Tourists crash funeral

Locals and sightseers clash when cruise ship passengers flood Honnigsvåg’s historical church—which is still in use


Photo: Harvey Barrison / Wikimedia
The church in Honningsvåg, the only pre-war building remaining, is a tourist beacon—but also a working church.

The Local

Cruise ship tourists crowded into a funeral in a Norwegian town in August, traipsing around the graveyard, and filming and taking pictures of mourners as they left the church.

“There were a lot of people and chaotic conditions,” Niels Westphal, warden of the church in the small town of Honningsvåg told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

“It’s unfortunate and a pity that when people leave church, they are photographed and filmed by tourists.”

The tourists came from a cruise ship carrying more than 6,000 people, more than double the entire population of the town.

Honningsvåg, which is near the northern tip of Norway, has long received large numbers of visitors, partly because it is one of the last stops of the Hurtigruten coastal ferry.

Between the ship’s arrival at 11:15 a.m. and its departure at 2:45 p.m., the town center is crowded with sightseers. Between 250,000 and 300,000 tourists visit the local Nordkapp municipality every year.

The church, as the only building in the city left standing after World War II, is considered a tourist attraction.

“It’s starting to be a big problem,” Westphal told

The incursion is the latest in a succession of offences, which have left some calling for moves to reduce the number of tourists coming to the Nordic country.

In 2014, a family of tourists walked through the garden of a family in Alta, photographing their sons doing acrobatic tricks on a trampoline.

The local government in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard co-funded a film to be shown on cruise trips asking tourists “to be cognizant to the… cultural impact the growing tourism may have on local communities.”

“Respect people’s privacy,” it says. “Keep a good distance from private houses and never glance or photograph through private windows.”

This article was originally published on The Local.

This article originally appeared in the September 21, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.