The bus ride from Stabbursnes to Skaidi passes through two municipalities namely Kvalsund and Porsanger. At this time of year, autumn colours add vibrance to the landscape around the road.
Sunshine on a clear day adds to the beauty of nature in the area. Autumn leaves shine like radiant gold when the rays of the sun fall on them. Take a hand out of the window and you feel the cold air, indicating the onset of winter. Spending time in this place makes me in consonance with nature. It is a very effective medication against day to day stress and induces a deep meditative state of calmness.
I see a high potential in the area to develop nature-based tourism, but this area/attraction isn’t enough to attract tourists to choose this place solely based on this one factor (no wow factor/unlike the northern lights). It can surely be added to the list of attractions/experiences.
To add a bit about the demographics, economics and other statistics of the region I would give details about the two municipalities. The municipality of Porasanger has about 4000 inhabitants out of which about 2200 live in Lakselv, the capital town. The municipality is net negative in economic terms, and it is expected to see a decline in population over the next decade or two. The municipality of Kvalsund has about 1000 inhabitants. The municipality is surprisingly net positive in economic terms and is also expected to see a decline in population over the next decade or two.
Porsanger is the 3rd largest municipality by area out of the 422 municipalities in Norway.
With effect from 1st of January 2020, under the municipal reforms approved by the parliament of Norway in June 2017, the municipalities of Hammerfest and Kvalsund will be merged forming a new municipality of Hammerfest. This is done to improve resilience, disaster/impact response capability, reduce costs and streamline the administrative and other governmental processes. This decision was backdropped by an assessment done to identify the vulnerability of a community to disaster/mishap/calamity and then the ability to get back up (resilience assessment) known as the Risk and Vulnerability Analysis (ROS).
Municipalities around Norway were graded on a scale of 0 to 6 for the inherent risks/vulnerability to calamities in the region as well as their readiness to effectively respond/prevent the risk from causing any loss/damage. Kvalsund (1.6/6) and Porsanger/Porsángu/Porsanki (2.4/6) scored very low on the analysis.
Although the road doesn’t pass through it, yet an interesting fact is that the Kvalsund bridge was completed in 1977 and is the world’s northernmost suspension bridge.
The main sources of income/industries in the region are fisheries, military installations (the military airbase in Banak, salmon rivers. Tourism is on the rise and on the rise is industrial mining for copper.
Something that caught my attention was that a few months ago, the Norwegian authorities granted mining rights to a company called Nussir to extract copper from underneath a mountain plateau in the municipality of Kvalsund which was unwelcomed by the Sami people, local fishermen and environmental organisations. The chairperson of the mining company had assured that the mining will cause minimal impact and there have been strict regulations when it comes to the operations and procedures involved during the mining process (for example mining shall be strictly disallowed during the reindeer calving season in order not to disturb the reindeer and their natural habitat/life-cycle).
On 20th September, Norway’s first Sami language center in Lakselv, Porsanger turns 25 years old.
The region is quite similar to Lapland, Finland when it comes to the type of tourism that is growing but lacks behind Lapland in terms of market penetration and popularity/visibility. The stories here are told by nature if someone is willing to listen. Therefore, it is not for everyone and hence we find our target audience. I see tremendous tourism development opportunities here. A systematic plan has to be drawn up and an institution exclusively dedicated to market penetration and visibility/promotions in the international market has to be established (similar to that done by Rovaniemi, Kemi and other tourist destinations in Lapland).