How to Sell Scandinavia

This week, two representatives of Scandinavia's tourism scene stopped by Travel Agent's New York offices: Walter DeMirici, project manager for travel trade with Scandinavian Tourist Boards; and Helenea Niskanen, the marketing representative for Visit Finland and the president of Scandinavian Tourism, Inc. The two came by to share some updates on how the different countries within Scandinavia are working together to promote the region as a whole with a campaign and a partnership with an event in Washington, D.C.

In conjunction with the Kennedy Center’s Nordic Cool 2013 Festival in Washington D.C., the Scandinavian Tourist Boards (VisitDenmark, Visit Finland, Innovation Norway, and Visit Sweden) along with the Nordic Council of Ministers are launching a new "Nordic Cool" campaign geared to create greater awareness of Scandinavia through cultural trivia.

The campaign will have two components: a social media element through Facebook with a dedicated website as well as an outdoor advertising campaign in the Washington D.C area with facts about Scandinavia geared to grab the public’s attention in the capital’s metro and public buses throughout the length of the festival. The dedicated site also aims to entice visitors to travel to the region providing them with an opportunity to collect "Only in Scandinavia" moments. 

And then there's that partnership: Scandinavian culture will be on display at the Nordic Cool 2013 performing arts festival, which will celebrate Nordic dance and theater as well as music, film and literature. Nordic Cool 2013 is being held at The Kennedy center through March 17. The festival’s complete program is available at:

Scandinavia is easily accessible from major U.S. cities and from most of the East Coast, getting there isn’t much longer than a transcontinental flight within the United States. The region’s highly integrated infrastructure also makes it easy to travel within Scandinavia by air, rail or ferry. It is very easy to combine two or three of Scandinavia’s capitals or a city and nature and adventure options in one trip.

About the Region

VisitDenmark, Visit Finland, Innovation Norway, and Visit Sweden are the official tourist boards for their respective countries. They are responsible for promoting tourism to Scandinavia as well as Scandinavian travel products in the North American market. They sometimes cooperate on joint marketing initiatives under the umbrella of Scandinavian Tourist Boards.

Kiskanen and DeMirici shared a few key points on how to sell the region, and what clients may not know. For example, English is widely spoken throughout the region—in fact, even many taxi drivers will speak fluent English and understand exactly where their American passengers need to go. The region has 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as a highly developed infrastructure in terms of airports, trains, ferries, roads and even bike lanes in major cities. (In some, bicycles are more prevalent on roads than cars are. Also, the air in those cities is much cleaner. Funny how those go hand-in-hand…) For longer-distance excursions or day-trips, ACP Rail offers rail connections throughout Scandinavia.

The Scandinavian Tourist Boards can help travel agents facilitate contacts with Scandinavian products and suppliers and provide assistance with logistical support. Inbound operators such as Borealis Destination Management or Arctic Adventures offer programs that cover the entire region. Support Materials can include travel directories, newsletters with the latest information on travel trade news from the region, and more. The Boards also provide destination training and product development as well as annual B2B workshops that connect US buyers with Scandinavian suppliers. The new website is a dedicated resource for the travel trade.

New Flights to Scandinavia

SAS will launch San Francisco-to-Scandinavia service starting April 8 this year, with nonstop SFO – Copenhagen trips and and easy connections to the rest of Scandinavia from SAS’ CPH hub. The flights will operate six days per week on an A340 aircraft. SAS will also boost operations from Newark starting April 1, offering 10 weekly nonstop departures to Copenhagen (with 2 daily flights on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays), in addition to their daily nonstop flights to Oslo and Stockholm. Meanwhile, Norwegian Air Shuttle, a low-cost carrier, has announced its first long-haul operations including flights from New York JFK to Oslo, starting May 30, and Stockholm, effective May 31. These flights were originally announced to use the 787 Dreamliner, but with the recent grounding of those planes, the airline will simply use a different model rather than postpone the flight launch. Flights will start operating twice weekly and will go up to three times per week in late June. Connections will be available to all of Scandinavia at Oslo and Stockholm.