Making Norway more capable of receiving tourists
Many tourists visit Norway to participate in activities in nature such as a Northern Lights safari or fishing. But all tourists are not satisfied. A new certification system for nature-based tourism will work to ensure better quality and safer experiences.
“Northern lights” is one of the most frequently search words on Visit Norway’s website. More and more tourists are travelling to Norway hoping to see these magical lights.
This, in turn, has led to a surge in the number of companies offering aurora activities but the tourists are not always satisfied.
“There is an increasing number of cases where tourists complain about their experiences in Norway. It can be about i poor guides or inadequate service. As a high-cost country, Norwat faces a challenge in ensuring that the tourists feel that they are getting value for money,” says researcher Trude Borch at Nofima.
“With more extensive promotion from a tourism sector such as Northern Lights operators, the tourists’ expectations are become high. When we in parallel with this, have a growing number of new providers of these services, ‘cowboys’, delivering low quality will often enter the market. If this results in a gap between tourists’ expectations and the services provided, it’s time for taking action,” says Borch.
She has been given the responsibility for leading a three-year research project that will contribute to the development of a certification system for the part of the Norwegian tourism industry that offers nature-based activities.
“The aim of our project is to develop a standard that can be used in assuring that tourist companies meet specific requirements related to safety, sustainability and quality. With this, the industry can hopefully avoid angling tourists who suffer engine failure out at sea not knowing who they should contact for help or that skiing tourists perish in the mountains. The industry itself often knows where the problems lie and must and will be deeply involved in the work with developing the quality criteria in this certification system,” says Borch.
Researchers at Nofima and the Bodø Graduate School of Business has in a previous project examined what certification schemes that are in operation in Scotland, New Zealand and Iceland, three important competitors for Norway in international markets for nature-based tourism activities.
“Scotland and New Zealand have come a long way regarding quality assurance, but Iceland did first introduce a certification system in 2012. The certification systems in these countries vary regarding their focus on environmental sustainability, safety and quality in the provision of services to tourists, but the Norwegian tourism industry will use these systems as inspiration in their development of a certification system,” says Borch.
The new research project is financed by four regions in the Regional Research Funds in Norway and involves researchers at Nofima, the Bodø Graduate School of Business, Vestlandsforskning, the University of Gothenburg, the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Highlands and Islands in Scotland.
The industrial clusters involved in the project are NCE Tourism Fjord Norway, ARENA Winter Experiences, ARENA USUS, the company networks Innovative Experiences and Snowball as well as the industry organisation for rural tourism, farm-produced food and recreational fishing, HANEN.
Nofima has for many years worked with certification systems in food industries. For example, the internationally recognised TraceFish standard was developed by Nofima researchers.
Nofima will, in conjunction with a number of research and commercial entities, build on this expertise to ensure that the Norwegian tourism industry offers tourists the experiences they expect and deserve.