Tourism hopes on a reindeer’s back

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Norwegian tourism officials hope another new hit animated film will lead to an influx of international visitors. The Norwegian and Sami cultures have a starring role in Disney’s latest adventure Frozen, which recently broke the company’s record for its strongest opening weekend in US cinemas.

Norwegian folk costumes known as the "bunad" helped inspire the attire worn by characters in the new hit Disney film. PHOTO: The Walt Disney Company Nordic

Norwegian folk costumes known as the “bunad” helped inspire the attire worn by characters in the new hit Disney film. PHOTO: The Walt Disney Company Nordic

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the film grossed USD 26.9 million on the Friday alone before Thanksgiving, one of US cinema’s most important weekends.

That’s good news for tourism promoter Visit Norway, which has an agreement with Disney worth an undisclosed sum to mention its Norwegian inspiration in all movie press materials.

“They’re spending many millions of dollars on marketing the film, and we’ve hooked into that,” says tourism chief Per-Arne Tuftin. “In all advertising campaigns beyond the winter we’ll play on the interest the film provides, and we’ll work especially with TV and cinema campaigns in the USA.”

Tuftin hopes it will lead to more skiing and Northern Lights tourism, outside the traditional peak summer season. “It is a golden opportunity to show off Norway, and a gift bag to Norwegian tourism,” he said, telling newspaper Dagsavisen that the deal with Disney was “a Hollywood offer we couldn’t refuse.”

Film showcases Norway
A team of Disney animators spent a month traveling around Norway, literally drawing inspiration for the film according to newspaper Aftenposten. Frozen (called Frost in Norwegian) features the Bryggen wharves in Bergen, the historic mining town of Røros and Oslo’s Akershus Fortress & Castle, as well as Norway’s fjords, mountains, Northern Lights, stave churches, trolls, food and drink, rose painting, music, and traditional Norwegian and Sami dress. The opening score by local composer Frode Fjellheim features the Cantus choir, and was recorded in Trondheim.

The movie is set in the kingdom of Arendelle, based on the Norwegian landscape. FOTO: Disney

The movie is set in the kingdom of Arendelle, based on the Norwegian landscape. FOTO: Disney

The inclusion of Sami culture has won praise from the community. Native designer Anne Berit Anti says it’s “great” that the company has an indigenous person as one of the film’s heroes, rather than its villain. “This looks really cool, and it means a lot that Sami children can identify themselves among Disney’s universe,” she says.

The film is loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Snow Queen. It tells the story of a young girl, Anna, whose sister Elsa has cursed the kingdom of Arendelle to never-ending winter. Anna sets off on an adventure to stop Elsa and save the kingdom. Kristoff the Sami and his reindeer best friend Sven help guide Anna’s journey, with Olaf the pull-apart snowman providing the laughs.

Frozen opens in Norwegian cinemas on Christmas Day.

European tourism expected to grow
The box-office success comes as a new survey by travel data company IPK International predicts European tourism will increase 3-5 per cent next year, reports newspaper DagensNæringsliv (DN). The projection is based on a survey across 60 countries, showing 28 per cent of respondents are planning more overseas holidays next year. Russians, Swedes, Swiss and the British are expected to lead the charge.

Per-Arne Tuftin says Visit Norway’s forecasts will be finished shortly after the New Year, but he’s already seeing signs in line with IPK International’s predictions. “Russians are traveling more and more, and the growth in Asia looks set to continue. We’ve also started activities in Brazil, because we believe there are huge opportunities there,” he says. “At the same time we’ve thought about our nearby markets, especially the Swedes and Danes who, with a weaker Norwegian kroner, will get much more for their money. And the UK market shows strong interest for Northern Lights tourism.”

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate