If you’ve travelled to the West Nordic region (Greenland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands), chances are that you’ve probably been everywhere else in the world already. At least, that’s what tourism research is saying.
This past weekend the Vestnorden Travel Mart was held in Nuuk, Greenland and attended by 150 visitors in total from 23 countries. The annual event saw a jump in interest from buyers, who are travel agencies or suppliers searching for travel opportunities for their clients from across the world.
Research from Iceland and Greenland has shown that travellers to these countries are ‘globe trotters’ or ‘enlightened travellers’: middle-class educated people who have already explored the rest of the world and are thirsting for something new. They are willing to pay more for authentic and rare experiences. It doesn’t matter how old they are, more that they have a sense of adventure.
At the Vestnorden Travel Mart, Greenland showcased a new statistics website that allows the viewer to get psychographic data, based on a year-long visitor mapping project. The research is supposed to make it easier for the actors in the tourism industry to create products and experiences that match tourist expectations, desires and needs. It should also help tourist providers to make international combination products.
This mapping project and new statistics website is in line with what the North Atlantic Tourism Association (NATA) board is focused on. Instead of working on collaborative marketing, they are developing the frameworks to make this happen easier in the future. The focus is on insights, data, tools, regulatory frameworks and sustainable development.
These frameworks will enable the actors and tools to create possibilities, suggest Iceland’s head of tourism board Ólöf Ýrr Atladóttir. And Iceland should know why this is needed.
Iceland’s tourism has soared since the economic crash a few years ago. Tourism has grown steadily each year by 15 – 20 per cent, and Atladóttir says that she would be happy with less annual growth, and a firmer grasp with what is happening in the market. Sustainable and ethical development is now the focus. Besides the ‘enlightened traveller’, they will be focusing on the MICE market, meaning Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions.
Greenland on the other hand went through a big rebranding campaign recently to further identify what they were offering. They launched The Big Arctic 5 concept: portraying whales, icebergs, northern lights, pioneering people and dog sledding as five must-do things when coming to Greenland. The past few years have focused on statistics gathering, to get an understanding of just who exactly is visiting Greenland. For example, there is no specific data yet on just how many air tourists there are, because it has so far been impossible to separate the residents from the tourists in the plane. With the data they have, they will focus on growing the market segments already existing in each region of Greenland – and hopefully work with suppliers to develop tourism which will be of interest to visitors.
The Faroe Islands want more tourists! Currently their visitors only consume 100,000 bed nights each year. They are seeking to grow the market. The Faroese government has been supportive of this initiative; they doubled the tourism budget from 8.75 to 17.5 million Danish kroner. The head of Visit Faroe Islands Guðrið Højgaard says that the Nordic area is an important market. However, they are also looking to increase intake from tourism interest groups who can come all year around. Activities like diving, hiking and knitting are not seasonal. Apparently knitters have flocked to the Faroe Islands due to the popularity of the TV series The Killing!
It will be interesting to see what the future state of tourism of the West Nordic region will be – but why not come by and see for yourself? Having not been there before I was fascinated to hear about the Faroe Islands – and once I reach there, I will complete the tri-fector =)