Norwegian Centre of Expertise Fjord – Norway: Will make Western Norway the world’s best travel destination

If the tourism and hospitality companies and developers in Rogaland, Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Møre og Romsdal Counties have anything to say about it, the Norwegian winter will soon become a major tourist attraction and Western Norway will be the world’s best travel destination.

Together, these industry players comprise NCE Tourism – Fjord Norway, a Norwegian Centre of Expertise based on an existing, long-term collaboration in the tourism industry in Western Norway through the company Fjord Norway.

Magnificent landscapes

Kaia Finne leading the way up the mountain. (Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life AS/Fjord Norway)

Kaia Finne leading the way up the mountain. (Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life AS/Fjord Norway)

The natural surroundings provide an excellent starting point: The region’s fjords and mountains have long been a favourite destination of international tourists, and the National Geographic Society’s Center for Sustainable Destinations placed Fjord Norway at the top of its list of the world’s iconic destinations in 2009.

Benefits from NCE status

Fjord Norway won the competition to become Norway’s expert tourism and hospitality cluster based on its level of cooperation, overall expertise and good results in 2009.

“Thanks to our status as an NCE, we can cultivate an even better cluster dynamic in the region that entails more cooperation between the R&D groups, the authorities and the industry itself,” says Kaia Finne, currently acting as Chief Project Manager of NCE Tourism – Fjord Norway.

Financial support is part of the overall package: The cluster will receive NOK 50 million from the NCE scheme as well as about NOK 80 million from the tourism and hospitality industry and regional public players. The funds will be invested in the development of tourism in Western Norway over the next ten years.

Theme-oriented tourism is hot

The new NCE intends to create a more unified tourism sector by linking product development and market communication. Theme-oriented tourism is a key concept here.

“Theme-oriented tourism means that we focus on what the travellers will experience during a holiday rather than where they want to spend their holiday. In the initial phase we will focus on skiing, nature-based activities, hiking, art and culture,” Ms Finne explains.

Market communication will target the customers’ interests rather than their age, gender or nationality, and the local players have no compunctions about utilising new electronic media.

“For example, by using Facebook we reach directly into the homes of people who would love to race down the Sunnmøre Alps on skis as well as to those who would enjoy walking in the footsteps of the composer Edvard Grieg or who have a keen interest in the old, wooden Hanseatic buildings along the wharf in Bergen.”

Uniting forces

Perhaps the project manager’s most critical task is to convince the myriad of small and large competitors in the tourism and hospitality industry to grasp that cooperation will pay off.

“The two major cities in this part of Norway, Bergen and Stavanger, are competing for attention, tourists and revenues, of course. But in the context of the international tourism market, Norway is in the flyweight division. We need to consolidate our efforts at the regional level in order to reach our goals,” says Ms Finne.

Source: The Research Council of Norway

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