Airport’s name change draws flak

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Tourism boosters keen on attracting more visitors to northern Norway pulled off a stunt over the weekend that changed the name of the airport at Bardufoss to “Snowman International Airport.” A local patriot is furious, calling the name change “tasteless” and “ridiculous.”

William Engseth, a former government minister and top athletics boss, blasted the airport name change and its new inflated Snowman mascot set up outside the arrivals hall. “An English-speaking snowman with a top hat and carrot nose is just ridiculous, even if a travel company with the same name thinks it can profit on the tastelessness,” Engseth wrote in an angry commentary in Tromsø-based newspaper Nordlys.

Engseth, noting the history of the Bardufoss airport, said it played a key role during World War II and has been a landmark for soldiers on winter training. He called the airport’s sudden re-naming on Saturday, without debate, “nearly heathen.”

Officials from tourism firm Visit Snowman and Omega Holidays of Great Britain nonetheless managed to attract a current government minister, Rigmor Aasrud, to perform the symbolic name change and declare that the snowman is Norwegian. Ceremonies took place in front of the latest planeload of British tourists who have been flying up to northern Norway for quick trips, in the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights.

Japanese tourists also have been keen on taking “Northern Lights tours” in recent years, but last week’s charter flights from Japan failed to arrive and others have been cancelled following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that recently struck Japan.

Views and News staff