Scandinavia is booming as a travel destination

5 min read
Mar 13, 2024 11:28:07 AM

Growing interest in Sweden, Norway, Finland & Denmark

The Nordic countries have a lot to offer as a travel destination — midnight sun and long days in the summer, northern lights in the dark season, happy people and, of course, stunning nature. More and more travellers are discovering the benefits of the North and choosing a holiday in Denmark, Sweden, Norway or Finland.

Recent figures from a representative survey in Germany show that Scandinavia has even overtaken popular holiday destinations such as Turkey and Greece. But there is also growing interest in the Nordic countries in other German-speaking countries, as well as in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Positive figures from Germany

The recently published tourism analysis (German source) by "Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen" (Foundation for Future Studies) shows that the destination "Scandinavia" is becoming an increasingly popular destination. For the analysis, 3,000 people over the age of 18 in Germany were asked about their travel behaviour and intentions.

The representative survey found that Scandinavia (in this case: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland) is the third most popular European destination. While popular destinations such as Turkey and Greece lost percentage points, Scandinavia recorded an increase compared to 2022.

Top 6 European travel destinations:

Professor Ulrich Reinhardt, Scientific Director of the Foundation for Future Studies, emphasises the positive image of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway, which is also important for travellers. "Many travellers associate the Nordic countries with nature, safety, high quality standards, atmosphere and great hospitality," says Professor Reinhardt. Accessibility by car also plays an important role, because unlike other studies on this topic, the Foundation for Future Studies survey also includes self-organised trips.

Direct flights to Northern Europe

There is also a positive trend in air travel. Many airlines have recognised the potential of Northern European destinations and have opened new routes to Scandinavia. For example, Eurowings has almost doubled the number of seats on offer compared to 2019. In addition to existing connections, the airline has added the route Hanover - Stockholm (Sweden) for the summer and the connection Düsseldorf - Kajaani (Vuokatti, Finland) for the winter. Lufthansa is also expanding its flight portfolio with direct flights from Munich to Trondheim (Norway) and Oulu (Finland). Widerøe opens the gateway to the fjords with a direct flight from Brussels to Bergen (Norway)

Germans' desire to travel has increased again

The tourism analysis of the Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen also shows that the desire to travel among Germans has generally increased again. The frequency of travel has returned to the pre-corona level of 61%, an increase of 3 percentage points on the previous year.

Spending on main holidays reached record levels in 2023, averaging €1,538 per person. This means that a family of four spent on average more than €6,000 on their main holiday.

Professor Reinhardt says that travelling is an escape from everyday life and a way to recharge the batteries: "It contributes to personal development and creates memories. Despite all the challenges, travel will therefore remain a central part of many people's lives in 2024, for which they are willing to spend a lot of money."

Families (75%) and childless couples (72%) travelled more often than average in 2023, while singles (50%) were more likely to stay at home.

Comments from tour operators

Tour operators from Germany, Switzerland and Austria also confirmed that interest in the Nordic countries is growing. Kathrin Stüssi of Travelhouse says that customers are looking for a safe holiday destination in uncertain times: "A holiday destination in Europe is an obvious choice. In addition, the scorching summers in Southern Europe are causing people to flee to the 'cooler' north during the summer".

Daniel Lang of Fintouring points out that although demand is good, you have to be careful not to let it get too high. "Especially in winter in Lapland, it gets too crowded in the high season. In some places, that's when the peace and solitude come to an end," says Daniel Lang.

As we only offer Scandinavia and the Nordic countries, I can't say anything about the development of bookings in relation to other destinations. Overall, the trend is clearly upwards; for us, Norway in particular, but Finland is also doing well this year.

High-priced holidays are generally well booked. Customers have (saved) money that they would like to spend, and many are attracted to safe destinations where they can travel alone (by train, boat or car) and where it is not too hot in the summer. Experiencing nature is also important.
We notice that customers are booking early again. We had a pre-booking list for our winter charter to Kittilä and the first rotation is almost fully booked. In my opinion, the fact that winter in Lapland is booming is partly due to the lack of guaranteed snow in the Swiss Alps, but also to the social media hype about the Northern Lights and the winter wonderland.
We are also seeing more and more repeaters travelling to Finnish Lapland for the second or third time.

We also have high demand for the summer, both from direct customers (B2C) and travel agencies (B2B).
As in the previous year, Norway, Sweden and Denmark are clearly ahead in terms of sales, but Finland is also on its way. Demand for Iceland is stagnating at a very high level - I think we have slowly reached the peak here in terms of price/performance.
The Nordic countries are currently doing particularly well as safe holiday destinations, and as summer temperatures continue to rise in the south, we are seeing increased demand for Northern Europe.
The figures are at a similar level to before the pandemic, or are developing in that direction. That's good news, of course. Demand is increasing, but not as exorbitantly as some of the "industry giants" like to claim.
What we are noticing as a small, but fine specialist tour operator, is that the pandemic seems to have unsettled many customers. In other words, our pre-booking advice and our commitment to our customers (including the very conscientious compilation of travel documents) are even more in demand due to Covid-19.
But that has always been our selling point with customers - to highlight the added value of our expertise and give our customers a "good feeling" when travelling.
The important thing is that our local partners in Northern Europe share our way of thinking and working. Only then is the travel product complete.
The demand for travel to both Scandinavia and Central Europe is greater than ever.
As we only offer trips to the north, we do not have customers who change their direction of travel to the north. However, we know that families who have never been to the North contact us and ask about a trip because, among other things, the summers in the South are too warm. As they have never been to the north and are unfamiliar with it, they are looking for a specialist tour operator to do the planning for them.
The demand for our travel offers is constantly increasing.


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