Norsk Reiseliv/Norwegian Tourism Partners is an independent industry association that was established in 2004. The purpose of the association is to strengthen the influence of the tourism industry and its position as a leading industry and create the basis so that Norway has a larger share of the international growth in tourism. Through our work, we will be the voice of tourism for the political environment, bureaucracy, media and society as well provide an active premise for sustainable development of Norway as a destination. We will signal diversity through our member companies.
The members of Norks Reiseliv represent approximately 90 percent of the international tourism marketing and consist of the 15 largest tourism companies, destination and regional companies in Norway with more than 40,000 employees. Our member companies have operations all over Norway.
Norsk Reiseliv is organised as an association, with member meetings as the decision-making body, while the board is responsible for the administrative side. The highest authority is the annual meeting.
Norsk Reiseliv aims to:
- Ensure sustainable growth in the tourism.
- Ensure the means for increased competitiveness in line with the other growth industries.
- Increase the attractiveness and demand for Norway as a destination.
- Increase Norwegian value creation and employment by facilitating profitable tourism throughout the year.
Our goal is be the most important premise setter in tourism by prioritising the work for sustainable tourism and working for a strengthening of targeted marketing communication and distribution of Norway as a destination. This will be done by working for increased resources for strengthening the attraction value and demand of Norway as a year-round destination, developing and coordinating industry-oriented tourism research, as well as for better adaptation of technology development and digitisation in the tourism industry.
Norsk Reiseliv must not compete with public funding agencies, regional and destination companies within profiling, brand-building and operational marketing tasks. We must not operate as an employer organisation.
Tourism in Norway
Tourism in Norway is an important contributor to maintaining settlement, local value creation and an industry that creates jobs all over the country with significant local increases in taxable revenue and the integration of employees with different ethnic and social backgrounds.
Tourism has traditionally to a small extent been an integral part of the government’s industrial policy, where the framework conditions and the public instruments are not well adapted to the structure of the tourism industry. We are an industry with small margins which operates in a country with a high price and cost level and which competes in an international market. Profitability is still an important theme in tourism. While some regions and destinations have a good flow of visitors, other destinations and tourism products have low occupancy and are experiencing losses.
Tourism is labour-intensive and in 2018, according to Statistics Norway’s satellite accounts, had 168,700 full-time equivalents. This constitutes 7 percent of the total number of full-time equivalents. 1 in 10 new jobs in Norway is currently in tourism. Total tourist consumption in Norway was NOK 186 billion in 2018, of which NOK 55 billion comes from foreign visitors. The goal of Norsk Reiseliv is that tourism in Norway will employ 210,000 full-time equivalents in 2025, contribute to a tourist consumption of NOK 265 billion of which NOK 90 billion will derive from foreign visitors.
Employees in the industry currently contribute about NOK 20 billion in total personal tax, employer’s social security contributions and national welfare contributions. Our goal is that this should increase to NOK 25 billion in 2025.
International and Norwegian overnight stays in Norway
Tourism in 2019 experienced an increase in the number of guest nights Calculations made by statistikknett.no on the basis of Statistics Norway’s figures show that Norway had 35.2 million registered guest nights in 2019, i.e. hotels, camping, cottages. This is an increase of 4 percent compared to 2018. Norwegian overnight stays are estimated to total 24.5 million guest nights, which is an increase of 3.3 percent, while foreign overnight stays are estimated at 10.7 million guest nights, which is an increase of 5.6 percent.
The greatest growth came from USA with 140,000 guest nights to 956,000 and from Germany with a growth of 123,000 guest nights to 1,955,000. Two thirds of the growth from Germany was in camping. China, which has had significant growth over the past 10 years, had with a decline of 6 percent in 2018, and will in 2019 increase by 4.6 percent, which corresponds to approx. 21,000 guest nights. In total, there were 472,000 guest nights from China in 2019, which is slightly less than in the peak year of 2017.
Of other interesting markets, we see an increase of 5 percent from the Netherlands to 774,000 guest nights, a decrease from Denmark of 0.5 percent to 756,000 guest nights and a decrease from Sweden of 2.2 percent to 1.1 million guest nights. It is interesting to see here that we had more guest nights from the Netherlands than from Denmark in 2019 and that we are approaching 1 million guest nights from USA. However, we should mention that there is uncertainty in the figures from USA, as there are many indications that these figures also include foreign guests who have been booked via Hotels.com and Expedia.com and have thus been registered as American guest nights.
All regions in Norway, except Inner Eastern Norway, had growth in 2019, with Western Norway, the Oslofjord Region and Northern Norway with the greatest growth.
If we look at the figures from the foreign regions, Central Europe looks the largest with just over 3.3 million guest nights, then the Nordic countries with just over 2.1 million guest nights, Asia with 1.2 million guest nights, Southern Europe with 1.2 million guest nights and North America with just over 1 million guest nights.
If we break down the figures, we see a growth of 5.5 percent for hotels, of which 6.3 percent is growth from abroad and 5.1 percent growth from Norway. In camping, we have an increase of 0.5 percent, where there is a decrease from Norway of 1.5 percent while foreign guest nights increase by 4.1 percent. This is where Germany increases the most with an increase of 7.8 percent, which corresponds to 86,000 guest nights and which accounts for just over 60 percent of the increase in foreign camping tourists. The increase is largely due to tourists by car from Germany to Norway.
In the case of Norway, it is holiday and leisure traffic, business trips and the combination of training courses/holidays and leisure holidays, as well as business trips that are growing, while training courses, conferences and congresses that are not combined with holiday stays have declined since 2018.
In addition to the figures from Statistikknett.no/SSB, there are overnight stays in cabins and holiday apartments that are not registered as part of the official monthly guest night statistics from Statistics Norway.
According to Statistics Norway, 924,300 guest nights were arranged by Norwegian cottage agents in 2019. The figures show a decline from 2018, which is due to a decline in Norwegian overnight stays. Foreign overnight stays increased by 3 percent. In 2019, foreigners account for 83 percent of all overnight stays arranged via Norwegian cottage agents. 70 percent of all these overnight stays come from Denmark, Germany and Sweden. It is worth noting here that there is a significant drawback in these figures, since foreign cottage and holiday home agents are not a part of these statistics.
In 2019, there were 2,759 cruise arrivals in Norway with almost 4.1 million day visits and 944,594 passengers. In total, the number of cruise arrivals to Norwegian destinations increased by eight percent from 2018 to 2019, according to figures from the Norwegian Coastal Administration and Cruise Norway. Most cruise passengers are from Germany (37%), followed by the United Kingdom (22%) and USA (12%).
According to a report prepared by Capia on behalf of NHO Reiseliv, there were just over 5.7 million reserved room occupancies within Airbnb in 2019, which is an increase from 4.5 million reserved room occupancies in 2018.
In the last ten years, according to Statistics Norway’s official statistics, Norway has had a growth of 6.7 million commercial guest nights, of which 3.9 million come from Norway and 2.8 million from abroad. Asia and the USA in particular have experienced significant growth, with an increase of just over 640,000 guest nights from USA and 400,000 guest nights from China.
Although the number of guest nights in the period 2013 – 2019 has increased and we had a greater increase for 2019 than the two previous years, according to Euromonitor, we have a lower growth in turnover than Sweden and Denmark. This indicates that we have attracted a more price-sensitive customer group that has a lower consumption than the more traditional tourists. This is due to several reasons, but it seems that we have a higher proportion of camping and bus group tourists who traditionally spend less money on the destination. This, in connection with a high proportion of Airbnb and cruise visits, therefore means that the growth in revenue is not in line with the growth in tourism to Norway.
Norwegians’ travel in Norway and abroad
According to the travel survey and calculations made by Norsk Reiseliv for Statistics Norway, Norwegians had 23.6 million business and holiday trips with accommodation in 2019. This is 3.5 fewer than the previous year.
We still take holiday more abroad. The travel survey shows that Norwegians went on 18.5 million holiday trips in 2019, of which 7.4 million of these were holidays abroad. This is the highest number of holiday trips abroad since 2013. Norwegians went on most holiday trips to Sweden (1.6 million holiday trips), Spain (1.1 million holiday trips) and Denmark (0.8 million holiday trips). If we look at the development over time, Norwegians’ holiday trips abroad have doubled in the last 15 years.
In 2019, Norwegians took 11.1 million holiday trips in Norway. This was a decrease of about 30 percent compared to 2018. The summer of 2018 was exceptionally nice, which meant that Norwegians took far more domestic holiday trips this year than has been usual in previous years. In 2019, it appears that this level was back to what has been usual in the past.
Car was the most used means of transport for Norwegians who went on a domestic holiday trip in 2019. On seven out of ten holiday trips in Norway, a car was used for transport, followed by planes and railway. When we travelled abroad, planes were used most, followed by cars.
Since planes are the most used means of transport for holidays abroad and Norwegians took more trips abroad in 2019 than the year before, the number of trips by plane also increases in total. While in 2018 9.3 million trips were made by plane, the number had increased to 9.8 million last year.
Approximately one in five trips in 2019 was work-related, and a total of approximately five million such trips were taken. 71 percent of the business trips were made domestically. The three most visited countries on business trips abroad were Sweden, followed by the United Kingdom and Denmark.
Figures from Eurostat show that Norwegians were at the top of the holiday statistics in Europe in 2018. Norway had the largest proportion of the population who went on holiday trips. At that time, 92.5 percent of Norwegians over the age of 16 went on one or more holiday trips during the year. This was well above the EU average of 64 percent. In the travel survey for 2019, the proportion had fallen somewhat and was at a level that has been normal in previous years, when 90.3 percent stated that they had been on holiday during 2019.
Inside the Nordic region, Norwegians accounted for 3.4 million guest nights in Sweden in 2019, while there were 1.2 million Swedish guest nights in Norway. Correspondingly for Denmark, there were 2.2 million Norwegian guest nights in Denmark, while there were 0.9 million Danish guest nights in Norway.
Holiday habits and holiday planning
According to the Consumer Council’s holiday habits survey (2019), 7 out of 10 Norwegians usually travel during summer holiday, while it is far less common to travel during Easter holiday, autumn and winter holidays, respectively. 3 out of 10 say they usually travel during the Easter holiday, while some fewer, 2 out of 10, usually travel during the autumn holiday and winter holiday respectively.
How one takes holiday varies; during the Easter, winter and autumn holidays, it is the «cottage» that dominates, while staying in hotels/travelling on a package tour is most common during the summer (Note that this is among those who say they usually travel during the various holidays).
Of those who take holiday in a hotel/on a package trip/rent an apartment etc., the survey shows that 3 out of 10 plan the summer holiday half a year in advance or earlier, the same number 3-6 months in advance. For many, however, it varies when one plans holidays. It is those between 30 and 49 years who are earliest out when planning their summer holiday.
7 out of 10 have planned to travel during the summer holiday this year: almost 50 percent respond that this year’s summer holiday will be in Norway, 19 percent to other countries in the Nordic region/Scandinavia, and 46 percent to Europe in general. Few plan to travel outside Europe such as Asia (3 percent) and USA/Canada (4 percent).
Half of the Norwegians stayed in a hotel the last time they were on holiday, 15 percent spent the night in a hotel/apartment as part of a package holiday. 4 out of 10 book accommodation via search engines on the internet. 1 out of 4 books via the hotel directly, or via a travel operator.
2 out of 10 Norwegians respond that they have used Airbnb for accommodation, especially those under 40 years of age. Of these, the majority respond that they were satisfied with the stay they had last. 7 percent respond that they were only partially satisfied and 6 percent answer that they were not satisfied.
3 out of 10 respond that they would like to use Airbnb as an accommodation option in the future. Here, men are clearly more negative than women. In terms of age, we find the most positive positions on Airbnb among the younger age groups.
The development in 2020 was inclined to be better for Norway than in 2019, but we have now found ourselves in a situation as a result of the coronavirus and the subsequent economic downturn that makes further development in 2020 quite uncertain. As the situation is as of March 2020, the tourism industry is likely to suffer great losses in 2020. While we had a weaker development in the number of foreign guest nights than the average for Europe in 2017 and 2018, we are at about the same level as for Europe in 2019. When comparing ourselves with the Nordic countries, Denmark had an increase in foreign guest nights of an estimated 4.4 percent in 2019, while Sweden had an increase of 0.6 percent and Finland 3.3 percent. Iceland had a decline of -0.6 percent. For Norway, the increase is estimated at 5.6 percent.
Internationally, according to UNWTO, we surpassed 1.5 billion international holiday trips worldwide in 2019, which is a growth of 4 percent from 2018. This was a weaker growth than for 2018, which was 6 percent. The reason for the lowest growth since 2016 is related to a global economy in the doldrums, geopolitical tensions and uncertainty surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU.
Norsk Reiseliv expects the growth to gradually continue, even though tourism has been set back about 3 years in time as a result of the coronavirus. Estimates made before the corona situation were that we would surpass 2 billion international holiday trips worldwide by 2030. This was an expected growth of 5 percent per year. It is too early to estimate what will eventually become a reality. Norway will also benefit from future international growth. Interest in visiting Norway has increased considerably in recent years. This is demonstrated by both Innovation Norway’s Tracker Survey and the talk about Norway on the internet, which is increasing from all over the world and where Germany is at the top.
But here it all depends on us being able to compete in an increasingly tough international travel market. The price level in Norway is of great importance for choosing Norwegian tourism products. If the currency strengthens, whiles taxes, fees and the general price level are higher than with our competitors, tourists will choose foreign destinations over Norwegian destinations.
Our activities in 2019
In 2017, Norsk Reiseliv changed its name from Forum for Reiseliv to Norsk Reiseliv/Norwegian Tourism Partners. In connection with the name change, a new graphic profile and logo were developed, and a new website was launchedwww.norsk-reiseliv.no. This work has been continued in 2018 and 2019, in addition to a review of the association’s strategies, including checking with other organisations to prevent overlap of work tasks.
Norsk Reiseliv has worked actively with Parliament throughout the year. We have taken an active role in input meetings and consultation statements in the context of various ministries and in Parliament hearings in connection with this year’s state budget and other reports to Parliament.
We have worked actively to book and conduct meetings with key business politicians in Parliament, both those who are in position and in opposition. All meetings are part of the strategy to put Norsk Reiseliv on the map and how we can elevate the tourism industry. It is important for our organisation that we are involved where something happens, contribute our expertise and that we raise the profile of the association as the unifying independent organisation in tourism. We have succeeded in this work in 2019, and this will continue in 2020. During the year, we have established a good dialogue with several key and important politicians.
We have worked with input on important tourism policy issues, as well as worked for increased focus on tourism in Parliament and ministries. We have had our own meetings with political leadership in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, where the theme has been our organisation and the most important challenges for tourism. We have conducted several meetings with the administration in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries throughout the year, where three of the meetings were in the Tourism Committee. The dialogue with civil services, especially in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries is important for the organisation, and through this work we have created good trust between the ministry and our association.
Norsk Reiseliv has been an active participant in the preparation of the Roadmap for Sustainable Tourism and has participated in follow-up meetings with the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Secretaries of State for the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Climate and Environment.
There have been constructive meetings with the management of Innovation Norway, and we now have a very good collaboration. We have also had constructive meetings and conversations with the Research Council of Norway concerning an increased focus and need for funding for business-oriented tourism research.
Norsk Reiseliv has participated with presentations in various meetings, conferences and in panel discussions. We have participated with guest lectures at Kristiania University College, as well as sat on the jury for the HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) awards and the Grand Travel Award. Norsk Reiseliv has a very good collaboration with HSMAI, and in 2019 we conducted several breakfast/debate meetings.
The world is changing. New markets, target groups, trends and new technology require focus on more targeted and cost-effective product development, distribution and marketing of Norway as a destination. This will be a prerequisite for the tourism industry to have an impact and increase earnings in an increasingly tough international competition. With future uncertainty in relation to several of our established industries, including the oil and gas industry, Norway needs better profitability and higher growth in traditional competitive industries.
To ensure sustainable growth and strengthen market opportunities for Norway as a destination, we depend on the tourism industry and the public sector working together to develop tourism. Internationally, there is growth in tourism, and we believe our goals for growth are realistic given that the framework conditions are facilitated to increase international traffic to Norway by both individual travellers and the meeting and congress market.
The White Paper, which came on 17 March 2017, presented the government’s policy for a sustainable and profitable tourism industry. Based on developments in tourism, the report outlines the opportunities and challenges which the industry is facing and explains how the government will strengthen the basis for the industry’s development and achieve the greatest possible growth through sustainable solutions.
Tourism lacks a stronger follow-up to the White Paper from the authorities. The tourists want the unique experiences which Norway can offer, but this requires that the industry and the authorities work together for international marketing and a sustainable development of tourism. The Norwegian tourism industry is prepared to take its responsibility and hopes the authorities will also do their part to strengthen tourism.
In the beginning of 2019, Norway received a new government platform, the Granavolden platform, and in contrast to the Jeløya platform, tourism has now become part of the agenda. The government specifies here that tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries where Norway has good conditions for participating. The fact that tourism is clearly part of the new platform means that tourism will be given higher priority in the government’s policy over the next 2.5 years. Norsk Reiseliv sees this as positive for the tourism industry.
It is an goal that Norway maintains its global market share of 0.5 percent in tourism. We will not be able to manage this without an escalation of the international marketing, innovation and sustainable growth in the tourism industry, which in turn contributes to increased value creation and more jobs.
Norwegian tourism is growing – but even small changes in the framework conditions have significant negative consequences for the use of Norway as a destination, and thus jobs throughout Norway. A favourable VAT regimen can make Norway more desirable as a destination in contrast to increased VAT rates that will have significant consequences for the Norwegian tourism industry in general. The same applies to reductions in the public allocation for international profiling and marketing, and not least an implementation of a tourist tax that will have a direct effect on prices in an already pressured tourist market.
Tourism is significantly exposed to international competition. Therefore it is important that the level of taxes and fees is not higher than in the markets we compete with. This applies both if we create better conditions so that those who live in Norway will take their holidays in Norway to a greater extent, and in addition so that foreign travellers will use Norway as a destination.
2020 will be an important year for Norsk Reiseliv, where getting through and rebuilding tourism after the corona crisis will be prioritised work. We will work actively with politicians in Parliament and in the government, as well as with civil services to secure the position of tourism. We will take an active role in Innovation Norway’s strategy work and we will work to ensure that Norway takes its share of the international growth in tourism.
Oslo, 10 March 2020
Thomas Reinsborg /s/