Arctic News Roundup: 16-22 November

Laugavegur street, in central Reykjavík [Photo by Mingming Shi]

by Mingming Shi

1) Icelandic news service Morgunblaðið featured a series of photographs of empty and (temporarily) closed shops in downtown Reykjavík, including those commonly popular with tourists on Laugavegur. This main shopping street in Reykjavík had been a major beneficiary of growing numbers of foreign visitors, (with figures surpassing two million per year, starting in 2016), as well as locals. However, many properties have had to close their doors this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and sharply fallen tourism numbers.

2) As the High North News revealed, the British Parliament has become the first to establish a task force group specialising in Greenland affairs. The purpose of the new assembly is to better promote the understanding of Greenland, and to continue the strengthening of the relationship between London and Nuuk. The announcement came at a time when UK concerns were raised about access to seafood from Greenland, especially for the United Kingdom’s trademark fish and chips, after the Brexit process is completed.

3) The HNN also reported on the downturn of the oil and gas sectors in Alaska during 2020, which was caused by the pandemic which intensified the reduction of global fossil fuel prices over the past five years. The outgoing Donald Trump government has been pushing for an eleventh-hour opening up of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, but that plan has faced serious opposition, including from the office of President-Elect Joe Biden. The coronavirus outbreak has also greatly damaged the US state’s tourism and hospitality industries this year.