If there’s one thing Americans know about Greenland, it’s this: The island is not for sale, despite President Trump’s best efforts.
But tour operators, flight-booking apps and the country’s own tourism board say search traffic over the past couple of weeks indicates the traveling public has more questions about the destination, a self-governing country that is part of the kingdom of Denmark.
After the Danish prime minister rebuffed the idea of a sale, Trump called off a planned trip to Denmark. But Trump’s idea wasn’t a new one: The Truman administration tried to buy the island from Denmark for $100 million in gold in 1946. Then, as now, the offer did not go over well.
Searches for Greenland on Hopper, an airfare prediction and flight booking app, spiked 337 percent starting Aug. 15, when news of U.S. interest in the island broke. Searches continued to climb through last week, hitting a peak Thursday, according to the company.
“However, overall search demand remains significantly higher than normal through Aug. 24,” Hopper economist Hayley Berg said in an email.
At Intrepid Travel, which just introduced its first land-based expedition tour of the country, Web traffic to its Greenland pages soared 237 percent the weekend of Aug. 17.
The country’s official tourism site, VisitGreenland.com, recorded about 10 times as much traffic as usual that weekend, though it’s not clear yet whether the interest will translate to bookings. Officials have since updated the site to add a section on “American interest in Greenland.”
And Greenland has an interest in America. About 8,000 U.S. citizens visit each year, and, according to a representative, North America is a “priority market” for the country of 56,000.
“Visit Greenland wants to turn the global attention toward Greenland to something positive, as our country is a unique adventure-tourism destination with a magnificent nature scenery, friendly people and a culture that goes far back in history,” spokeswoman Idrissia Thestrup said in an email.
Here are some details travelers should keep in mind if Greenland is moving up on their bucket list:
You can’t get there from here directly
There are no direct flights from the United States to Greenland; travelers must go to Iceland or Denmark and then connect. According to Hopper, a “good deal price” from the States to Greenland, with connections, costs between $1,000 and $2,000. Additionally, some cruise ships have itineraries that include Greenland.
Not a place for road trips
The country’s towns and communities aren’t connected by a network of roads, Thestrup said, so travelers should be prepared to get around by plane, helicopter, boat or, in the winter, dogsleds or snowmobiles. Greenland is the largest island in the world that isn’t also a continent, so that’s a lot of ground to cover.
Looking for a warm getaway? Look elsewhere.
Located northeast of Canada, Greenland sits between the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans. Not exactly balmy! According to Visit Greenland, even in the middle of summer, the mean temperature stays below 50 degrees in most of the country. Between November and April, expect temperatures below freezing. Ice is abundant but not ubiquitous, covering nearly 80 percent of the island — and it has been melting at an alarming rate.
Still, watch out for mosquitoes
In summer, when the sun doesn’t set completely, giant mosquitoes can swarm. Visit Greenland offers tips on how to cope with the pests during the midnight-sun periods, including: dousing yourself with juice from Labrador tea leaves, going out in the fog, staying near the sea, wearing a mosquito net and spending time near sheep.
Choose from three UNESCO World Heritage sites
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has named three World Heritage sites around Greenland: Ilulissat Icefjord on the west coast, a huge collection of icebergs; Kujataa, an agricultural settlement in the south with both Norse and Inuit history; and Aasivisuit-Nipisat, Inuit hunting grounds in the central part of west Greenland.