Report: Untapped potential in domestic tourism in the Nordic countries
The significance of domestic tourism increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in all of the Nordic countries. Taking the domestic market better into consideration strengthens the resilience and flexibility of the tourism industry, according to the report “Exploring Domestic Tourism in the Nordics”, which was published on 13 June 2023 and sheds light on the current situation and future outlook of domestic tourism in the Nordic countries.
Domestic tourism is the foundation of the tourism industry in nearly all of the Nordic countries. In Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, the share of overnight stays by domestic tourists was over 60 per cent of all overnight stays in registered accommodation establishments before the pandemic, and that is still the case. In Iceland and the Nordic autonomous regions, the share of overnight stays by domestic tourists has been lower. Nevertheless, the significance of domestic tourism was emphasised in all regions during the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, with the share exceeding 80 per cent in most of the countries.
“Companies that were able to increase the number of domestic customers during the pandemic also performed better financially than other enterprises in the tourism sector. Investments in domestic tourism have not only helped companies survive the COVID-19 crisis but also enabled their growth in spite of the changes in the operating environment,” says Research Manager Juho-Matti Paavola from Innolink Research, the company that produced the report.
Promoting sustainable tourism and regional development are key
Tourism sector operators expect a bright future for domestic travel in the Nordic countries. Over a third of the companies that responded to the survey (34%) expect domestic tourism to become more significant for their business in the coming years. Almost half (46%) of the respondents expect domestic tourism to remain at the current level.
The industry operators view the promotion of sustainable tourism as a clear growth trend in the sector. Local tourism can be expected to grow, driven by domestic tourists who value quality and sustainability and are interested in nature tourism. Domestic tourism services are also believed to correspond to the needs of local communities better, and support the development of year-round tourism.
Measures to promote domestic tourism should be taken particularly at the regional level, as the differences between regions are often more meaningful to domestic customers than international visitors. The most significant measures mentioned by the survey participants, in order of importance, were marketing, closer cooperation, the development of infrastructure and accessibility, and product development.
The good practices developed in domestic tourism during the pandemic with regard to marketing and product development, for example, could also be leveraged in promoting international tourism. According to the survey results, Nordic cooperation could be increased in the future to support the sharing of best practices.
The report is based on a literature and statistical review, dozens of expert interviews and a survey that was responded to by 480 tourism professionals across all of the Nordic countries. The report was produced by Innolink Research Oy in collaboration with Oxford Research AB and the Icelandic Tourism Research Centre. The project was coordinated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Juho-Matti Paavola, Research Manager, Innolink Research, tel. +358 50 590 6716
Sini Markoff, Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 401