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April 15, 1999
(Tourism, Culture and Recreation)

Minister visiting Iceland and Norway to formalize details for Vikings! 1000 Years

Charles Furey, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Recreation, is in Reykjavik, Iceland and Oslo, Norway from April 11 - 16 to negotiate details with the Icelandic and Norwegian organizations for the Vikings! 1000 Years celebrations. These celebrations are set to take place in 2000 and 2001 in Newfoundland and Labrador with a special focus on the Great Northern Peninsula. Traveling with Minister Furey are Fred Russell, Executive Director of the Viking Trail Tourism Association (VTTA), Randy Letto, Marketing Manager for the Viking Trail Tourism Association, and Captain Allan Rowsell of the Canadian Coast Guard.

Minister Furey points out that while some of the key events of Soiree '99 are yet to begin, the department and its partners are working hard to finalize the calender of events for the Vikings! 1000 Years. "Next year we will be celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the Vikings landing at L'Anse aux Meadows on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula. Some of the possible highlights include events such as: the landing of the Islendingur, a replica Viking ship, the creation of a Viking village with over 100 re-enactors, to be known as the Grand Encampment; a flotilla of Viking ships from around the world sailing from the Wonderstrands on the south coast of Labrador to L'Anse aux Meadows; New Year's Eve '99: Festival of First Light in North America. The enthusiastic response from our Nordic friends clearly defines the international significance of these celebrations and the Viking story and ensures the success of this world-class event," says Mr. Furey.

In Iceland, Minister Furey was hosted by Halldor Blondal, Minister of Tourism and Communications. One of the highlights of the trip were discussions surrounding the Islendingur's sail from Iceland to L'Anse aux Meadows next year to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Vikings arrival in North America. The delegation also met with members of the Icelandic Millennium Committee to share plans for the year 2000 and they agreed to look at possibilities of developing joint initiatives to celebrate the millennium, particularly with a view to enhancing the Viking celebrations. Minister Furey also had the opportunity to speak with key Icelandic scholars about Viking history and to view the original Viking Sagas, the written record of the Vikings' travel which were returned to Iceland from the Danish Government in 1973.

While in Oslo, Minister Furey and the delegation participated in meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the Norway 2000 Millennium Group, and corporations that are currently conducting business in Newfoundland and Labrador and who may become funding partners in the Vikings! 1000 Years celebrations. The VTTA has examined opportunities for product development by visiting existing Viking museums and attractions.

Minister Furey also had the opportunity to visit the world-renowned author and expeditionist, Dr. Helge Ingstad, who along with his wife Anna Stine discovered the only authenticated Viking Site in North America. "I was honoured and happy to visit with Dr. Ingstad and his daughter Benedicte," says Furey. Dr. Ingstad, who is in good health and continues to write on a daily basis, will be celebrating his 100th birthday this year.

Fred Russell says he is very pleased with the outcome of the trip thus far. "The interest and commitment shown to the Vikings! 1000 Years project from the Icelandic and Norwegian governments and organizations that we have met with have been outstanding," says Russell. "This has already been a tremendously successful trip from our organization's point of view. We have secured strong interest for participation in the Grand Encampment and the flotilla. We have also gathered meaningful insight on how businesses involved in the VTTA can capitalize on the Viking theme."

Media contact: Tara Laing, (709) 729-0928.

1999 04 15 3:25 p.m.

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