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1 Dutch hiking tourism Terje Rakke/Nordic life - Visitnorway.com

2 Index Chapter page Executive summary 3 1 Introduction 4 2 The Dutch hiking segment 5 3 Mapping Phase I 6 4 Survey Phase II: Selection and general background information Demand trend Operators target group Offered destinations in Norway Presence in other markets Choice of accommodation Willingness to pay How to succeed as a good hiking destination Which countries is there demand for? Which destinations are considered in the top echelon for hiking? What are the challenges facing Norway? Marketing 9 5 Summary 10 Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

3 Executive Summary At the beginning of 2012, Innovation Norway in Oslo informed Innovation Norway in Den Haag about the Hjemhentingsprosjekt. The aim of the project was to learn more about the Dutch hiking market by obtaining more information about Dutch tour operators, (internet) networks, hiking organisations and hiking and outdoor magazines. The project was divided into two parts. The first part consisted of internet-based research aimed at acquiring information about the above topics. After the tour operators had been defined, eight were selected for further research about Dutch hikers. Most of the tour operators saw a decrease in demand for hiking trips/ trips to Norway. This research shows what makes Norway such a well-loved destination and it also points out what needs extra attention. Norwegian nature is the main reason why Dutch people go hiking in Norway. On the other hand, Norway is an expensive country for the Dutch, and tour operators find it hard to make good cost-quality deals with Norwegian suppliers. The huge distances that it is sometimes necessary to travel in order to reach the final destination are another problem for tour operators. Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

4 1. Introduction The Hjemhentingsprosjekt was carried out by Innovation Norway s offices in Oslo and Den Haag (The Hague). The target group for the project consists of Dutch people with a special interest in hiking. The project was completed in two phases: Mapping Phase 1 was conducted on the basis of existing knowledge from Innovation Norway hiking projects and research on the internet. The following themes were identified in Phase 1: - Tour operators offering hiking tours - Top websites / forums about hiking - Hiking / outdoor magazines - (Membership) organisations for people who are interested in outdoor activities and / or travelling Mapping Phase 2 consisted of a questionnaire survey conducted by phone and/or in which we spoke to eight selected tour operators. The operators were a mixture of already well-known operators and more unknown operators. The interviews were conducted in September and October As a result of the survey and this report, the reader will hopefully gain a better understanding and knowledge of the Dutch hiking market. Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

5 2. The Dutch hiking segment In the first half of 2012, Innovation Norway conducted research on the target group Dutch hikers. The following results are based on that research and desk research. More than six million Dutch people state that they go walking/hiking regularly. Of this group 3.2 million people usually walk in cities, 850,000 participate in long distance hikes and 330,000 go on multiple-day hiking trips abroad, says Wandelplatform LAW. The following geographical, demographic and socioeconomic factors emerged during the research that Innovation Norway Den Haag carried out in the first half of going hiking are to relax (85%), because it is healthy (66%) and to explore nature (53%). In research conducted by De Vos & Jansen (2011, for Rootz), it emerged that people s favourite places for walking and hiking are woodland/forests (31%), the beach (16%) and the mountains (15%). The favourite time of year for hiking is in spring (46%) because of the weather conditions. Norway comes sixth on the list of hiking holiday destinations considered by Dutch people (IPSOS marketing for Innovation Norway, 2012). Geographical factors The twelve Dutch provinces can be divided into four groups: north, south, east and west. The following figures show the distribution of hikers in the four parts of the Netherlands. Most hikers, 57%, come from the west of the Netherlands (Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland and Utrecht), while 20% come from the south (Zeeland, Noord-Brabant and Limburg), 14% from the east (Overijssel, Gelderland and Flevoland) and 9% from the north (Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe) Demographic factors The gender distribution among Dutch hikers is 50% men and 50% women. Most people prefer to go hiking with their partner (66%) or with friends (19%). The following figures show the age distribution for Dutch hikers in general. The biggest group of Dutch hikers who go on hiking trips to Norway are between 50 and 65 years old (55%). It also emerged from the research that 50% of Dutch people who go to Norway do so by car, 33% by train and 17% by plane. The most important reasons for Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

6 3. Mapping Phase I The first mapping phase is based on findings on the internet relating to the predefined questions within the themes mentioned in the introduction. - Tour operators offering hiking tours Using the internet, we have identified 40 tour operators that offer hiking trips and/or trips to Norway. In this process, we looked inter alia at their focus, target group, destinations, whether they offer different activities in Norway. - Top websites / forums about hiking Nineteen websites and forums for nature lovers, active hikers and mountain sports were identified. The level of difficulty of the hiking trips they offer, the costs of advertising and the number of viewers per month/year were noted. - Hiking / outdoor magazines Seventeen hiking/outdoor magazines from the Netherlands and/or Belgium were identified. It was noted whether the magazines had a separate hiking section, what characteristics they had, how often they were published and their price. The magazine that is most read by Dutch hikers is Te Voet magazine (37.2%). - (Membership) organisations for people who are interested in outdoor activities and/or travelling Three (membership) organisations were identified in the Netherlands. The biggest organisation is the NKBV (Royal Hiking sport organisation) which has 60,000 members. It was noted whether the organisations organise annual events, whether they have a magazine for members, whether they use tour operators and whether they organise hiking trips themselves. Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

7 4. Survey Phase II: Selection and general background information Forty tour operators were identified in the first Mapping Phase. Some of them organised general hiking trips, while others were specialised in Northern Europe and/or Norway. Of these 40, we have chosen eight to take part in in-depth interviews, taking into account that not all of them are specialised in Norway or Northern Europe Demand trend Demand for hiking trips has decreased a little, stated 75% of the tour operators, while 25% saw an increase in demand of hiking trips. Of the eight tour operators we have interviewed, three tour operators offer hiking trips to Norway. One used to offer hiking trips but, because of the decrease in demand, it only offers other trips to Norway nowadays. Two of the tour operators offer general or combined (hiking/biking/cultural) trips to Norway. The reason for the decrease is because of the high prices in Norway and because the tour operators who used to offer (hiking) trips to Norway were unable get the deals they wanted to keep the cost affordable and interesting for their target group Operators target group The target group of the tour operators mainly consists of Dutch tourists. Some of them are also active in Belgium. The target group can be described as: - Active couples from the age of 45 - They have higher education, most with a degree in science or applied science. - The customers have older children who often already live on their own. - The customers want to have a lifelong experience when it comes to hiking in Norway, because they believe it is a once in a lifetime experience to go there Offered destinations in Norway Five out of eight tour operators offer trips to Norway (three of them hiking trips). The most offered destinations are Lapland/Northern Norway, Espendalen, Jotumheimen and Rondane because of their outstanding scenery. Northern Norway is mostly offered in winter because of the Northern Lights. Trips are also offered through Norway and Sweden, sometimes also through Finland or Denmark. They usually take place in summer and take a few weeks Presence in other markets Three of the eight respondents have offices and/or marketing activities in other markets. All three are active in the Belgium market (mostly the Flemish part of Belgium) Choice of accommodation Accommodation preferences are divided in the Dutch market; 75% of the market prefers to stay in hotels because comfort is becoming more and more important for customers (especially the 55+ age group). The hotels do not have to be very luxurious, but people want their own bedroom and bathroom. Huts and cabins are also popular among Dutch people, especially with groups of friends and families, while 25% still prefer camping, mainly because it is more adventurous, but also because the costs are usually lower. People also prefer their accommodation to be near to the hiking area or to have beautiful surroundings. Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

8 4.06 Willingness to pay Most tour operators offer complete packages, and they found it difficult to answer what was important enough for their customers that they would be willing to pay extra for. We asked the tour operators about people s willingness to pay for accommodation, (rental) equipment, food, guiding and for the tour operator s experience. Accommodation None of the tour operators said that customers are willing to pay more (high) for accommodation, while 66.7% said there is moderate willingness to pay more for accommodation, and 33.3% said there is low willing ness to pay more for accommodation. People are only willing to pay extra if the accommodation has a spa or if it is a green hotel. (Rental) Equipment Sixty per cent of the tour operators say there is moderate willingness to pay more for rental equipment because people often expect it to be included in trips or because they have the equipment themselves. It was only when they booked extra activities that they were willing to pay for equipment, for example when they went fishing as an extra activity (boat and maps). Food Almost all the trips include breakfast and sometimes lunch during excursions and/or organised trips (a lot of Dutch people just take extra bread at breakfast and eat it for lunch when lunch is not included). What people very much appreciate are recommendations for nice places to have dinner, especially places serving traditional food; 60% have a moderate willingness to pay more for food. Guiding The Dutch are not willing to pay more for guides. Most of them travel in groups of two persons and an average guide costs around 100 euros per day in Norway. People would rather spend that on food or beverages. On group tours, guiding is almost always included. The tour operator s experience This really depends on the tour operator itself. Tour operators like Askja reizen are known for their experience and trips that really deliver what they promise. Customers are also more willing to pay extra for tour operators that are specialised in Norway and/or the Nordic countries and have experience and knowledge of the area How to succeed as a good hiking destination The factors a destination needs to be successful as a hiking destination are: - Nature, Dutch customers go hiking to explore nature and to enjoy it. - Good hiking trails and maps. Because the target group are aged from 40/45 years and older, there need to be good visible trails to hike on. The route has to be clearly visible to the hikers. - Infrastructure is important because a lot of Dutch people still prefer to come by car if this is possible Which countries is there demand for? According to the tour operators, the most popular hiking destinations among Dutch customers are countries in the Mediterranean area. Many Dutch people go there in spring and autumn to go hiking because the temperature is perfect for hiking then. In summer, the Dutch prefer to go to Austria or the Scandinavian countries. The research done by De Vos en Jansen shows that the most popular European destinations to go hiking in are Norway (27%), France (25%) and Austria (18%). However, this does not mean that the people who find Norway the best hiking destination actually go there. Fewer than 50% of those who say that Norway is the best destination have been there or will actually go there. The reason why they think Norway is a perfect hiking destination is because of Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

9 the image Norway has as a country full of nature, friendly people, with space for everyone and where there is a chance you will not even see people when hiking Which destinations are considered to be in the top echelon for hiking? The destinations that were mentioned most by the respondents are: - Italy (the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre) - France - Austria - Norway and Sweden - Great Britain - Azores and Madeira 4.10 What are the challenges facing Norway? - All tour operators that have trips to Norway say it is a challenge to find good package deals, especially when it comes to getting the right price. - Another challenge is organising trips to areas that are easy to get to. The maximum time it can take to travel from the customer s house in the Netherlands to the final destination in Norway is one day. - Two tour operators said they sometimes had problems communicating with the Norwegians. Their English is usually perfect but it sometimes takes more than a day for them to answer. respondents have Twitter, and they use it to communicate on their website as well. Two respondents use YouTube to show customers videos featuring footage from round trips they have been on (also videos made by the tour operators themselves) and videos of destinations (made by the destinations themselves or from another source). Half of the respondents advertise in print magazines. These magazines are usually about holidays, activities or destinations. Six of the eight respondents go to fairs to meet customers and take time to talk to each customer individually. The fairs that are most visited by the respondents are the Vakantiebeurs (a holiday and destinations fair), the 50+ beurs (this fair is intended for people who are 50 years old and upwards) and the Fiets- en Wandelbeurs (this fair is for people with a specific interest in hiking and in biking in the Netherlands and abroad) Marketing All the tour operators say that their main marketing tool is their own website and their own catalogues. In addition to these tools, more tour operators have started using social media as a marketing tool. All the respondents use Facebook, two of them have it but do not communicate with it on their website. Five Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

10 5. Summary The average (active) Dutch hiker is between 50 and 65 years old, is well educated and usually has older kids who have already left home. They have a good salary and want to enjoy life and experience the beauty of nature. They mostly go on a holiday with their partner. Even though a lot of people see Norway as their ideal hiking destination, bookings are low and there is a clear decrease in demand. Some tour operators have already removed Norway from their portfolios due to the high costs and difficulties with getting the right package for the amount of money Dutch people are willing to pay for a hiking trip. Besides, hiking tourists want to enjoy different sporting and cultural activities. Tour operators therefore have to be able to offer (this can also be know-how about activities instead of the actual activities themselves) other kind of activities in addition to hiking. Dutch Hiking Tourism Innovation Norway,

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