Visit Arctic Europe produced 130 000 new overnights in winter 2016-2017

The Visit Arctic Europe project’s co-operation with 12 European tour operators has resulted in 21 000 new guests for Arctic travel destinations over the past winter season. This adds up to more than 130 000 new overnight stays in local holiday destinations.

The project was initiated in August 2015 as a combined effort of three Nordic countries, Norway, Sweden and Finland, with the aim of increasing cross-border travel in the Arctic Lapland and thus increasing the length of visits.

Cross-border packages allow travelers to combine travel destinations in different countries, such as the combination of a Norwegian whale safari with the Ice hotel in Kiruna in Swedish Lapland. The benefit of cross-border holiday packages is that tourists who visit different countries on one trip tend to stay longer in the region. In co-operation with tour operators, 164 new travel packages have been created, out of which 54 are cross-border packages.

The Visit Arctic Europe project was intended to come to close at the end of this year, but will be extended until March 2018 to boost marketing for the summer sales. Tour operators have agreed to continue production and marketing for Arctic regions for the next three years. Some of the tour operators have already sold out the next winter, so they have shifted the marketing focus to the summer season 2018.

Almost 200 participants in first cross-border sales workshop

Visit Arctic Europe held the first ever cross-border sales workshop in Luleå, Sweden between the 6th and the 8th of June. Over 70 tour operators and almost 90 travel companies involved in the project attended the event. Additionally, VAE partners, regional tourism organizations, airlines and other stakeholders from the three countries were also present.

Maarten Raes, the owner of the Belgian travel agent Nordic, is happy with the Visit Arctic Europe project.

-For us the project has been a success. We have been able to take much higher risks than we initially intended, Raes tells us.

Raes says that everybody knows that Finland is the place to go in wintertime, but thanks to the project Nordic has been able to sell up to 500 summer holiday trips to the Visit Arctic region as well.

Raes would also like to give credit to the project organisation committee.

-The project has been very efficient, marketing has been great and all my questions have been answered very swiftly.

According to Osmo Virranniemi, the director of Sport Resort Ylläs, one of the benefits of the Visit Arctic Europe project has been that travel business owners from different European Arctic countries have created valuable networks and gotten to know each other. The tour operators' interest in cross-border packages was a surprise to Virranniemi.

-We need a new project like Visit Arctic Europe. This one was started on short notice, and it has succeeded tremendously. The next project should be easier. You have to give credit to the people working for this project.

Visit Arctic Europe is a project where three neighbours work together in a joint effort. Erica Mattsson, the CEO of the Swedish Lapland Visitors Board, says that European Arctic countries should see each other as partners joining together to compete against other worldwide travel destinations.

-We have the same possibilities, challenges and obstacles. Success comes from working together, and tour operators see Arctic countries as one region anyway, Mattsson says.

Mattsson is very pleased with the Visit Arctic Europe project. Sales figures have been better than estimated, and it will only get better, Mattsson promises.

-Travel business takes time. Tour operators obtained great results last winter, but next winter will hopefully be even better. That is how the cycle goes.

The Managing Director of Northern Norway Tourist Board, Trond Øverås, agrees.

- With contribution from the EU-program Interreg Nord 2014-2020, counties in our region and other funders including the participating companies, the Visit Arctic Europe project has had the possibility to focus on how to release the big market potential. The strength in this project, in addition to networking among tourism companies in our region and bringing foreign tour operators in as partners in the project, is the focus on operative cross border cooperation.

From our view it is also essential that the project is founded on market needs, and the fact that many travelers see the Visit Arctic Region as one travel destination. In a strong competitive global market we need to cooperate across borders to secure that we get our share of the global tourism growth.

Contact:

Rauno Posio, project director, Visit Arctic Europe project 
Finnish Lapland Tourist Board, Lapin Matkailuelinkeinon liitto ry
+358 40 653 99 00 rauno.posio@lme.fi

Trond Øverås, Administrerende Direktør  Managing Director
NordNorsk Reiseliv as 
+47 906 26 170 trond@nordnorge.com

Erica Mattsson, vd och projektledare 
Swedish Lapland Visitor Board 
erica@swedishlapland.com 
+46 70-388 60 25

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