Norway braces for hard autumn holiday season, 27% of tourism companies have no bookings

Marius HaugaløkkenPhoto: Geir Olsen / NTB
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The autumn holidays are approaching, and with the pandemic still raging on, the situation is looking grim for tourism in Norway.

Many tourism companies have no bookings for the autumn.

Usually, the majority of Norwegians who go on autumn holidays tend to travel abroad, according to Virke Reiseliv.

However, strict travel restrictions continue to be in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the autumn holidays on the horizon, Virke now hopes that Norwegians will follow the summer trend and spend autumn holidays in their home country.

“It looks like we will get Norway for ourselves these autumn holidays, with almost closed borders,” Virke Reiseliv leader Astrid Bergmål told news bureau NTB.

“We know that many people had great experiences in Norway this summer, and we now hope people will visit accommodation and experience providers across the country, as they did in July,” she said.

“Great insecurity in the industry”

Nevertheless, around every third tourism company has less than half as many bookings in October compared to last year, according to recent figures from NHO Reiseliv.

The proportion of those who have no bookings at all is 27%.

“The industry feels great insecurity for the autumn and the coming year, and it has low booking numbers until Christmas,” CEO Kristin Krohn Devold at NHO Reiseliv told news bureau NTB.

“We can not expect a large influx of foreign tourists in the coming months, and the course and conference market is almost dead. Few companies have booked larger meetings and conferences this autumn, and few will go out and eat,” she said.

On Monday this week, the Norwegian government announced that it is introducing a compensation scheme for tourism of up to one billion kroner.

“As long as the pandemic lasts and the authorities uphold restrictions on the industry, tourism must be supported in order to survive. We expect a similar arrangement in the state budget for 2021 coming on October 7,” Krohn Devold noted.

Must say “no” to many

This has also been a demanding year for Gjendesheim in Jotunheimen, Norway’s largest tourist lodge, according to Marius Haugaløkken.

The summer was very calm, and the trend continued into the late summer.

However, Haugaløkken noted that the situation ahead of this year’s autumn holiday is developing better than usual at this time of year.

“We have had to say “no” to many in order to comply with the infection control measures,” Haugaløkken told NTB.

He said that the summer went well financially, but that it was still below the normal level.

Thus, he was unsure whether they would be able to cover the costs over the winter and stay up and running until next year’s opening.

“You get tired because you worry all the time. Is it safe? Did anyone get sick? Can I afford to pay the bills this winter and next year? Do I have to do the dishes myself because I can’t afford to hire someone to do it?” he noted.

One in three Norwegians hoped for an autumn holiday abroad

Before the summer, one in three Norwegians planned to spend this year’s autumn holiday at the cabin, according to a survey conducted by Virke Reiseliv in May.

At the time, a total of 32% answered that they hoped to be able to spend the autumn holidays abroad.

The survey was conducted early during the pandemic, while there was still some optimism about corona developments over the summer.

Last year, the largest Norwegian travel companies sold around one million trips to Norwegians who wanted to go on a sunny holiday during the year, many of these during the autumn holidays.

“We look forward to the day when these companies can once again send Norwegians on tour.

In the meantime, we hope that as many people as possible use the opportunity to experience Norway and everything our own country has to offer,” Bergmål concluded.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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