South Norway has long traditions in tourism and activities. The top layer of the British aristocracy discovered the riches hidden in South Norway’s salmon rivers as early as the mid-19th century.
Since then the region’s activity industries have gained many more strings to their bow and given South Norway a unique position in Norwegian consciousness. According to PR company Ordkraft’s reputation barometer 95% of the country’s population believe that South Norway is an exciting destination. The people living in the region also know how to appreciate their opportunities. One survey conducted by Agderforskning and Synovate in 2011 shows that over 90% of the populationbelieve they live well in South Norway.
Dyreparken – a spearhead in the region
With around 800,000 visitors a year Dyreparken is one of the region’s best known brand names and one of Norway’s most visited tourist attractions. Dyreparken is also a much-used hiking area for residents.
In the wake of Dyreparken there is a breadth of small and medium-sized players in the activity and attraction sectors which give tourists unforgettable experiences and South Norwayers something to fill their leisure time with.
Utsikten Kunstsenter (Kvinesdal) is located at one of South Norway’s most attractive viewpoints. The artcenter is newly renovated, has the latest facilities and focuses on exhibiting electronic and inter-disciplinary art. A little further east – more precisely, in Lyngdal – is Sørlandsbadet. Sørlandsbadet is one of three water worlds in South Norway (Dyreparken and Hovden are the other two). Almost 190,000 visitors took a trip to Sørlandsbadet in 2010 to have fun in the water worlds or be pampered in the fantastic spa section. Norway’s first and most southerly lighthouse lies further east. Lindesnes lighthouse was the millennium venue in Vest-Agder and holds a range of cultural events year-round. Lindesnes lighthouse is one of twenty lighthouses along South Norway’s coast. Almost half of these lighthouses offer overnight accommodation. According to one of Norway’s most enthusiastic kayakers, Lars Verket, a visit here is an experience you won’t forget soon.
The opportunities for rowing and paddling are something which distinguishes the southern Norwegian coast from the rest of Norway, but South Norway doesn’t just offer rowing and paddling opportunities among the islands, islets and lighthouses along the coast. The many freshwater rivers and lakes beyond the coastal strip offer unique possibilities. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation goes as far as describing Ogge, just north of Kristiansand “a paddling eldorado with 70 kilometres of shoreline”.
Cluster of activity companies in inner Agder
South Norway is often associated with islets and skerries covered in white South Norway houses, wooden boats and children on the beach. One story about South Norway which is not well known among Norwegians is what the moorland north of the coastline has to offer. There are more than 300 signposted hiking trails, well over 100 ski runs and 13 alpine centres large and small in South Norway.
Easily the largest skiing centre is at Hovden in Bykle. Hovden was recently launched as “The Mountain Town in Setesdal”. Over the last 10 years there has been a respectable construction boom in Hovden and this has truly created life in the little village. The winter season in The Mountain Town is filled with activities such as winter golf, skiing competitions and the development of the world-leading snow sculpture park, while the Rekordfestivalen (Records Festival), which is basically about breaking the most unusual records, is held in summer.
Evje lies south of Hovden and in the heart of South Norway. A whole cluster of activity companies which provide activities in everything from mineral hunting to rafting, gokarting and climbing adventures has sprung up in Evje.
Almost 100 festivals year-round
Festivals can almost be considered a brand name for South Norway. When Agderforskning produced an overview of the number of festivals in the region in 2007 it turned out that there were a total of 94 festivals spread over the year. In South Norway there are festivals for everything. There are festivals for wooden boats, inflatable boats, handicrafts, food, music, theatre, books, film, photography and agriculture, to name just a few.
Arendal is a good example of the festival activity in South Norway. In late June/early July the Hovefestival sees the town overflowing with young people from Norway and abroad who enjoy partying and music. The festival atmosphere has only just subsided when the world’s fastest boats take the stage in Arendal’s harbour. Norwegian Grand Prix was first held in 1994 and has been a more or less annual feature since then. The third major happening in Arendal is Canal Street, which is also a festival which attracts national and international coverage, and caused VG to claim that “the population of Arendal is beginning to be seriously spoilt”.
Agderforskning conducted an effect analysis of the three festivals. It showed that in total the three festivals generated approx. 180 million kroner, of which 35 million went to local businesses alone. In other words festivals are great attractions and big business.
Tourists bring billions of kroner to South Norway
Today tourism in South Norway is an industry. A good 7,300 people are employed directly or indirectly because of tourists’ requirements in the region. Tourists’ direct consumption in the Agder counties represented just over 4 billion kroner in 2005 (TØI: 2006), while the indirect production effects are estimated to be about 4.9 billion kroner.
The industry represents major irrigation effects and figures show that purchases of goods in retail outlets represents almost as much as turnover for accommodation and dining.
For every krone of tourist consumption indirect production effects of 32 øre are created in Aust Agder and 41 øre in Vest Agder (TØI: 2006).
|Tourist consumption by main groups of businesses||Million kroner||Percentage|
|Hotels and restaurants||1,161||29|
|Other private services||804||20|
1.9 million visitor nights in 2010
According to official statistics (Statistics Norway) South Norway had just over 1.9 million visitor nights in 2010. The Norwegian market represents approx. 1.5 million of these. The region’s biggest share of overseas traffic comes from Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.
South Norway has a large proportion of so-called “Friends & Relatives” traffic – visitors who holiday with family and friends or in other non-commercial accommodation. More than 60% of tourist traffic to South Norway is estimated to be linked to non-commercial accommodation (TØI:2006).
Arena USUS – Norway’s newest travel and activity cluster!
A cluster of travel companies in South Norway joined the national Arena programme in 2010. With this South Norway’s travel and activity industry was recognised by the national authorities as an important strategic effort for Norwegian industry development.
USUS is Latin and means “use, experience, expertise, merits and profit”. In short, Arena USUS focuses on the development and use of existing tourist accommodation for innovation and the development of activities companies in the region.
Arena USUS offers an exciting combination of companies from all parts of the activity industries’ supply chain – everyone from players who bring visitors to the region to those who give tourists a roof over their heads and those who conduct research into how the players can improve their products.
Everything is therefore in place for South Norway to continue developing activities with national penetration.