According to a new TØI report on foreign tourists visiting Norway, almost 50 percent state that experiencing nature, scenery and beautiful landscapes are the most important reason for visiting Norway. 2 out of 3 support a tourist tax earmarked for the development and maintenance of pathways, hiking trails, and establishing signs.
Around 50 percent emphasize the importance of being able to get assistance in emergencies and access to shelters / heating rooms, while waste management and toilet facilities are somewhat less important. Facilities at viewpoints or in the form of picnic areas and parking is important for 1 in 3.
Tourists visit Norway for its nature, not its culture
42 per cent of foreign tourists state that nature experiences and beautiful landscapes are the most important reason for traveling to Norway. Only 7 percent come for cultural experiences alone. 42 per cent comes for nature and culture experiences combined, while 9 per cent stated neither nature-based nor culture-based experiences as the main reason for traveling to Norway.
The main survey includes interviews with 2,530 foreign tourists visiting Norway the summer of 2018 departing from Gardermoen and Flesland, and from Color Line's ferry terminals in Oslo (Kiel), Larvik (Hirtshals) and Kristiansand (Hirtshals). In addition, a follow-up survey was conducted by email, where 345 respondents answered an electronic form via email.
What activities are popular, for whom?
Experiencing landscapes, easy walks, hiking in mountain and forest terrain, fjord sightseeing, and nature photography are the most common tourist activities. Trips on foot, both in mountain and forest terrain, but also trips in coastal landscapes and along rivers, lakes and canals are popular too. According to the email survey 90 percent had made some form of hiking, and as many as 3 out of 4 had gone hiking on 1-4 hours hikes.
A typical feature of summer tourism in Norway is to travel around, and about half of the respondents had been on a round trip in Norway (minimum 3-night stayover). The average duration of a visit to Norway is 11 days, and for 2 out of 3 the journey lasts for 8 days or more.
There is some variation between nationalities and what types of activities they want to participate in. Tourists from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland / Austria and Denmark have a higher preference for nature-based experiences and rural areas than most other visitors.
Gender variation is minor, but older age groups (+59) tend to participate less than other age groups in physically demanding activities such as mountain hiking, climbing, kayaking and mountain biking - and are less active in general. Tourists traveling with children have a higher participation rate in all types of activities, except sightseeing experiences, nature photography and bird watching than tourists traveling with adults only.
Facilitation and accessibility measures, as well as direction/signs are considered to be the most important services. Information about risk and safety, parking opportunities and in depth info about activities count as well. Only 1 in 6 considers guided services to be important or very important to them. This is negative in terms of business development. At the same time, facilities with commercial potential, such as information centers with kiosk goods and / or sales and rental of equipment, are considered important or very important to 30 per cent.
The BIOTOUR project is funded by the Research Council of Norway and is a collaboration with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), which has been the project leader.