Norwegian Minister of Trade, Industry and Fisheries Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservatives) sees major opportunities in Kirkenes town and Sør-Varanger municipality that form the end destination for both Hurtigruten and the E6 road.
Visiting Kirkenes Snow Hotel, king crab safari, a voyage with the port authorities’ icebreaker and a briefing about the new plans for Kirkenes port. The Minister, who is currently touring Finnmark, Troms and Nordland counties started his journey in Sør-Varanger yesterday, and he’s on a tight schedule.
When High North News spoke with him this morning, he had already been on a flight from Kirkenes to Tromsø and spent a night on the coastal steamer, Hurtigruten, between Tromsø and Harstad.
One of the purposes of the trips is, according to the ministry, to meet people who have good ideas, who develop many and exciting technologies, and who believe that the ocean is the future for Norway.
- Did you get any good ideas in Kirkenes?
The former Knowledge Minister laughs before telling us he has had great meetings with both the local tour operators as well as with those who develop the plans for the new Kirkenes port.
- First and foremost, however, yesterday gave me a taste of exactly how vast the business opportunities are, he says on the phone from Skånland municipality in Troms County.
Many new and exciting opportunities may open up for Kirkenes in the coming years. With a more efficient transportation system, the town can increase its significance for international and maritime operations in the Barents region.
Spirits were high in Kirkenes one month ago, following Norwegian and Finnish authorities agreeing that the most realistic route for an Arctic Railway would be between Rovniemi, Finland and Kirkenes, Norway.
A part of the plan is building a submarine tunnel with a separate tunnel for railway between Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia. That would allow for one long, connected railway route from the Arctic north to Central Europe, which may grow important and profitable both in terms of goods and tourists.
- This is all connected, Isaksen says when asked what he thinks about developments and about the importance of these Arctic transport corridors, including the Northern Sea Route.
- It is about the ice-free ports, both on Svalbard and in Kirkenes, and that there will be both a transport hub and a major port. The plans are extremely exciting if we succed in establishing both a tunnel and a railway, he says.
Isaksen says that he, both in his former job as Knowledge Minister and in his current one, experiences that knowledge of and focus on the Arctic are high.
When you read this, Røe Isaksen has probably covered both Grovfjord Mechanical, Astafjord salmon slaughter’s and possibly also the port of Narvik – another northern transport hub.
Tomorrow morning he will be opening the High North Dialogue conference in Bodø. The conference is organized by the High North Center at Nord University and this year’s theme is ‘Growth in the Arctic’.
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