Norsk Reiseliv/Norwegian Tourism Partners is an independent industry association that was established in 2004. The purpose of the association is to strengthen the tourism industry’s influence and position as a leading industry and create the basis for Norway to take a larger share of the international growth in tourism. Through our work, we will be the voice of tourism for the political environment, government, the media and society and an active premise setter for a sustainable development of Norway as a destination. We will signal diversity through our member companies.

The members of Norwegian Tourism Partners account for about 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. We have members in accommodation, serving, transportation, activities and dissemination. Our member companies have operations all over Norway.

Norwegian Tourism Partners is organised as an association, with the members meeting as the decision-making body and the board has the administrative responsibility. The highest authority is the annual meeting.

Norwegian Tourism Partners aims to:

  1. Ensure sustainable growth in tourism.
  2. Ensure means for increased competitiveness in line with other growth industries.
  3. Increase the attractiveness and demand for Norway as a destination.
  4. Increase Norwegian value creation and employment by facilitating profitable tourism throughout the year.

We will be the most important premise setter in tourism by prioritising the work for sustainable tourism and working for a strengthening of targeted market communication and distribution of Norway as a destination. This will be done by working for increased funds to strengthen demand and attraction value for Norway as a year-round destination, development and coordination of business-oriented tourism research, as well as for better facilitation of technology development and digitalisation in the tourism industry.

Norwegian Tourism Partners will not compete with the public policy implementation systems, regional and destination companies within profiling, brand building and operational marketing tasks. We will not operate as an employers’ organisation.

Tourism in Norway

Tourism in Norway is an important contributor to the maintenance of settlement, local value creation and an industry that creates jobs throughout the country, with significant local tax consequences and the integration of workers with different ethnic and social backgrounds.

Tourism has to a small extent traditionally been an integral part of the authorities’ business policy, where the framework conditions and public policy implementation systems are not adapted well enough to the structure of the tourism industry. We are an industry with small margins that operates in a country with high price and cost levels, and which competes in an international market. Profitability is still an important topic in tourism. While some regions and destinations have good access to visitors, other destinations and tourism products experience weak occupancy and losses.

Tourism is labour-intensive and in 2019 had 171,200 man-years according to Statistics Norway’s satellite accounts. This amounts to 7.1 percent of the total number of man-years. One out of ten new jobs in Norway today is in tourism. Total tourist consumption in Norway was NOK 193.9 billion in 2019, of which NOK 59.4 billion comes from foreign visitors.  If we add the ripple effects of tourism, we estimate that these are at about the same level as the total tourist consumption.

Employees in the tourism industry currently contribute about NOK 20 billion in total personal tax, employer’s national insurance contribution and social security contribution.

International and Norwegian travel in Norway 2020

2020 started well for tourism, with good advance bookings and chances for a good tourism year. But with the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent closure of Norway from 12 March 2020, large parts of the travel business were affected by cancellations, redundancies, terminations and loss of skills.

In total for the year, there were 23.7 million commercial guest nights, which is a decrease of 33 percent. The number of Norwegian guest nights decreases by 4 million, which corresponds to -17 percent, and foreign by 7.4 million, which corresponds to -69 percent. Hotels were hardest hit, with a decline of 41 percent. Then come cottages and hostels with a decrease of 24 percent. The reason that the decline was not greater was the first two months, and that many places of accommodation had a couple of good summer months with Norwegian guests. The rest of the year was very bad, especially for hotels that largely live on business-related traffic and foreign holiday and leisure tourism. Overnight stays at campsites are only seven percent below 2019 and are connected to the good growth they had in Norwegian guest nights during the summer season.

The winter season started well, and the guest night statistics for February 2020 are the last in a series of good growth for the ski and winter destinations. From 12 March 2020, most of the ski resorts were closed with minimal visits after this.

There are large regional differences. In the summer season, Agder came out best and is the county that comes out best of that year as a whole with a decline of only five percent. There are counties that traditionally have many foreign holidaymakers and are major players in the business travel market, such as Oslo and the other Norwegian cities that are hardest hit.

Svalbard has the largest percentage decline of 60 percent. The decline corresponds to 100,000 fewer guest nights. With 3.3 million fewer guest nights in 2020, Oslo has the largest decline. Then comes Vestland and Viken, both of which have 2 million fewer guest nights.

In addition to the figures from Statistics Norway, 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. The same applies to Airbnb. Common to these was that many had a good summer, but here there was also a decline in the year on a whole. Most of the cruise ships to Norway were cancelled in 2020.

In the last ten years until the record year in 2019, Norway has, according to the official statistics of Statistics Norway, 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 United States in particular have experienced significant growth, with an increase of over 640,000 guest nights from the United States and 400,000 guest nights from China.

Flights, buses and train traffic in Norway have also felt the shut-down and reduced travel activities for both holiday and leisure trips, business-based trips and work travel. The airlines have broadly speaking been at just over ten percent of normal capacity in the period from 12 March 2020. Bus and train companies have also had a significant reduction in passenger access throughout much of the year. The same applies to passenger traffic at sea where ships have either been in storage during large parts of the pandemic or operated with reduced capacity.

For the Norwegian tourism industry, the University of South-Eastern Norway estimates that the fall in turnover for 2020 will be approximately NOK 90 billion, down -42% compared to 2019. The export-oriented companies in the industry have the largest drop in turnover, estimated at -72% for 2020. Tour operators, aviation, conferences and experiences have a drop in turnover of more than -60% for 2020.

According to UNWTO (The United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation), the global tourism industry had an economic decline of 74 percent in 2020. The sudden collapse of international tourism means that the industry lost a total of USD 1,300 billion, or NOK 11,369 billion. Tourist destinations worldwide lost as many as a billion visitors. As a result of the crisis, between 100 and 120 million jobs are at risk.

Norwegians’ travel in Norway and abroad

As a result of travel restrictions and the COVID-19 pandemic, there was limited travel activity abroad by Norwegians from 12 March 2020. This meant that more Norwegians than usual chose to spend this summer’s holiday trip in their own country. There were also several Norwegians who took shorter holiday trips to their own country for the autumn of 2020. What characterises all these trips is that it was largely unique destinations along the coast and on the mountain that were visited. Norwegians who took advantage of travel in their own country spent more money than in previous years on accommodation, dining and activities.

A large proportion of holiday trips among Norwegians in Norway in 2020 were made by their own car, which meant that Troms and Finnmark in particular did not participate in the Norwegian summer tourism in the same way as the rest of the country because the distances were too long.

Holiday travel by plane, ship, bus and train was limited in the summer of 2020, as was the use of package travel companies to book domestic travel. This meant that there was a great deal of pressure on some destinations, while lesser-known destinations did not receive the same number of bookings and the established network was not used because Norwegians were not familiar with these.

Holiday habits and holiday planning

According to the Consumer Council’s holiday habits survey (2019), seven out of ten Norwegians usually travel during the summer holidays, while it is far less common to travel during the Easter holiday and autumn and winter holidays respectively. Three out of ten say they usually travel during the Easter holiday, while slightly fewer, two out of ten, usually travel during the autumn holiday and winter holiday respectively.

How one takes a holiday varies; during the Easter, winter and autumn holidays, it is the «cabin» that dominates, while staying in hotels/travelling on a package tour is most common in the summer (NB this is among those who say they usually travel on the various holidays).

Of those who take holiday in a hotel/on a package tour/rent a flat, etc., the survey shows that three out of ten plan the summer holiday half a year before or earlier, just as many as 3-6 months before. For many, however, it varies when planning vacations. It is those between 30 and 49 years who in a normal situation are the earliest when planning the summer holiday.

Even if one were to be vaccinated before possible departure, as many as 85 percent state that they will follow the travel advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the summer of 2021. Only 7 percent state that they want to travel abroad. Two percent state that they will travel anyway, even if they have not been vaccinated. It is relatively similar among men and women, but men are much more inclined to travel abroad if they are/will be vaccinated. This shows a survey which Respons analysis has conducted on behalf of Fremtind, the insurance company of DNB.

It is those with the highest income who plan to defy the travel advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if they are vaccinated before departure. As many as 17 percent of those who earn more than NOK 1 million a year state that they will travel – regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. Almost half of the population state that they will still wait to book summer holidays in Norway. They will look at the infection situation closer this summer.

More than 500,000 Norwegians want to travel in Norway as they do not want to take the chance of booking a trip abroad. Only three percent (130,000 Norwegians) state that they are going abroad this summer.

Holiday accommodation

Half of the Norwegians stayed in a hotel the last time they were on holiday, 15 percent spent the night in a hotel/flat as part of a package holiday. Four out of ten book accommodation via search engines online. One out of four bookings are made via the hotel directly or via a tour operator.

Two out of ten Norwegians reply that they have used Airbnb for accommodation, especially for those under the age of 40. Of these, most people answer that they were happy with their most recent stay. Seven percent answer that they were only partly satisfied and six percent answer that they were not satisfied.

Three out of ten answer 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 attitudes toward Airbnb among the younger age groups.

Further development

Vaccines and a common European vaccine passport will be crucial for further development in tourism. There are many indications that summer 2021 will be in line with the summer of 2020. At the same time, we see as a result of delays in vaccination that the majority of events, courses, conferences and congresses will be further delayed, and possibly will not be up to an acceptable level until 2022/2023 at the earliest.

Internationally, according to UNWTO, we passed 1.5 billion international holiday trips worldwide in 2019, which was a growth of four percent from 2018. This was a weaker growth than in 2018, which was six percent. The reason for the lowest growth since 2016 is attributed to a cooled global economy, geopolitical tensions and uncertainty surrounding Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.

Norwegian Tourism Partners expects growth to continue in the future, although travel is set back about three years in time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Estimates made before the Corona situation were that we would pass 2 billion international holiday trips worldwide by 2030. This was an expected growth of five percent per year. What eventually becomes reality is too early to estimate. Norway will also take its share of future international growth. Interest in visiting Norway has increased considerably in recent years. This is demonstrated by both Innovation Norway’s Tracker Survey and word of mouth about Norway on the internet, which is increasing from all over the world and where Germany is at the top.

Based on this, the goal of Norwegian Tourism Partners is for total tourist consumption to be NOK 250 billion by 2030, while foreign tourist consumption will increase to NOK 80 billion. In the same period, the number of employees in tourism will increase to 220,000 man-years. In addition, there will be ripple effects as a result of tourism at about the same level.

But it all depends on us being able to compete in an increasingly tough European travel market. The price and cost levels in Norway are of great importance for the choice of Norwegian tourism products. If the currency strengthens, at the same time as taxes, fees and the general price level are higher than with our competitors, tourists will choose foreign destinations over Norwegian destinations.

Our activities in 2020

In 2017, Norwegian Tourism Partners changed its name from Forum for Reiseliv to Norks Reiseliv/Norwegian Tourism Partners. In connection with the name change, a new graphic profile and logo were developed, as well as a new 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 an overlap of work tasks.

Norwegian Tourism Partners has worked actively with Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament, throughout the year. We have taken an active role in input meetings and consultation statements within the framework of various ministries and in the Parliament hearings in connection with this year’s national budget and other reports to Parliament.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put industry organisations such as Norwegian Tourism Partners in a special situation in 2020, where most of the time has been spent actively booking and conducting meetings with political leadership and government officials, as well as key business politicians in Parliament, both those who are in power and in opposition. The focus in these meetings has been to inform the Government of the need for compensation schemes, at the same time as we have worked with the Parliament to improve the compensation and redundancy schemes that have been proposed in various Parliamentary bills.

For our organisation, it is important that we are involved where something happens, contribute with our expertise and that we make the association visible as the unifying independent organisation in tourism. We have succeeded with this work in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021. During the year, we have established a very good dialogue with key and important politicians both in opposition and those in power.

We have held several meetings with political leadership and the administration in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries during the year. The dialogue with civil services, especially with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, is important for the organisation, and through this work we created good trust between the ministry and our association.

Norwegian Tourism Partners has had a very good collaboration with the employers’ organisations in the tourism industry, be it the Norwegian Hospitality Association, Virke and the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association. At the same time as we have also had good dialogue with the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise centrally and its other organisations and the employers’ association Spekter. Here we have also for several of the political inputs that we have worked with also acted as coordinator and liaison between the various employers’ organisations. As part of the work within events and arrangements, we have collaborated with the Norwegian Sponsoring and Event Association and representatives from the largest event companies.

There have been constructive meetings with Innovation Norway’s management, and we now have a very good collaboration, especially within tourism and the ongoing strategy work for tourism, which Innovation Norway prepares on behalf of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries.

Norwegian Tourism Partners has participated in various meetings, conferences and panel discussions, mainly in the form of webinars and Teams meetings. Norwegian Tourism Partners has a very good cooperation with HSMAI, and during 2020 we have collaborated on several online breakfast/debate meetings.

Future prospects

The world is changing, new markets, target groups, trends and new technology require focus on a 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 to work together to develop tourism. Internationally, there has been growth in tourism until 2019, and we believe our goals for further growth are realistic given that the framework conditions are created to increase international traffic to Norway both by individual travellers, meetings and congress markets.

It is an objective that Norway should maintain its global market share of 0.5 percent in tourism. We will not be able to do this without intensifying international marketing, innovation and sustainable growth in the tourism industry, which in turn contributes to increased value creation and more jobs.

Norwegian tourism has been experiencing growth up to and including 2019 – 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 regime can make Norway more sought after as a destination, in contrast to increased VAT rates that will have significant consequences for an overall Norwegian tourism industry. The same applies to reductions in the public allocation for international profiling and marketing, and not least the introduction 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 are to make it easier for residents in Norway to take holiday in Norway to a greater extent, and for foreign travellers to use Norway as a destination.

2021 will be an important year for Norwegian Tourism Partners, 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 play an active role in Innovation Norway’s follow-up of the new strategy and we will work to ensure that Norway takes its share of international growth in tourism.

Oslo, 16 March 2021

Thomas Reinsborg /s/