Photo: Shutterstock


Tourism is an important industry in Scandinavia

Here at home in Scandinavia, tourists are also a major source of tax revenues for both small communities and governments.

May-Britt Paulsen owns the company Northern Partner in Svolvær, Lofoten. In the nature beauty spot of Lofoten, tourism has become an important industry. May-Britt Paulsen runs Northern Partner, a tour operator in Svolvær.

“Fishing has always been the bedrock of the entire population of Lofoten. The travel industry has become a good number two as it provides a lot of jobs,” Paulsen tells Scandinavian Traveler.

Tourism in Lofoten and the rest of Norway generated Nkr176.6 billion in 2017. That made up 4.3 percent of gross national production in mainland Norway. The travel industry provides an incredible 166,400 working years, up 2.4 percent from the previous year, according to Statistics Norway.

Big government revenue generator

And this is put to good use.

“Nationally, tourism contributes Nkr4.4 billion in tax revenues to the municipalities. That's more than both the processing and seafood industries,” says Kristin Krohn Devold, Managing Director of the enterprise organization NHO Reiseliv.

Tourism is also a big revenue generator in Denmark. According to Visit Denmark, tourists in Denmark spend an estimated Dkr128 billion which makes up 2.4 percent of Denmark's GNP. And the sector is a big job provider, with 161,000 people in full time employment. For every million kroner spent, 1.26 jobs are created. Not to be sniffed at.

And every krone a tourist spends in Denmark, has an added value of 35 øre. The knock-on effects can benefit the real estate sector. Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services and tax collected are important for the Danish treasury.

very krone a tourist spends in Denmark, has an added value of 35 øre. Photo: Robin  Skjoldborg

The majority of visitors to Denmark come from Germany, Norway and Sweden.

In Sweden, tourists generated an incredible Skr337 billion in 2018, according to Tillväxtverket (the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth). An incredible 172,000 people are employed in the tourist industry in Sweden. During the course of 2018, 3,000 new jobs were created in the industry, of which the majority were in the hotel and restaurant sector. Foreign visitors make a big contribution to the Swedish VAT account, Skr19.8 bn in total. Tourism's share of GNP has remained constant at between 2.6 and 2.8 percent in recent years. Norwegians love their next door neighbors and are the biggest group of visitors to Sweden, followed by Germans and Danes. But many Americans also visit the country.


The tourism industry aims to continue to grow in Scandinavia.

“The World Travel & Tourism Council has predicted tourist industry growth in a number of different countries. They expect average annual growth in employment in the Norwegian travel industry of 1.4 percent and annual growth in value creation of 2.2 percent. If these forecasts prove accurate, the Norwegian travel industry will employ a total of 206,000 people in 2028,” says Devold.

Denmark has experienced fine growth in terms of both hotel stays and visits to the major attractions such as Tivoli Gardens, and Visit Denmark expects further growth. For example, bed capacity has increased by a remarkable 20,000 beds between 2008 and 2017. This gives them reason to expect Denmark will attract even more visitors. Sweden is also counting on growth.

“It’s great to see continued favorable growth for tourism. The tourism industry is not only financially important for Sweden, but also an important job and integration engine in the whole country. The government has resolved to produce a national strategy for the tourism and visitor industry,” Minister for Enterprise Ibrahim Baylan states in a press release.

More tourists means more jobs. This is the Old Town in Stockholm. Photo: Shutterstock

But there’s more to tourism than revenues alone. It helps create a sense of pride in where you come from and a desire to preserve and build on this.

“It wasn't cool to say you were from Lofoten 20 years ago,” says Paulsen. “The fishing villages were in a state of disrepair. Take a fishing village such as Henningsvær, for example. But tourism is helping to preserve the fishing village and housing demand has increased. Now and again, visitors tell locals how wonderful where they live is and this helps boost pride and a desire to protect it. And that’s probably true for many other places as well. It's important for our economy.”


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