From London to Lofoten: 22-year-old Lisa made a travel app

Sowerby pictured in London, where she normally lives. Photo: Lisa Sowerby
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Lisa Sowerby took the pandemic as an opportunity to learn app development. Only a few short months later, she had developed an app and founded a company – Explore Lofoten was born.

Sowerby and her dog on one of the many famous Lofoten beaches. Photo: Lisa Sowerby

The Norwegian girl is currently finishing up her degree in International Management at King’s College London. When the pandemic hit, Sowerby was supposed to be in Shanghai completing an internship.

Instead, she had to travel back home to Lofoten where she runs Lofoten Camp together with her father.

She describes herself as someone always in need of a project and quickly became bored due to the lack of tourists at the camp. She decided she needed a challenge, and app development was the answer.

“I have always wanted to learn app development,” Sowerby says, “and knowing myself I learn best when I’m working on a project.”

Surfing is a popular tourist activity in Lofoten. Photo: Lisa Sowerby

Lack of tourists

Lofoten is known for its picturesque mountains and beaches and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Norway. In fact, if you Google “Norway” and look at the pictures, chances are the famous Lofoten scenery will greet you from the screen.

Working with tourists in Lofoten, Sowerby quickly noticed how the industry was particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

Over a Zoom interview with Norway Today, she describes an urge to help the industry that she herself is a part of. “I thought to myself, I want to learn app development and could use a project. Why not work on something that can benefit the Lofoten tourism industry?”

And just like that, she started working on an app that would later become Explore Lofoten.

The famous Lofoten scenery. Photo: Johny Goerend / Unsplash

Only the beginning

While the iOS version has been available for a while, the Android version just released. Sowerby emphasizes that while the app is fully functioning and available to use, there are several exciting updates coming over the next few months.

“I am particularly proud of the app because it works as a comprehensive guide to Lofoten. You can find restaurants, beaches, and various activities. It is designed to be easy to use, and if you are going on a hike the app tells you where the trail begins,” she says excitedly.

“In addition to this, there is a map function that makes it possible to see where different things are according to your own position. You can save your favorites into a list, and there is also a selection of useful articles to read for those who are interested.”

Normally the Lofoten Islands would be crawling with tourists looking to experience the Northern lights. Photo: Max Stoiber / Unsplash

Wants to help small businesses

The goal, she explains, was to make a well-rounded app that could serve as a tool for tourists visiting Lofoten. Furthermore, she wants to give more opportunities to small businesses and hopes that her app can contribute to getting the tourism industry in Lofoten back on its feet post-COVID.

When asked about how she plans to move forward, she explains that she would love to expand the concept to other parts of Northern Norway in order to continue promoting small businesses and help tourists connect with them.

The app is currently available in English and Norwegian, but Sowerby assures that more languages are coming.

“We are currently working on expanding to German and Polish and will increase the language count even more over the next few months,” she says.

Explore Lofoten is ideal if you are looking to… Well, explore Lofoten. Photo: Lisa Sowerby

The entrepreneurial gene

When asked about where she gets her entrepreneurial flair, Sowerby is quick to answer.

“It’s all due to my parents,” she says. “They are both entrepreneurs and have definitely inspired me.”

She particularly attributes her father who allowed her to take part in their business Lofoten Camp at an early age. Being part-owner of their company means that she already had some entrepreneurial experience as well as a foot within the tourism industry.

“It just made sense to do something that I’m interested in while subsequently promoting a place that I love,” Sowerby exclaims.

Source: Norway Today / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayTravel

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