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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Tour operators urged to ‘blacklist’ drunk and unruly Norwegians

A representative for tour operators in Norway is calling for a travel industry “blacklist” to weed out what he calls the “worst” Norwegian tourists who get drunk, cause trouble, abandon their children or make unrealistic demands while out traveling. The proposal, however, faces challenges from state privacy laws.

Employers’ organization Virke, which represents a majority of travel industry firms and tour operators in Norway, is serious, though, that something needs to be done about Norwegians who cause chronic problems while off on holiday.

‘Grotesque’ reports of trouble on tour
“Of the roughly 900,000 who travel on charter tours every year, around 899,000 behave well or acceptably,” Rolf Forsdahl of Virke told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “But we have a small group of troublemakers. And that group isn’t getting smaller as the years go by. It’s gotten bigger, and I believe they simply need to be blacklisted.”

Forsdahl said he receives highly disturbing reports from Virke members, some of them downright “grotesque,” to use his word.

“There are those who threaten or assault tour group leaders and hotel employees, those who are intoxicated and party constantly,” Forsdahl said. Some Norwegian tourists “scream and howl night after night,” he added, and “get into loud fights with their partners that end with violence.”

Some Norwegian parents who drink heavily while out traveling also neglect their children, leaving fellow travelers or tour operators to take care of them “because they just keep drinking around the clock,” Forsdahl told DN. “Partying russ (graduating students) at Sognsvann look like a church outing in comparison.”

Expect nursing services
In addition are what Forsdahl describes as “the middle-aged Norwegians” who send their elderly parents off on package tours, even though their elderly parents can’t take care of themselves on such trips. “Most often it’s because their grown children want a few weeks free of taking care of their parents,” Forsdahl said. That leaves tour leaders “with folks who can’t carry their own suitcase, who don’t understand the messages they get, or who can’t take care of their own personal hygiene without help.”

Forsdahl claims that a portion of the tour companies’ customers are “repeat offenders,” and the companies should share information on who they are to mount an industry blacklist. That’s not a popular idea, however, with the information director at the Norwegian Data Protection Authority (Datatilsynet), which tries to ensure Norwegians’ right to privacy.

“This would involve the compilation of highly sensitive information,” Ove Skåra of Datatilsynet told DN. “Who should decide who gets placed on the list? What kind of information should be included? Who should get access to it? And when should the information be deleted?” Any such register would have to apply for a special concession, Skåra said.

“We are very much on the lookout for this sort of thing,” Skåra said. “In the case of child neglect, the tour operators should file a report with child welfare authorities. Only the police can maintain registers over criminal offenses.”

Skåra strongly advised Virke and its members to “have a dialogue with us” before they make any such blacklist.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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