Go to content

Annex 5. Country report Norway

1. Domestic tourism in Norway

1.1 Importance of domestic tourism

Domestic tourism is an important part of the tourism industry in Norway. In 2019, the domestic tourism consumption amounted to over NOK 151 billion, or approximately 70 per cent of the total tourism consumption. While the domestic tourism consumption rose during the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it showed lower numbers in 2020 (NOK 102 billion
Statista 2022.
) and 2021 (NOK 132 billion
). The domestic tourist consumption by Norwegian households as a share of total household consumption amounted to 7.3 per cent of their household expenditures in 2018, and 7.2 per cent in 2019.
In terms of spending, Norwegian tourists tend to spend less when travelling domestically than when travelling abroad. In 2018, 70 per cent of the Norwegians tourism took place in Norway, but only 33 per cent of the tourism budget was spent in Norway
Innovation Norway 2018.
Another way of measuring the importance of domestic tourism is to measure the number of domestic overnight stays. During the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of domestic overnight stays in Norway increased with a total number of overnight stays in 2018 amounting to almost 19 million. This exceeded the previous record set in 2017 with three million
Statista 2022.
. Likewise, the overall domestic tourism increased by 18 per cent in 2018, compared to 2017
Innovation Norway 2018.
. The increase continued in 2020 when 3.6 million more domestic holiday trips were conducted compared to in 2019, which equals an increase of 32 per cent. The increase continued in 2021, when 20.5 million trips were made by Norwegians in Norway, which can be compared to the total number of trips of 22.3 million
Ruralis 2022.
There are regional differences in the size and share of domestic tourism in Norway. An interviewee pointed out that domestic tourism is concentrated to the south of Norway and to the larger cities. On the other hand, relatively fewer domestic tourists visit northern Norway.
The difference in the number of domestic visitors staying overnight in commercial establishments in Norway between 2019 and 2020 varied between regions. Southern Norway recorded an increase in domestic visitors, and so did the southern part of Northern Norway and the Northwestern part of Norway. The rest of the country recorded an overall decrease in the number of domestic visitors staying overnight between 2019 and 2020. In a Nordic comparison, Norway stood out as the only country, in which the capital region experienced an increase of domestic overnight stays in 2020 compared to 2019
Nordregio 2022.
General restrictions to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 infection were enforced in Norway for about two years, with the first restrictions introduced on 12 March 2020. Throughout the pandemic, restrictions in Norway included, e.g., quarantine for all visitors coming into the country, irrespective of if they showed symptoms or not, and closing all educational institutions and discontinuing sporting events. During periods, international travellers, and aircrafts from locations with expansive outbreaks of COVID-19, were prohibited to land or travel into Norway. Leisure travel was discouraged, and Norwegians were prohibited from travelling domestically to their country houses during parts of the pandemic
HBL 2020.
. Norway removed most of the restrictions on 25 September 2021, but some restrictions remained in place, and were not lifted until 12 February 2022. Restrictions in Svalbard were lifted on 1 March 2022
Norway’s Governmentv 2022.
. Presently, in October 2022, there are no longer any restrictions applying to international tourists travelling to Norway
Finish Foreign Ministry 2022.

1.2 Domestic tourist preferences in Norway

To date, target audience analyses have not been carried out in the domestic market, and no tourist profiles have been developed. However, according to the interviewee of Innovation Norway, one defining characteristic of Norwegian tourists travelling domestically is that they book trips by themselves and arrive by themselves, in pairs or as small groups. In that sense, Norwegian tourists differ from most international tourists coming to Norway - which often book their travels via tourism agencies and more commonly travel in larger groups. Norwegian domestic tourists also spend less time at their destination compared to international tourists
Ruralis 2022.
Domestic tourists are perceived by the interviewee of Innovation Norway as having higher expectations on the standard of products and services compared to international tourists. Consequently, companies in the tourism industry had to readjust their offers during the pandemic. For example, some Sámi tourism entrepreneurs remodelled their products to fit domestic tourists by updating their accommodation to glamping and their food and beverage menus to become more luxurious
Arctisen 2022.
. In Northern Norway, luxurious accommodations, and other services, such as high-end restaurants, were a major trend during the pandemic
According to the interviewee of the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, domestic tourists are weather-sensitive to a greater extent, when compared to international tourists. Domestic tourists usually avoid pre-booked packages and can choose to postpone if the weather is considered poorly. International tourists usually have pre-booked package products – and have less of a possibility to cancel. When it comes to the shift in domestic tourism preferences during the COVID-19 restrictions, the interviewee mentions that outdoor recreation grew in popularity. 

1.3 Future of domestic tourism in Norway

Forecasts show that growth in tourism in Norway until 2030 will be the highest among local and Norwegian tourists. The growth in international tourism is expected to be strong in both 2022 and 2023, but it is not expected to reach its 2019 level until 2024
Menon Economics 2022.
In September 2022, 538 members of NHO Reiseliv responded to a market survey about the level of bookings for international and domestic tourism in the next three months compared to 2019. 21 per cent of the companies answered that booking levels were expected to be better; 32 per cent answered that they would be unchanged, whereas 31 per cent of the companies answered that they would be lower. 17 per cent of the companies answered that a loss of Norwegian domestic tourist could, in part, explain the lower level of bookings
NHO Reiseliv 2022.
. One interviewee pointed out that Norwegian tourists chose to go abroad to a greater extent in the summer of 2022 compared to 2020 and 2021 – having spent their vacations in Norway during the first years of the pandemic. Another interviewee, however, stressed that domestic tourism preferences, activities, products, and experiences related to food, cultural, and historic tourism, as well as outdoor activities, such as cycling, fishing, and archery, are thought to be trending in the coming years.

2. Main stakeholders and coordination of domestic tourism activities

In Norway, no government agency is tasked with overseeing and coordinating activities aimed at promoting domestic tourism specifically. However, during the years 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic, these activities were included in the overall coordination of international tourism activities through Innovation Norway, a government agency functioning as an international tourism administration
Innovation Norway 2022.
. Matters related to the tourism industry generally falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries
Nordic Council of Ministers 2019
. Innovation Norway then cooperates closely with industry stakeholders in development efforts. These efforts include, among other things, loans, grants, consulting, promotion, and networking. Funding is allocated via the state budget on a yearly basis. Activities aimed at promoting and developing domestic tourism were included in the budget for 2020 and 2021 in light of the pandemic. As of 2021, Innovation Norway will not continue to include domestic tourism in their mission.
In addition to the Ministry and Innovation Norway, regions and municipalities are important stakeholders for developing domestic tourism in Norway. Regions and municipalities are responsible for local regulations and planning, infrastructure, national parks, and attractions. Norway’s regions and municipalities often have their own tourism strategies outlining activities and goals related to tourism development. These are rarely aimed at domestic tourism specifically, but rather at promoting tourism in general. It is common for Norwegian regions and municipalities to support regional or local tourism organisations
OECD 2022.
. These are accompanied by a few important national organisations, such as Norway’s largest outdoor organisation and destination management organisation, the Norwegian Tourism Organisation.

3. Best practices

This chapter presents two “best practice” examples of efforts aimed at recovering and strengthening the Norwegian tourism industry, including the promotion of domestic tourism, namely Innovation Norway’s transition package UT-OMS-REISELIV (case 1) and Destination Sápmi (case 2).

3.1 Case 1: Innovation Norway’s transition package UT-OMS-REISELIV

In response to the loss of 90 per cent in the total tourism in 2020, Innovation Norway introduced a support package that, among other things, aimed at helping companies in the Norwegian tourism industry to change their markets from international to domestic tourists. The overall aims of the initiative were to (i) keep the tourism industry afloat; (ii) enable companies to pay salaries to their employees; (iii) help companies transition to the domestic market; and (iv) support companies in increasing their sustainability practises.

3.1.1 Activities

The support package had three application deadlines for companies: in September 2020, January 2021, and September 2021. The disbursement in the respective packages amounted to NOK 250 million, NOK 600 million, and NOK 850 million. The target group were companies in the tourism industry, which could apply for financial support to carry out activities in line with the overall aims of the package. 2000 companies applied for the support. Below, Table 1 presents a financial and temporal overview of the package.
Round 1: UT-OMS-REISELIV 1219
NOK 250 million
NOK 600 million
NOK 850 million
Deadline for application
15 September 2020
8 January 2021
30 September 2021
Period which turnover was calculated upon
June – August 2020
September – October 2020
December 2020 – February 2021
Project period end date
June 2022 (adapted)
June 2022 (adapted)
June 2022 (adapted)
Calculated share of costs for employees
No limit
No limit
Proportion of tangible and intangible assets:
Up to 20% of the approved support base
Up to 20% of the approved support base
Up to 50% of the approved support base
Maximum amount disbursed per corporation
NOK 5 million / corporation
NOK 5 million / corporation
NOK 5 million / corporation
Table 1. Overview of the support package. (Source: Innovation Norway. 2022.)
The activities aimed both at the short-term development and long-term development – and was aimed at product- and service development in particular. As one of the aims focused on the transition to a domestic market segment, the package helped companies to transition and adjust their products and services to better suit Norwegian customers. The specific ways in which companies have adjusted have varied between companies. One of the results stressed by interviewees was that companies broadened their offers, and developed new products. Reports regarding the activities will be submitted to the Visit Norway offices during the autumn of 2022.

3.1.2 Organisation and stakeholders

The package was initiated by the Norwegian government and implemented by Innovation Norway that called for applications, reviewed these, decided which companies would receive support, and paid out the support. The companies that were granted money were requested to hand in reports on their activities to their respective Visit Norway office.

3.1.3 Funding

The total budget of the packages amounted to almost NOK 1.3 billion.

3.1.4 Lessons learned

According to the interviewee of Innovation Norway, the packages were successful in the way that they changed the mindset on market segments and sustainability of both the companies and the regional offices of Visit Norway. The packages are perceived by the interviewee as a crucial factor in helping Norwegian tourism companies survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both the interviewee of Innovation Norway and the interviewee of Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries believe that the companies that received support from the package will continue to benefit from the activities related to transitioning to domestic market segments in the coming years. The interviewee of Innovation Norway stresses that this is particularly important in the light of insecurities relating to fluctuating electricity prices, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, continued COVID-19 restrictions in Asia, and fear of an imminent economic recession.
Regarding the regional offices of Visit Norway, they have, according to the interviewee, become more interested in developing domestic tourism in contrast to focusing their marketing activities on international markets.
No evaluation of the package has been conducted at this point, but according to the interviewee there are still lessons that can be learned for the future. Firstly, package three was regarded by Innovation Norway as having a more detailed and satisfactory design than the first two packages. This made the application process easier for the industry and improved Innovation Norway’s reviewing process. Secondly, if hit with another major crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the tourism industry would benefit from a faster introduction of support packages compared to the pandemic. This would prevent companies from having to dismiss employees in the short-term.

3.2 Case 2: Destination Sápmi

The Sámi tourism platform Destination Sápmi was launched in 2020 by the Business Centre of Sápmi with the aim to serve as a digital Norwegian tourist information for five municipalities in the Troms and Finnmark region, namely Tana, Nesseby, Karasjok, Kautokeino, and Porsanger. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Destination Sápmi functioned as a tool to market Sápmi and Kautokeino in particular as tourist destinations for domestic tourists.

3.2.1 Activities

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sápmi Business Centre, launched Destination Sápmi, a guide website, and various communication campaigns targeting Norwegian tourists, as well as providing support to Sámi entrepreneurs in adapting and developing products and services. The aim of the activities was long-term.
The platform was initially thought to apply to the international tourism market as well, but during the restrictions, it became an important tool to market Sápmi towards domestic tourists.
Destination Sápmi’s website presents an oversight of all tourism opportunities in the five municipalities. In Kautokeino, this includes transportation, accommodation, activities for families, activities for friends, general information about the region, as well as “hidden treasures,” such as local shops and boutiques and places where the local population resides. The “hidden treasures” offer is featured for tourists who enjoy experiencing local life while travelling. The feature corresponds to domestic tourists’ higher demands on authenticity. The platform was structured by the municipality, rather than the activity since domestic tourists have greater prior knowledge of Kautokeino.
In addition to the website, Destination Sápmi implemented marketing campaigns targeting domestic tourists. The campaigns aimed to spread awareness of the platform, as well as to brand and revalue Sápmi as a relevant tourism destination. The marketing campaigns were implemented jointly with North Norwegian Tourism Board, the regional DMC for Northern Norway, and coordinated with Visit Norway and the National Destination Management Companies, and published in various Norwegian newspapers.
Destination Sápmi also supported and facilitated the development of products and services in regional tourism companies, including the rebranding of products to fit the preferences of domestic tourists. This included making products more authentic – as domestic tourists have a higher prior knowledge of Sápmi.

3.2.2 Organisation and stakeholders

Sápmi Business Centre was the initiators of Destination Sápmi, and it is responsible for the coordination and implementation of its activities. The Sámi Parliament in Norway is an important stakeholder of the initiative.

3.2.3 Funding

The total yearly budget of the initiative is roughly NOK 800 000. The budget was initially NOK 400 000, funded by the Sápmi Parliament, with the Sápmi Business Centre adding NOK 400 000 when the original budget was exceeded.

3.2.4 Lessons learned

No evaluation has been carried out regarding Destination Sápmi’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, but according to the opinion of the interviewees, the platform was important for supporting the regional tourism industry and for adapting the industry to the domestic tourism market.
When both international and domestic tourists disappeared during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a worry that many tourist companies in the five Sámi municipalities that make up Destination Sápmi would have to file for bankruptcy. According to the interviewee, Destination Sápmi was crucial for the survival of tourist companies in these municipalities in general and Kautokeino in particular. Thanks to the platform, the marketing campaign carried out, and the support offered to companies in developing products and services, domestic tourists visited Kautokeino. There is no information on the exact number of domestic visitors during the pandemic, but as a matter of fact, no companies in Kautokeino had to file for bankruptcy during the pandemic; in general, the tourist companies experienced that the effects of the pandemic were smaller than feared. According to the interviewee, the Destination Sápmi platform, as well as the business models of companies in Sápmi, presents an alternative to the conventional strategy for development in tourism, that is short-term project-funding.
No study has yet been completed, collecting the local communities’ experiences about the platform. However, according to the interviewee, local inhabitants, as well as local politicians, have been very positive towards the platform.
As for the future, with the Asian market still under restrictions in 2022, the domestic tourism market is expected to remain important for the tourism industry in Sápmi. As Destination Sápmi has been successful, the platform will continue to function online. There are plans to turn the platform into an organisation on its own, as well as thoughts on potential collaborations with Sápmi areas across national borders.


Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2022). Nyheter om coronaläge i Norge. Retrieved from: https://um.fi/nyheter-om-coronaviruset/-/asset_publisher/GRSnUwaHDPv5/content/koronavirusuutiset-norjassa/384951
HBL. 2020. Unikt ingrepp i norska folksjälen – förbud mot att resa till ”hytter”. Retrieved from: https://www.hbl.fi/artikel/c043eed7-3a73-4480-a98a-b2142b6da3c4
Innovation Norway (2018). Key figures for Norwegian tourism.
Innovation Norway (2022). Omstillingsordningene for reiseliv/event/servering.
Menon Economics (2022). Norsk reiseliv for under og etter pandemin.
Menon Economics (2022). Näringsutvikling i Viken etter Covid.
NHO Reiseliv (2022). Marknadssituation. Retrieved from: https://www.nhoreiseliv.no/tall-og-fakta/medlemsundersokelse/
Norway’s Government (2022). The Infection control measures are being removed on Saturday 12 February. Retrieved from: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/aktuelt/the-infection-control-measures-are-being-removed-on-saturday-12-february/id2900873/
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2022). Norway. Retrieved from: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/1db86220-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/1db86220-en
Statista (2022). Number of domestic overnight visitors in Norway from 2008 to 2018. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/445331/total-number-of-overnight-visitors-in-norway/
Visit Norway (2022). Sustainability and tourism in Innovation Norway. Retrieved from: https://business.visitnorway.com/no/barekraftig-reiseliv/sustainability-and-tourism-in-innovation-norway/