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Greenland’s New ‘Green Tax’ Paves the Way for Sustainable Tourism

Greenland’s tourism sector recently lobbied for and successfully implemented a “green tax” to promote sustainable tourism practices and protect their environment. 


Tourism in Greenland has doubled since 2016, bringing significant economic benefits for local communities but also raising concerns about environmental impact. The influx of tourists, particularly large cruise ships venturing into remote areas, raises concerns about ecosystem disruption, increased waste generation, and strain on existing infrastructure. 


In response to these challenges, Greenland’s tourism sector collaborated with citizens and the Greenlandic Tourist Board to develop and implement the green tax. This combines two key components: an increased passenger tax and additional charges for specific environmental impacts. 


The passenger tax raises 50 DDK (£5.73) per person on top of existing tax. Moreover, specific charges target the potential environmental impact of specific activities. As a result, cruise ships docking in remote areas face additional fees, and activities with a higher potential to disrupt the environment may cause further charges. 


The green tax empowers communities and prioritises conservation. Instead of directing the collected revenue solely to the government, it remains within the regions from which it originates. This allows local communities to participate in deciding how the tax revenue will be spent, which fosters a sense of ownership and accountability, ensuring the funds address their specific needs and priorities. 


The tax revenue can be used for various purposes. It can upgrade infrastructure by improving waste management systems, developing cleaner energy sources for harbours, and building necessary facilities to accommodate tourists. 


Resources can be invested in educating both local communities and tourists about responsible tourism practices, which promotes sustainable behaviour. Funds can also be directed towards environmental protection initiatives, conservation projects, and research efforts to understand and address the challenges posed by climate change and tourism pressure on the ecosystem. 


Greenland is navigating uncharted waters with this innovation. Balancing economic benefits with effective environmental protection requires careful monitoring and evaluation of the tax’s impact. Additionally, ensuring transparency and equitable distribution of funds within communities is important to maintain trust and support for the initiative. 


This initiative stands as an example of the tourism industry taking ownership of its environmental responsibility. By prioritising sustainable and responsible tourism practices, Greenland is paving the way for a future where tourism can coexist with environmental protection. 


Edited By: Josh Reidelbach

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