I was very dismayed to recently read an article on Aftenposten (in Norwegian so have your dictionary handy), about the possible sale of one family owned hotel in Telemark. Hotels are sold all the time, but the part that got to me was the fact that many family run hotels not located in major cities are also for sale. A sidebar to the article says that “The four largest chains Choice, Rica, Thon and Rezidor, have 50 percent of the hotel accommodations in Norway.” And I would guess that most of these hotel properties are in the larger cities. I worry that if these small family run hotels should go out of business, accessing the “Interior of Norway” will be harder for average people.
As we all know, Norway is not the cheapest vacation destination. The cost of everything is considerably higher than other world destinations looking for our tourist dollars (or Euros). However, because Norway is primarily a summer tourist destination (July and August mostly), hotels that are not located in major cities or near business activity must receive most of their bed nights in this limited time. This drives the cost of running the hotel (which includes finding help) up even higher. I have some very good friends and family members in Norway that depend on a large percentage of their income from the tourist trade. They own summer cottages, rent boats, run a cafe and have tourist support companies (tour guiding). These individuals must have other income sources during the non-summer months to get by.
Hotels are very important to the economic health of small towns and kommunes of Norway. Some of the best places to go are not near large cities including many Stavkirke (Stave Church), signature falls, adventure activities and some good local history museums. So if you are really interested in seeing Norway, you must get out of your cars, buses and trains and stay a few nights in these places. I have, and love it!!!
Norway is known for it’s nature and taking a hike in the Norwegian fjords can be very exciting. If you stay in Bergen, Ålesund or Oslo you can get a feel for the fjords while staying at a very nice hotel chain in town. I’ve done this several times and would recommend doing it if you want. However, I’ve also taken a day long midsummer hike (from 6am to 8pm) out of a small town in Sunnfjord and enjoyed this adventure even more. The closest hotel was a small family run place that also had a bus service to a nearby white water rafting company and when in season helped you find a local guide to take you fishing for salmon, snow skiing, hunting or on picture safari.
In another article that I read on Aftenposten, they talked about Innovation Norway, the company that is set up to promote tourism to Norway. Innovation Norway has asked Norwegian for their help in promoting Norway by launching a website where people have the opportunity to share their Norwegian favorite vacations and nicest places with other vacationers. I’ve already done a little by contributing to the cause at this site and I hope you can also. We need to help Norway promote itself, because if you are like me I want others to know what I do about this fabulous country and help them experience what we have experienced.
Then again maybe I should become more selfish and do my best to keep people away. I’d like to keep it to myself. 😉