Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 251

251 Arctic Yearbook 2014   suggests that the first settlers of Avanersuaq arrived some 5000 years ago after crossing Smith Sound from Canada. The direct ancestors of today’s Inuit belonged to the “Thule” culture and reached Avanersuaq soon after 1000 A.D. Qaanaaq was established in 1952 following the Danish authorities’ decision to move the local population, Inughuit (the great people) from their home village Uummannaq (Dundas) because of its close proximity to the American Thule Air Base. Greenland’s most northern town has a number of facilities including a hotel, a supermarket, a bakery, a post office, a tourist office, and a little, wellequipped hospital, as well as a museum, which is housed in the former home of the famous arctic explorer Knud Rasmussen, who in 1910 established the district’s first trading post called Thule (named after the Latin name of Ultima Thule). In Qaanaaq, like in the other peripheral districts, hunting activities are predominant and are substantial components of the informal economy and of the subsistence sector. The possibilities to diversify the activities, and thus, having an extra income, are rather limited in this peripheral and scarcely populated area. Besides some administrative jobs, there is a Handicrafts Centre, managed on a cooperative basis but administratively and financially supported by municipal authorities, with facilities for making handicrafts and a shop for displaying and selling. Some tourism activities are taking place in the area, thanks to the impressive landscape and its remoteness. This together with the mythical aura of the Ultima Thule, has great potential for tourism. The region is not always easy to reach and symbolizes one of the last frontiers in tourism. For this reason, tourism is a recurrent issue in the community discourse and is considered as “the” option for future development. The craft and souvenir shop in Qaanaaq, which is also the Tourism Office, has a variety of activities to offer to the tourists21, as well as accommodation in Qaanaaq and the surrounding settlements.22 The local hunters and fishermen are involved in the tourism activities. The revenues from tourism activities are considered important in the community, where the main source of income is huntingproducts, followed by tourism.23 However, the number of tourists remain very small. In the 1990s larger groups of tourists (10–16) arrived whereas today, it is mostly individual travellers or smaller groups (2–4) that land in Qaanaaq. Reasons for this trend are among others, more expensive air tickets that were introduced after the building of the airport24 in 2002. So far, apart from some seasonal tourism activities, involving a small fraction of the local population, only a little tourism development has taken place. Findings Generally, the interviewees25 agree that it is a good income to have tourists especially now, that the ice is becoming thinner which is making hunting places difficult to reach. Some of them would like to work mainly as guides, with hunting as a side-activity. However, they admit that they do not have as many sled-dog tourists as anticipated, but on the other hand they recognize that the profits stay in the community.26 Tourism, Human Capital & Regional Development in Three Communities in Greenland