1. Demand for types of experience
Luxury doesn’t seem to resonate much with the typical Norwegian traveller. Research shows that this traveller would much rather stay in a 3-star guesthouse and spend the remainder of their budget on experiences, as opposed to splurging on a 5-star luxury hotel and lounging around the pool for the majority of their getaway. In short, there’s a high demand for experiential travel amongst Norwegian visitors to South Africa, with a particular focus on delving deeper into history and culture.
2. Marketing consumption
Depending on the scope of their trip, many Norwegians will opt to book a holiday to South Africa through an agent, which is why it’s crucial for travel suppliers to maintain good relationships with these ‘go-betweeners’. Not only is regular, clear and concise communication key but it’s also vital to get agents excited about promoting South Africa as a destination.
Along with booking through agents, Norwegians are known to be enthusiastic about utilising online tools and resources when considering their next destination, with a strong preference for travel videos in terms of media consumption. According to the ‘Nordic Travel Study 2016’ over half of Norwegians have turned to a search engine as a means for exploring prospective holiday destinations, and 28% of individuals who watched travel videos claimed that the videos had an influence on where they eventually decided to travel.
3. Travel behaviour
The number of Norwegian visitors to South Africa has remained fairly consistent over the years, averaging between 17 000 and 19 300 per annum. Post-pandemic, there’s expected to be an increase in these numbers. This is due, in large part, to the elimination of direct flights from Norway to its citizens’ more frequently chosen destinations similar to South Africa, such as Thailand. Now, with the amount of time that it takes to get to firm favourite destinations compared to South Africa, more and more Norwegian travellers are considering opting for something different and are hungry for fresh, exciting experiences.
According to wetu, their itinerary generator stats indicate an increase in interest in the destination. Although the market has a long way to go to get back to where they were in 2019, the graph is on an upward trajectory indicating positive growth in the source market.
Pre-pandemic, most Norwegian visitors were headed to the Western Cape, Gauteng, and the Eastern Cape province and spending, on average, 18.2 nights in the country. However, there’s evidence to suggest that shorter trips, including weekend trips, are likely to trend amongst this source market in 2022.
4. Traveller preferences
As mentioned, it’s all about the experience for the Norwegian traveller. They are looking to engage in experiences that add value to their holiday and their lives. They want to meet real people with real stories to tell and engage directly with ‘witnesses to change’. They’re known to be especially enthralled by South African history due to how unique it is.
On average, Norwegian travellers have 35 days of annual leave and tend to travel seasonally, particularly during their summer months from June – August. These times of the year are ideal for promoting safaris – yet another point of interest amongst these travellers. This is because visibility is improved on game drives and walking safaris as a result of low grass heights due to lack of rainfall throughout the South African winter. The weather is also mild and more pleasant for visitors who come from colder climates.
Norwegians also typically travel over the December festive season and the Easter holidays, often in search of sunny destinations to escape their own winter chill.
5. Planning to booking
Not all Norwegians feel comfortable travelling abroad just yet. About half are ready and keen to get back to travel right now, while the other half is opting to wait out the COVID ‘storm’. Therefore, there’s a split between advance booking and last-minute booking within this source market.
6. Tips for adapting to the needs and demands of the Norwegian source market
When promoting South Africa as a destination, the focus needn’t be on the weather or the scenery, but rather on the experiences and activities that await. Norwegian visitors will be travelling a long way to get to the country and want to feel confident knowing that their efforts will be worthwhile.
Considering how this source market strives to experience as much as possible during their time away, it’s important to emphasise accessibility and how quick and easy it is to go from one place – or one experience – to another, such as from the Kruger National Park on safari to the beaches of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Many Norwegian travellers are keen to explore more of the African continent as opposed to only stopping in South Africa. More effort needs to be put into promoting and creating combination destination holiday packages to entice those looking to embrace a more complete African experience.
7. Obstacles to reaching the Norwegian source market
Limited awareness is the primary challenge to reaching the Norwegian source market right now. Tourism boards are encouraged to be more active when it comes to promoting South Africa as a destination capable of competing with the destinations that Norwegians are more familiar with.