Pioneers in the travel business

Pioneers in the travel business

Did you know that Hurtigruten was the first company to start selling commercials trips to Svalbard in 1896.

The first tourists

The first people who came to Svalbard as tourists were mainly rich Europeans who went up to hunt, and write books about their experiences. The founder of Hurtigruten, Richard With, started up the first route up here with the cathcy name "The Sportsman's Route". This went from Hammerfest to Svalbard, and back then the company's name was "Vesteraalen Dampskibselskab".

The Northernmost Hotel

That same year as the first tourists arrived with the "Sportsman's Route", they set up a prefabricated hotel in Longyearbyen. The house had room for 30 guests and was the world's northernmost hotel. Here tourists could get their post cards stamped, and they read the local newspaper "Spitsbergen Gazette", which they could find in both English, German and Norwegian. Two years later, the route was shut down and the hotel sold their properties to the coal mining company Arctic Coal. The buidling was used as a shop, before it was burned down by the Germans in 1943 during the war. Although the hotel was not operating for more than two years, it was an important historic event for the Norwegian coal history and tourist history.


The area where the hotel stood is still called "Hotellneset", and the airport is close by. Tourism is today one of the main industries on Svalbard, something that Hurtigruten Svalbard (former Spitsbergen Travel) made possible back in 1989. Another milestone occurred in 1995 when Svalbard Polar Hotel opened. It is stil going strong under the name Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, owned by Hurtigruten Svalbard. In 1992 Hurtigruten bought Spitsbergen Travel, and the history was finally brought back to the pioneers. Read more about Hurtigruten here.


Did you know?


HURTIGRUTEN SVALBARD AS, P.O. Box 548, N-9171 Longyearbyen
Telephone.: +47 79 02 61 00 | 951 251 579

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