Closed doors on Sundays

Tromso city center – Photo by Tor Farstad

-We don’t live in the 50’s amymore.

Arne Kjelsnes decided to explore the city center of Tromso on a sunday. He found a group of people and asked them where he could find “Skippergata”, but they couldn’t help him much. It turned out they were visitors from New Zealand, Germany and England, Kjelsnes told the local newspaper Nordlys.

Arne Kjelsnes – Photo by Kai J Kristoffersen

Kjelsnes has a history from tourism and the hotelbusiness. He doesn’t understand how a city like Tromso can afford to close everything down on a day where tourists are active and so willing to shop. -Tromso welcomes everyone anytime, but then nothing is open, he tells Nordlys. -It’s all closed on the most beautiful Sunday. I met tourists everywhere with their credit cards ready for use, but there were nowhere to use them. I know Fylkesmannen (the county governor) can authorize exemptions from the main rule about everything being closed on sundays. With such exemptions, tourists can experience the city the way they expect and not meet closed doors wherever they turn. -Please Tromso, wake up, Kjelsnes begs. -We don’t live in the 50’s anymore.


Norwegian law

The Holiday Peace Act (Loven om Helligdagsfred) in Norway says that all shops bigger than 100 sqm has to be closed on Sundays. There can be given special exemptions in specific cases, but national authorities have mostly been very strict and not given proof to any policy loosening. Some Norwegian politicians have been in favour of a more liberal policy though, especially over the last decade. But the Holiday Peace Act will mostly likely stay intact in Norway in any foreseeable future. The political directions from Christian Democratic Party (Krf), Labour Party (Ap) and the Labour Union (LO) has over the years been very strong on this matter, and it still is.

Will make it better

Director of Tourism in Visit Tromso, Chris Hudson, is aware about the problem. He wants to give more life to the city on sundays, so everyone can enjoy what the city has to offer every day.

Chris Hudson

-We have lots of activities tourists can take part in, but we really want to create more action and life to the city center on Sundays. We are working closely with the City Center Association in order to apply for exemption from Fylkesmannen. The application was turned down last year, but this year I hope we can get it in order, Hudson says to newspaper Nordlys. It also has to be profitable for the shops to have open, but Tromso really need this to ensure the city is still attractive as a destination, even on Sundays. -Yes, I believe Tromso should keep the ambition to stay a world class destination. This means we need something for visitors to do in the city center on Sundays as well as weekdays, Hudson says.