Norway's Trolltunga beauty spot has become famous around the world. Photo © Sveinung Klyve / www.fjordnorway.com
Until recently, the Trolltunga lookout spot received only a trickle of visitors each year, most of them coming from the surrounding Hardanger region of Norway.
Then, around the year 2010, an enterprising group of local people took matters into their own hands.
“In the beginning, a few young people begun offering guided tours of the area, taking the right pictures, and making things happen,” Dag Aksnes explains.
“Local residents gave up good, safe jobs to start guiding in the region.”
Luckily, their hard work paid off. Today, the beauty spot is known around the world, and attracts up to 100,000 awe‑inspired visitors each year.
Smaller tourism companies are opening Norway up to the world. Photo © Scott Sporleder / Matador Network / www.fjordnorway.com
This is far from an isolated story. Across the country, small businesses are fixing up hotels, finding new hiking trails, and turning to social media to share their discoveries.
Dag, who is head of NCE Fjord Norway Tourism, believes that smaller firms have played a vital part in opening up Norway’s fjords and mountains to the outside world.
According to him, these small tourism companies are often more innovative than their larger counterparts.
“These are the people who have been out in front, starting things up,” he explains.
Dag Aksnes, Head of the NCE Fjord Norway Tourism business cluster, believes small travel companies need more recognition for their hard work
Success stories like Trolltunga can reach far beyond the borders of Facebook and Instagram.
For with every new visitor that comes to Norway, more work is provided for local people and more money flows into local communities.
Dag adds that the tourism industry is often the place where immigrants to Norway find their first jobs, while the sector also employs high numbers of women and young people.
“It’s an important industry for Norway, and we need it to grow and develop in future,” he says.
Tourism is an important part of the Norwegian economy. Photo © Mattias Fredriksson/Fjord Norway
Unfortunately, this growth doesn’t come easy for many of Norway’s smaller operators.
Small travel companies often face tough challenges when starting up, and can suffer from a lack of support and guidance from their peers.
According to Dag, as many as half of all new businesses in the sector go bust during their first few years.
At the NCE Fjord Norway Tourism, he and his colleagues are working to overcome these challenges.
“We bring travel companies together so that they can share their expertise,” he says.
“We teach them how to reach the right customers, how to sell their products, and how to bring in customers in the low season.”
In the future, Dag and his organization even hope to establish a shared hub in western Norway, where many smaller companies can work together shoulder‑to‑shoulder.
This type of support is important not just for the travel industry, but also for the whole of Norwegian society.
“These are companies that are daring to think differently – and we have to support them when they do that.”
Are you interested in setting up a new tourism company in the Greater Bergen region? If so, you could receive crucial support from Invest in Bergen.
Our organization can provide information, introductions to useful contacts, and even help you to find your ideal business location in Greater Bergen. If you’re interested in these services, simply get in touch with us today.