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The project Exploring Domestic Tourism in the Nordics aimed to increase the understanding of the value of domestic tourism in the Nordic countries and autonomous areas. Additionally, the project mapped the potential of increasing domestic tourism in the Nordics in the future. Research material includes literature review, statistical review, interviews with tourism sector experts, a survey directed to people working in tourism sector enterprises, destination management organisations and business support organisations and a workshop with participants across the Nordic countries.
According to the results, Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions on international tourism – both outbound and inbound – served as an eye-opener to the significance of domestic tourism in the Nordic countries and autonomous areas. Before pandemic, domestic tourists counted for over two thirds of overnights in hotels, holiday resorts, youth hostels and camping sites and tourism consumption in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden. During the pandemic, the share of domestic tourism was even higher, up to 90 per cent of consumption in some Nordic countries. In Iceland and autonomous areas, the domestic tourism market is considerably smaller, but pandemic and reduction of inbound tourism highlighted how important it is for the industry.
The pandemic related restrictions have been lifted in all Nordic countries, but the inbound tourism has not fully recovered except in the autonomous areas. According to overnight statistics, in 2022 the domestic tourism stabilised to a slightly higher level compared to pre-pandemic situation enhancing its significance in the recovery.  Additionally, survey results indicate that increasing the number of domestic customers during the pandemic has meant better economic performance for enterprises. Investing in domestic tourism during the pandemic has helped tourism enterprises in the Nordic countries not only to survive the crisis, but also to be able to grow during it.
The study also aimed to provide perspectives on the preferences of domestic tourists in the Nordics. Domestic tourists as a target group is underexplored, but based on the findings in the literature, survey and interviews, preferences of the domestic tourists in Nordic countries and autonomous areas countries are very similar. Appreciation of nature and nature experiences and quality over quantity are a common interest of domestic tourists in the Nordic countries. Given similar preferences of the domestic tourists on the Nordic countries, products created to serve domestic markets in any Nordic country can be readily marketed in other Nordic countries as well.
Development of the domestic tourism sector was a low-priority effort compared to development of inbound tourism in all the Nordic countries before the pandemic. Loss of inbound tourism during the pandemic served as a catalyst for a breakthrough of domestic tourism to the agendas of tourism developers in local, regional, and national level. This study examined ten best practice cases of developing domestic tourism created during the pandemic. They share four lessons learned: importance of utilizing data, quick and agile actions, and the significance of active communication.
The future of domestic tourism is generally seen as positive in the Nordic countries. The pandemic increased the interest of tourism sector actors towards the domestic market in all the Nordic countries and autonomous areas. Financial situation of consumers and recovery of outbound tourism are challenging the future of domestic tourism. Yet, more coordinated development of the domestic market is seen necessary to enhance the resilience of tourism sector to both sudden crisis and long-term developments towards more sustainable and responsible modes of tourism, digitalisation and interest towards nature tourism destinations.
In the end, the main results of the study are summarised into seven key findings on how the tourism sector actors could realise the potential of domestic tourism:
  1. There is a need for more research focusing on domestic tourism in the Nordic countries.
  2. Domestic tourists in the Nordics love nature and value quality over quantity.
  3. Developing tourism products and services for the domestic market can support inbound tourism development.
  4. Increasing marketing to domestic tourists in the short term and in the long term.
  5. More cooperation on the local and regional level is required to realise the potential of domestic tourism in the Nordic countries and autonomous areas. 
  6. National development of domestic tourism should utilise structures created during the pandemic to strengthen the resilience of the tourism sector.
  7. Nordic level cooperation in developing domestic tourism should be initiated to share experiences.