Greenland
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