The tourism industry has a significant role to play in the Norwegian economy, both in terms of contribution to GDP and to employment. Total output within the Norwegian tourism market reached NOK136.0 billion (US$23.4 billion) in 2012.
According to the World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013, which ranks 140 countries, Norway was 22nd in terms of overall travel and tourism competitiveness, and 10th, both in terms of safety and security, and tourism infrastructure.
The main attractions of Norway are the varied landscapes that extend across the Arctic Circle. It is famous for its fjord-indented coastline and its mountains, ski resorts, lakes and woods, and of course, the Northern Lights. The main tourist cities in Norway are Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim and Tromsø.
Much of the nature of Norway remains unspoiled, and thus attracts numerous hikers and skiers. The fjords, mountains and waterfalls in Western and North Norway attract several hundred thousand foreign tourists each year.
The recession led to a period of stagnation in travel and tourism in Norway. Arrivals from many countries showed negative growth, and outbound travel decreased. Norwegians were not confident about their financial situation, and it led to a re-evaluation of their priorities.
A solid expansion in inbound tourism occurred over the past four years, as the number of international arrivals increased from 4.3 million in 2008 to 5.1 million in 2012, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.04%. International arrivals rose by 9.7% in 2010 and a further 4.1% in 2011, compared to the slight decline of 0.02% posted in 2009.
It is expected that inbound tourist volumes will continue to increase through to 2017, at a CAGR of 3.8%. International arrivals will be mainly driven by improved economic conditions in Norway's key source countries and government initiatives to promote Norwegian tourism in Europe and other parts of the world.
Online innovations and smartphones contributed to the further development of travel and tourism in Norway. Various tourism online search engines with massive discounts are attracting consumers to book online. Consumers can enjoy more convenient electronic documentation, whilst companies can reduce their distribution and production costs.
For more information on the Norwegian tourism market, see the latest research: Norwegian Tourism Market
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