Seven European tour operators tested a cross-border travel product from Inari to Northcape and Alta last week. The trip was part of the Visit Arctic Europe project, which markets Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway as one tourism destination.
More than 200 tour operators from VAE’s European target market areas (Benelux, German speaking Europe and the UK) were invited in December 2016 to participate in familiarization trips to the northern regions of Finland, Sweden and Norway. The aim of these trips is to encourage tour operators to take these destinations and products into their production and increase sales.
Interest from tour operators was overwhelming: the project got almost 200 requests from 60 different tour operators. In consequence VAE project organizes 12 familiarization trips this winter. Trips cover the whole area of VAE. Nine out of twelve are cross-border trips.
– We host 87 tour operators during the winter months. First two trips took place at the end of January and covered northern Sweden and Norway. The third trip that took place last week was the first cross-border trip, covering Inari in Finnish Lapland, and Northcape and Alta in Northern Norway, Rauno Posio from the Finnish Lapland Tourist Board says.
Silja Mordelet from Visit Inari was happy with the outcome.
– We are hoping to do more co-operation with Norway in the future and this was a good starting point. We have such different products and we are convinced clients would appreciate the chance to combine these two destinations, Mordelet says.
Tour operators share Mordelet’s vision. Esther Baas from Norge Reiser, Netherlands, visited Inari and Northcape for the first time. She sees a lot of potential in cross-border tourism.
– This is a very appealing product for our clients. Northern lights interest them, as well as the sami culture. The only challenge for winter season is the transfer between destinations. The price needs to stay reasonable, Baas says.
The next round of fam trips for European tour operators will be organized in summer and autumn 2017.
In addition, Visit Arctic Europe co-hosts several fam trips from China and the USA, during spring and autumn, in cooperation with national tourism marketing organizations. Last but not definitely least Visit Arctic Europe project has created extensive marketing co-operation with 12 tour operators in European market areas, co-operation include some 30 fam- and media trips during 2017.
VAE is aimed to market the northern regions of Finland, Sweden and Norway in co-operation with national and regional destination marketing organizations. Partners include Northern Norway Tourist Board, Swedish Lapland Visitor Board and Finnish Lapland Tourist Board, which is also the lead partner of the project. VAE is funded by EU / Interreg Nord -program, the public sector and 90 companies in three countries. Duration of the project is 2,5 years and budget 6,4 million euros.