The north Norwegian summer that was saved by Finnish tourists
The coronavirus has put Arctic tourism industry on its knees and adventure companies across northern Norway this summer feared collapse.
However, the summer season turned out far better than anticipated.
According to new data from Statistics Norway, a total of 6,4 million overnight stays were spent in Norwegian hotels and rest places in July. That is only 3 percent less than in 2019.
The lion’s share of the tourists were Norwegian. But also Germans, Danes and Finns came in significant numbers, Statistics Norway informs.
Especially in the northern parts of the country, the Finns accounted for a major share of visitors. On the roads of Lofoten, as well as along the coasts near Tromsø, Finnish cars and caravans at times seemed to outnumber Norwegians. And in local hotels and camp sites, Finnish voices could be heard almost everywhere.
The picturesque island of Senja was one of the most popular destinations for the Finns. This north Norwegian island is located in short distance from the Finnish border and only few hours’ drive from north Finnish towns.
The significant increase in the number of Finnish tourists is confirmed by the tourism industry itself. Sten Hansson from Visit Hammerfest says to Aftenposten that all his member companies report about a “huge increase” in visitors from the nearby neighboring country.
While the border between Norway and Sweden has been closed for regular crossing all through summer, the Norwegian-Finnish border in the north has remained open. With travel restrictions across most of Europe, both Norwegians and Finns have spent their summer holidays either at home or in the near vicinity, such as in northern Norway.
The tourism industry in northern Norway might have had a better summer than expected. But tough times will return soon enough. Over the last decade, the winter season has been the most popular among foreign tourists, and thousands have come from far away Asian countries.
Those visitors will hardly be seen this winter. And the Finns have more than enough winter themselves.