In the Arctic circle around Tromsø, day plans will follow a somewhat different pattern: outdoor activities are scheduled in the morning hours, when the sun has a dawning peek over the horizon, the moon will rise as soon as noontime. Afternoons are best for meetings; Northern Lights highlight the Arctic Experience at night.
orthern Lights or Midnight Sun? Participants at the fam-trip organized by Visit Tromsø had made up their minds: suitcases packed with warm winter clothing, they took off in Frankfurt last December directly to the Arctic Circle to learn more about what this city surrounded by fjords at the polar sea had to offer for meetings and incentives. However, when the event planners landed at Tromsø Airport, they hadn't a chance to get a glimpse of the centuries-old wooden houses in the historic part of town which is considered the cultural center northerly of the Arctic Circle. Instead, they were advised to don their padded pants and jackets while still at the airport.
This was already the first lesson for wintertime business trips beyond the 70th parallel north, because day schedules here have their very own rules: outdoor incentives should be planned in the few daylight hours before noon; business can be done later. But most people have almost no problems getting used to the nighttime mode, because Tromsø owing to the Gulf Stream is blessed by milder climate than Alaska and Siberia on the same parallel. It's coldest here in January and February with average temperatures at -4 degrees Celsius. And so everybody considers it totally normal to walk around in warm boots and thermosuits. A positive sideeffect of these long nights is the time-honored custom of sitting round fires and telling stories: be they reindeer breeders or mushers, hosts or guides – they all have their history and they all have stories to tell. The hosts radiate an impressive sense of serenity, which helps their guests settle in quickly and attunes them to this very unique Arctic adventure.
The zone in which to see the Northern Lights forms an oval around the magnetic North Pole with Tromsø at its center. A good vantage point is the little village of Sommarøy, just about 30 minutes away by car. The sparkling greenish light bands cast their spell on all viewers, without any exception. Said Trude Pettersen, convention manager with Visit Tromsø: "That's why these months are particularly popular with tourists in spite of the dark." While nearby independent operations such as the Arctic Hotel located directly on the Norwegian Sea provide good facilities for small and medium-sized meetings and seminars, international hotel groups to a large extent dominate the destination: there are altogether more than 2,600 hotel rooms in downtown Tromsø. This compact setting saves time in putting together day schedules and is easy on logistics as well. The hotels in this city certainly also compete against each other, but Trude Pettersen pointed out that they cooperate well: "All attendees stand to benefit if, for example, traffic on the road between the Scandic and Radisson Blu hotels comes to a full stop because a red carpet has been rolled out for an event." Restaurant kitchens are expert in preparing seafood such as codfish, coley, halibut and haddock, menu cards also feature caribou, mutton and elk from the forests and mountains.
Sommarøy: The village is a good vantage point to see the Northern lights. PHOTO: SOMMEROY
Rustic events staged in Sámi camps, sleeping on fur beds in tents or huts as well as exciting adventures in the snow and ice are real highlights for any business event. Depending upon budget and program, the range of activities for social programs ranges from walking tours through town all the way to whale-watching safaris at sea, ice climbing or fjord cruises. The Polaria Museum, an architectural highlight, gives visitors throughout all seasons a multimedia insight into nature and history as well as the landbound and maritime fauna. Other groups may join in some traditional caribou herding, explore the untouched snow-covered landscape in sleds drawn by Alaskan huskies or pushing physical limits in wild Arctic Drives with maneuverable quads or ATVs.
Providers such as Villmarkssenter with their 300 sled dogs have their own meeting facilities apart from the hotels. "We organize very authentic meetings for conference groups with team-building activities and dinner", said MICE-coordinator Bente Ellison while serving a spicy cod-fish soup flavored with pimento. "Anything is possible, the sky's the limit", she emphasized. Event planners may book entire all-inclusive programs, particular activities or package arrangements. "Packages including catering, snacks and conference are usually more favorably priced than bed-and-breakfast arrangements", said Trude Pettersen. Her recommendation: it's best to address price inquiries directly to Visit Tromsø.
“IN TROMSØ THE ARCTIC ADVENTURE BEGINS!”
tw: Why should meeting planners book conference facilities and incentives in and around Tromsø? Trude Pettersen: Tromsø is the natural meeting point in the Arctic. The city will be able to meet the organizer's requirements and expectations to host all kinds of international events. Despite the fact that we are a small city in a global perspective, If you add the wilderness that is so closely linked to the city center, you get the three words ‘Arctic Urban Wilderness’ –that's us. And Tromsø consists of inhabitants from more than 130 countries. In addition to all the international guests that visit us, this gives the city an urban pulse. We would say that this urban pulse cannot be compared to any other city in the northern part of Scandinavia! In Tromsø the arctic adventure begins!
What are the available maximum capacities in hotels for MICE-groups? There are more than 2,600 hotel rooms in downtown Tromsø within walking distance so meeting in Tromsø saves time and simplifies logistics. Big budgets or small budgets, Tromsø`s venues, accommodation and activities will cater to suit your needs.
How can Tromsø best be reached from Europe? Traveling to Tromsø is no problem! There are several direct flights daily between Oslo and Tromsø, and twice a week from London and Frankfurt. Tromsø has also direct flights to/from Stockholm.
Kell Ove Hveding emphasized that inspiring pre & post conference options can be found all year round: "You can arrange all kinds of programs for your attendees before and after events to round off your conference package. Tromsø is the perfect place to head for other destinations in northern Norway." The manager of the Arctic Hotel in Sommarøy modestly calls himself "host", which quite accurately describes how he feels his role. At nightfall, they don't exactly roll up the sidewalks in Tromsø, but nevertheless this is certainly not a destination for party goers. Travel guide Meike Schindler, event manager with the RS agency in Hamburg, can accurately define target groups for this Arctic experience: "This is best suited for people who have already seen a lot and who can appreciate the simple, genuine things in life!" PETRA MEWES