Department of Culture and Learning


 What can Greenland learn from Iceland’s experience with tourism?

What can Greenland learn from Iceland’s experience with tourism?

AAU enters in collaboration with Icelandic and Greenlandic partners in order to systematize and draw on Iceland’s experience with tourism in responding to current and future tourism challenges in Greenland.

Project description

Greenland is at a transitional moment in its tourism development. Between global travel trends and anticipated major expansion of transportation connectivity, the trajectory of tourism growth in Greenland is clear. However, the primary part of the expansion curve remains in the future. This combination marks the critical opportunity to prepare for tourism’s expansion, ensuring that tourists and their benefits can be received sustainably and within the Greenland’s capacities.  

Through a number of workshops in Greenland, Greenlandic project partners will share with Icelandic partners the past, current, and anticipated future state of national-level action (planning, policy, investment, infrastructure, communications, research and monitoring, etc.) related to tourism planning, development, and management.

Together, the Icelandic and Greenlandic partners will collaborate to identify the highest priority needs for national-level sustainable tourism planning and management and the elements of Iceland’s tourism management systems that could have the greatest potential to address Greenland’s needs.


Since 2014, tourism to Greenland has increased by more than 33%. More importantly, peak tourist numbers during the summer months have increased by nearly 50% during the same period. While the absolute numbers of tourists visiting Greenland are still modest, the relative impact they have can be dramatic. During the peak of the summer season, the island’s population increases by approximately one-third. This level of increased pressure on the infrastructural, economic, environmental, service, and social systems of Greenland threatens to overwhelm Greenland’s capacity to sustain the benefits of tourism without suffering major systemic failure – failure that could ruin Greenland’s environment, compromise its economy, and alienate its population.

Greenland’s tourism trends and challenges in many ways mirror those experienced in Iceland since the rapid expansion of its tourism economy. Since 2010, the number of tourists visiting Iceland has grown by nearly 500% to well over two million. During the peak summer months, one in every four people in Iceland is a tourist. While tourism is largely responsible to reversing the effects of the 2008 economic crisis in Iceland, it has placed incredible strain on Icelandic society, environments, and infrastructure.


► Project coordinator Carina Ren


Funded by: NATA (North Atlantic Tourism Association)
Grant size: DKK 430.570
Project period: 1 April 2019 → 1 April 2020

Photo credit/attribution: "Tourists at Haifoss" by James E. Petts is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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