Travel agencies and charter tour firms have long claimed that Norwegians favour countries in Southern Europe as their holiday destinations, but some official, non-commercial statistics indicate the vast majority don’t head nearly as far south. Most stay home in Norway, while the majority of those going “abroad” head for Sweden.
Newspaper Aftenposten reports that new numbers from state statistics bureau SSB, civil aviation agency Avinor and state transport institute TØI (Transportøkonomisk Institutt) smash old stereotypes of Norwegians rushing off til Syden (to “The South,” that is, southern Europe).
Instead, around 1.4 million Norwegians will travel to Sweden for their holidays this year, up 50 percent from the number just four years ago.
That’s also twice the number of Norwegians traveling to Spain, which ranks third as a holiday destination behind Sweden and Denmark. Next come Great Britain and Germany and then comes Greece in sixth place.
France, the US, Turkey and Thailand complete, in order, the top 10 foreign destinations for Norwegians on holiday, according to Aftenposten’s list.
Nice scenery and lower prices
Statistics from the Swedish tourism agency VisitSweden indicate that the west coast south to Gothenburg and east to the large lakes Vänern and Vättern can boast the largest amount of overnight stays by Norwegians. They’re lured, according to several industry players and some Norwegian tourists themselves, by attractive coastal islands and beaches, relatively low Swedish prices, favourable exchange rates and easy accessibility.
“And Sweden is still a bit exotic,” said the editor of travel magazine Vagabond, Helge Baardseth. “It’s wrong to claim that Greece, for example, is the Norwegian tourists’ favorite country. We take the most holiday trips here in Norway, and then come Sweden and Denmark.”
Jannicke Argren, who has spent the past three summers on the Koster islands off Stømstad, had no problem believing the state statistics. “You get a bit of Saltkråkan feeling here (on Koster),” she told Aftenposten, referring to a popular old Swedish TV program long aired in Norway, about life on Swedish islands during the summertime.
Sweden, however, remains absent from the lists of favorite holiday destinations regularly publicized by travel firms. One, Ticket Feriereiser, for example, just recently ranked Greece and Mallorca at the top of their list, but conceded that was based on bookings made by their own customers.
According to statistics from transport institute TØI, Norwegians took around 6.4 million overnight trips abroad last year, and collectively visit 140-150 countries every year. Three of four airline flights abroad go to destinations in Europe, with Spain and Great Britain the most popular.