Experiencing Norway – a unique adventure

Introduction, summary and policy measures

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Report to the Storting [white paper]

Experiencing Norway – a unique adventure

Introduction, summary and policy measures

Recommendation of 17 March 2017 from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, approved in the Council of State the same day (white paper from the Solberg Government)

1 Introduction and summary

Tourism is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. Increased globalisation provides new opportunities for expansion in the Norwegian tourism and hospitality industry. This leads to more jobs and local development, not least in municipalities in the outlying districts. Norway features spectacular natural surroundings, a wide array of cultural monuments and a cultural life that is attracting international attention in a growing number of areas.

The Government’s Sundvolden Declaration, 2013

1.1 Introduction

The Norwegian tourism industry had another record year in 2016, following strong growth in the number of visitors in 2015. Figures compiled by Statistics Norway show a clear increase in the number of overnight stays in both the winter and summer seasons. While it remains the case that a majority of the travellers are from Norway, the greatest increase is attributable to those from abroad. Average annual growth in the number of foreign visitors to Norway has exceeded the international average since 2010. 1 The tourism industry accounted for just over 4 % of value creation and almost 9 % of employment in the Norwegian business community in 2015. 2 Nearly 160 000 people work in the tourism industry.

One reason for the positive trend in visitor numbers in recent years is a weaker Norwegian currency, the krone . The exchange rate for the krone has strengthened Norway’s competitiveness on a pure cost basis and has increased the purchasing power of tourists who choose Norway as a destination. The weakening of the krone has also made foreign travel more expensive for Norwegians. The number of overnight hotel stays by foreign visitors rose 22 % from July 2013 to July 2015, a period in which the krone weakened by 17 %.

However, the exchange rate alone does not explain the growth in visitors in recent years. Long-term promotion of Norway as a destination has been another growth factor. In addition, the tourist industry’s determined efforts to spur product development, cooperation and training have helped boost visitor numbers. The tourism industry has taken advantage of the opportunities inherent in digitalisation and enhanced its productivity by such means as streamlining work processes.

Today’s tourism situation in Norway is a good starting point for developing the tourism industry. Projections of strong growth in the number of people travelling internationally suggest that Norway could see a significant rise in the number of foreign visitors in the coming decade. Few other industries, if any, can point to such potential demand growth. The tourism industry could thus become an important force for creating new jobs, including additional year-round jobs. Already, the tourism industry is a major employer of young people and people with immigrant backgrounds.

The tourism industry faces a number of challenges, however. An increased number of travellers puts pressure on the natural environment and may also affect local communities. Additionally, productivity and profitability in the tourism industry may be undermined by inadequate coordination – as when local projects and services of collective benefit, of interest to a limited number of actors, are insufficient. Responsibility for addressing such challenges lies primarily with the tourism industry itself. The industry points to a variety of examples that indicate its commitment to providing good solutions. Operators and other industry participants have been creating high-quality, tailor-made and competitively priced products; the industry has also become both more cooperative and productive.

The Government is submitting this white paper on Norway’s tourism industry in order to describe recent developments in tourism and to outline opportunities and challenges faced by the industry. The white paper lays out the Government’s overall policy for the tourism industry, including the ways in which the Government will strengthen the foundation for the industry’s development in the longer term.

1.2 The Government’s policy for the tourism industry

The overarching objective of Norwegian industrial policy is to maximise value creation in the Norwegian economy within a sustainable framework. Increased value creation and profitability are likewise key aims of the Government’s tourism industry policy, and these must be achieved sustainably. To achieve these objectives, the Government will focus its efforts in five areas.