Russia-Norway border traffic follows ruble downward

Storskog border check-point. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
Storskog border check-point. (Thomas Nilsen/Barents Observer)
After years of booming border traffic, October saw a slide in people crossing the Russian-Norwegian border.

Shopping tourism is less attractive as ruble hits all time low on Friday.

The ruble had another deep-dive Friday morning and was traded at 48,5 against the dollar and historical record low at 60 against the Euro at the financial markets in Moscow.

One Norwegian krone costs 6,9 rubles Friday at lunch time, nearly 4 percent weaker than on Thursday.

A weaker ruble means more expensive shopping for people driving from Russia’s Kola Peninsula to Norway’s northeastern border town of Kirkenes.

After a year-by-year increase of around 30 percent annually in border traffic since 2009, October this year shows a decrease in border crossings.

“We had 25,839 border crossings over Storskog. That is down 5,2 percent compared with October last year,” says Stein Hansen, Head of the immigration control at Norway’s only check-point to Russia.

Could be worse

The decrease would have been even more dramatic, wasn’t it for the local border traffic regime introduced two years ago for people living in a 30 kilometer distance from the border. Under the regime, locals in Kirkenes, Nikel and Zapolyarny can visit each other without holding a visa.

“3,477 of the crossings were Norwegians while 2,284 were Russians traveling under the local border traffic regime,” says Stein Hansen.

Despite the downslide in October, traffic over Russia’s border to Norway in the north is up 5,3 percent the ten first months this year compared with same period last year.

Border crossings between Russia and Finland are down 9 percent from January to October compared with 2013, reports the Finnish Border Guards

At Raja-Jooseppi, Finland’s northernmost border check-point to Russia, traffic was down 9,8 percent in October. At Salla, the main check-point for travelers between Murmansk and Rovaniemi, traffic was down 10,8 percent.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  The environmental and social impacts of Arctic tourism, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Nature tourism in North Finland drawing Chinese tourists, Yle News

Greenland:  Air Greenland plans another summer of Iqaluit-Nuuk flights, CBC News

Iceland:  Flights to Iceland to start next March from Edmonton, Canada, CBC News

Norway: Air route links Norway, Sweden and Finland in Arctic, Barents Observer

Russia:  Barents Region’s only east-west flight could be grounded in late October, Barents Observer

Sweden:  Sweden’s ex-Finance Minister hired to report on Finnish economy, Radio Sweden

United States: World oil price decline creates multibillion-dollar budget risk for Alaska, Alaska Dispatch

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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