November 14, 2017 – 06:20
Over half of Norway’s population plans to travel abroad this winter. Most seek sun and warmer weather. One possible destination, seen here, is Varadero, Cuba. Cuba has now become the most popular place to go in North America amongst Norwegian tourists. (Photo: Anne Lise Stranden/forskning.no)
Terrorist threats and atrocities appear to be impacting Norwegians’ travel habits less this year than in 2016.
Last year, one in three mentioned terrorist acts and threats as factors swaying their travel and holiday plans. Now that concern is impacts just one in four when deciding on holiday trips abroad.
The latest survey of Norwegian vacation habits was carried out by the National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO) on commission by the Nordic countries’ biggest travel bureau, Ticket.
“This could partly be because many have already changed their travel habits years ago. Far fewer Norwegians now travel to Turkey, but this has already been the case for a few years,” says Ellen Wolff Andresen, marketing manager at Ticket.
Norwegians travelled abroad more than ever in the summer of 2017, with a 25 percent rise on the year before. A new record will be achieved this winter, with a 27 percent increase in planned trips out of the country so far.
The tendency this year, however, is to travel more frequently but not as far. Weekend trips to major European cities are especially popular.
Short decline in trips to Paris
After the terrorist attacks such as the ones against the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and the nightclub Bataclan in Paris in January and November in 2015, Norwegian travels to Paris plunged by over 70 percent.
These drops in visits to the French capital continued as long as two months after the attacks.
“Now it seems that the impact of terrorist attacks on our travel patterns is declining. We appear to have become inured the past few years, and we try not to let terror change our lives,” says Wolff Andresen.
After the terrorist attack at the beach promenade in Nice last year many Norwegians reconsidered their plans to fly there.
“This passed quickly and a week later traffic was up at higher level than it had been before the attack,” says Wolff Andresen.
She has seen that Norwegians now prefer to plan holiday trips to European destinations. She says this can be attributed to the escalating political turbulence and troubles in the world, making Norwegians tend to choose familiar and closer destinations.
Norwegians say they want to make shorter flights to big cities and prefer to spend less time en route.
The foreign metropolis that attracts the most Norwegians is London. It is followed by Amsterdam, which has doubled in popularity since last year. Paris, Manchester, Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence, Berlin, Munich, Lisbon and Nice are on the rise.
“The new political instability and disturbances regarding the referendum for Catalonian independence might have more enduring consequences if the situation continues,” adds Wolff Andresen.
Terror threats still important
Not everyone shies away from holiday destinations because of headlines in the news, but terrorist attacks and threats have the greatest impact amongst those who do.
Other factors concerning vacationers are the political situation in the counties they consider visiting, streams of refugees, environmental threats and changes in currency rates.
Turkey partly erased by Erdogan
Amongst Norwegians who let current developments affect their holiday travel destinations, the concerns shared by over half are linked to terrorism. Three out of ten also say the political developments in Turkey have an effect on them in this respect.
Political events and the refugee crisis follow terrorism as the second and third concerns.
Further down the list are environmental catastrophes or threats to the environment, wars and currency exchange rates.
Trump effect still seen
The study shows that fewer Norwegians now wish to travel to the USA. Donald Trump is listed as a factor that has influenced 14 percent who had considered a trip to the United States.
“The attitude has remained at the same level since the latest survey, made right after he took office in January this year,” says Ellen Wolff Andresen.
“Orders for trips to the USA plunged by 50 percent the first two weeks after Trump’s inauguration,” informs Wolff Andresen.
Trump’s oddball initiatives and travel ban for certain countries’ citizens are mentioned among the explanations. Ticket’s booking statistics reflect this scepticism to the current resident of the White House.
Despite that, reservations for the USA are currently at the same level as last year, after growing in previous years. New York is the most popular city amongst Norwegian vacationers.
In the autumn of 2016 the rise in USA travels rose by 24 percent.
“A slight drop in the dollar against the Norwegian krone and stable air travel prices have not been enough to compensate for the Trump effect,” says Wolff Andresen.
Nevertheless, the USA remains the fourth most popular holiday country this winter.
Great Britain on a roll
Norwegians are clearly increasing travels to the UK. Trips to Britain rose by 76 percent last year. London has always been a popular attraction for Norwegians and the most visited of all the cities that can be reached by scheduled flights.
With a current increase of 43 percent, London is in fourth place amongst all types of travels.
Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen have also contributed to more passengers to the UK.
“Some say that Brexit is the reason why they go the UK now. They are worried about how it will impact Great Britain after it leaves the EU, and so they are travelling there now,” says Wolff Andresen.
More scheduled flights
Charter flight traffic from Norway remain stable, with Grand Canary the clear winner.
Thailand is the second charter favourite. Norwegians mention sun and heat as their major motives for flying out of the country in the winter, according to the SIFO survey.
Cape Verde in Africa is the charter rocket this winter. Vietnam is also gaining popularity.
But scheduled flights are what really fuel travel growth.
“Lower air ticket prices and campaigns largely affect our leisure travel wishes and make it easier for many to order tickets on an impulse if they have some extra holiday time,” explains Wolff Andresen.
The average total travel costs have dropped by eight percent because of cutthroat competition between airlines and the overcapacity of seats in the market. Three airlines have also gone bottoms up lately.
Price is the most important factor when choosing air travel, closely followed by the availability of direct flights from Norwegian airports, according to the SIFO analysis.
Ticket is the largest travel bureau chain in the Nordic countries and offers trips from all the leading commercial charter travel agents, cruises, airlines and hotels.
SIFO’s survey was made with 1,026 respondents aged 18 to 79.