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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Tourists still find Norway expensive

Even with its weak currency, Norway can still seem expensive for tourists from abroad. The price of drinks and eating out can be most shocking, because of Norway’s high taxes especially on alcoholic beverages.

Cruiseships have returned after the pandemic to Norwegian ports like here in Ålesund on the northwest coast, but tourists on board them still find prices ashore very high. PHOTO: Port of Ålesund/Torgeir Emblem

“We bought four beers,” Nicola Cox from Wales told business news service E24 last week while visiting the coastal city of Ålesund. “They cost at least double what they cost at home.” And that’s even though one of her British pounds now buys around 13.35 kroner, at least two kroner more than it did before the pandemic and four kroner more than a few years before that.

The value of Norway’s krone has fallen dramatically in recent months, even though it  strengthened a bit this week after the Norwegian central bank raised interest rates. Visitors from the US and Europe are getting highly favourable exchange rates in Norway now, but high prices can dampen prospective gains.

Cox and her group of friends arrived with a few thousand others on a cruiseship, meaning they can eat and drink on board. Most do, even returning to the ship after morning sightseeing in Oslo to eat lunch, before setting off on an afternoon tour. Their overnight accommodation sails with them, meaning they’re not staying at many local hotels either. Norway’s tourism industry has long been disappointed that cruise passengers don’t spend much money locally, and can generally avoid Norwegian prices.

Price hikes offset currency exchange advantage
Another visitor in Ålesund from Southampton had been in Norway three times earlier, but doesn’t think the country is any cheaper now. That’s largely because of major increases in the price of food and high electricity rates that get passed on to both residents and tourists. The price of most everything in Norway has gone up after the pandemic ended. Inflation is now running at around 6.5 percent.

Visitors from Denmark, who can now get 100 Norwegian kroner for less than 70 of their own, should find Norway less pricey, “but we still think most everything is more expensive here (in Norway),” said Danish tourist Nanna Schalck during E24’s random interviews along the pier.

The Norwegian tourist industry is still hoping for more visitors from abroad this summer, but may be disappointed. One visitor from Australia on board a Hurtigruten coastal voyage ship was: He said a glass of Australian wine in Bergen cost four times what it does at home, “so a currency exchange gain of 10 percent (against the Australian dollar) doesn’t mean a thing.” Berglund



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