Norway disappoints Chinese tourists

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Tourists from China spend more money than anyone else visiting Norway, but they’re also the least satisfied, Norway’s travel authorities have found. The Chinese seem to be most unhappy with hotel service levels, and with the food.

Plenty to smile about at toruist attractions like Oslo's Vigeland pro, but almost half of the Chinese tourists leave Norway unhappy with their experience. PHOTO:  newsinenglish.no

Plenty to smile about at tourist attractions like Oslo’s Vigeland park, but one in two Chinese tourists leave Norway unhappy with their experience. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The number of Chinese visitors at Norwegian hotels doubled in July last year from the year before. The increase is expected to continue this year, newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported on Wednesday.

According to Per-Arne Tuftin, tourism director for Innovation Norway, only 41 percent of Chinese tourists were “quite satisfied” with their Norway experience, while 12 percent left Norway “satisfied.” That indicates that almost half the Chinese visitors last year were not happy with their trip to Norway, DN reported.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of Russians are “quite satisfied” and the rest “satisfied,” suggesting no Russian tourists were unhappy.

Tuftin said he and his colleagues really don’t know why satisfaction levels were relatively low. “Our theory, though, is that the Chinese are used to more service at the hotels,” he told DN. Chinese visitors may leave Norway dissatisfied because they’re used to staying in Asian hotels that typically have far more staff than Norwegian hotels and  are renowned for their high levels of service.

“Perhaps we haven’t been sufficiently clear in our communication,” Tuftin told DN. “Costs are high in Norway, so tourists can’t expect as many hotel employees here as in Asia.” Tuftin said Innovation Norway will address the problem, aiming to bring expectations among the Chinese to a more “rational” level.

Vibeke Raddum, an executive at global tour operator Tumlare, suggested that some Asians are also accustomed to a more hierarchical system, and that most Chinese tourists are inexperienced travelers.

“Visitors from mature markets like Japan, Korea and Malaysia probably arrive prepared that there won’t be people everywhere, pulling out their chair and opening doors. But China is a relatively new market,” Raddum told DN.

She also pointed to the food available in Norway. “Yes, we have Chinese and Indian restaurants. But are they Chinese-Chinese and Indian-Indian, or are they Norwegian-Chinese and Norwegian-Indian?,” she asked. “Ten days without a touch of their own food culture gets to be a bit difficult. They need a bit of rice to be happy.”

newsinenglish.no staff

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  • Robert Cumming

    The problem is the Norwegian rating system, it doesn’t match up with European and world wide standards, what Norway calls 5 star is at best 4 stars in Europe although it’s more likely a 3 star. Yet Norwegian hotels charge excessive rates and provide very small rooms without the services people expect when they pay 200 Euro plus per night for a room.

  • Charles

    I’d say it is more about managing expectations. This is a place for seafood and landscapes. If you have come to Norway for civilisation and luxury – you have come to the wrong place.

  • the sage

    First things I noticed when I came to Norway. Food and service sucks.
    Anyone who puts Jarlsberg on a pizza deserves no culinary consideration.

  • Adam

    “They need a bit of rice to be happy.” lol, I can’t imagine Norwegians making comments like that is helping the situation.

    • inno

      one of the stupidest comment i’ve heard recently, for sure. it could just be the translation, but still, this is very representative of how much narrow a norwegian’s perspective is when it comes to the hospitality industry

  • pingor

    the article is point very clearly to the main issue: in Asian hotels and shops there is a much larger number of employees assisting the customers and they always have a very subservient attitude that can’t be expected in Europe.

    This create a big gap of expectations that is difficoult for Chinese tourists to accept.

    The phrase about rice is quite appropriate: Chinese tourist really miss well prepared Chinese food.
    Even rice served in Norwegian restaurants taste different and heavier to them.
    Chinese are particularly concerned about food and they don’t really settle well with the more heavier and fattier European version of their dishes.

    • Robert Cumming

      Don’t say Europe because good hotels on the continent offer excellent service, stick with Norway and you’ll be more on point, Norwegians are not service minded people, the concept it beyond them.

      “Vibeke Raddum, an executive at global tour operator Tumlare, suggested
      that some Asians are also accustomed to a more hierarchical system, and
      that most Chinese tourists are inexperienced travelers.”

      I would think that by the time a Chinese person ever considers Norway as a holiday destination they will have been to many other locations first, Norway would not be the destination for a first time Chinese traveller.

      • guest

        I would have to agree with Robert and his points.

        As a tourist to any destination I am never looking for someone to be offering me my native cuisine, much less with quality that I am used to back home. That is so unrealistic that I don’t think that is even a factor attributed to this article,
        It isn’t a visitor’s fault from having too high or unrealistic expectations. as the Chinese are usually well traveled and can make their own sound comparisons.
        It isn’t on the customer…it’s on the attitude related to the service industry. Norway is not a tourist economy which reflects in the lack of service and absence of the right attitude if your income depended on making others feel comfortable and valuable,
        I grew up on a tourist economy and can tell you Norway gets an F- grade,