1Historically the sea was the transport “road” and places along the coast were the most accessible ones. Norway is a country with a very long coastline and many fjords and islands are situated along this cost. This means that areas accessible with some sort of harbor have always been the “hubs” for tourists or other travelers. This paper aim to describe how tourism in the coastal areas has been developed by using a part of coastal Norway, mostly the Southern part of Nordland county, as a case.
2Accessibility is the key word for tourism development in coastal areas. During the finalizing stage of this article the Norwegian television (NRK) is presenting its longest lasting direct TV program ever. They are following the Coastal Express (Hurtigruten) every minute on a trip from Bergen to Kirkenes lasting five and a half day. This has been an enormous success by viewing numbers of vievers (http://www.nrk.no/hurtigruten/). For Norwegians, and many other visitors, this route has been a tourism success for more than a century now.
3For local tourism providers along the Norwegian coastline, however, also other types of transport innovations have played important roles in the development of the tourism products as they appear today.
4In a route based tourism system (Flognfeldt, 2005) coastal and archipelago areas will be more difficult to access for many potential tourism groups than travelling on a land surface area with roads and railways. Such areas, however, might have many natural and cultural attractive elements that make the areas very suitable for route based tourism. Norway is a country with a very long and spectacular coastline and parts of this coast have been attractive for recreation based tourism for a couple of centuries now.
5This article is focusing on how new types of travel have helped changing the tourism products and what challenges the introduction of new ways of transport might give to the tourism product development in an area. Parts of the coastline of Nordland County will be the description area for this study on transport innovations and tourism development (figure 2).
6For Norwegians the name of our country was originally based on a route – “the way to the North” – and this route was not a built one but using of the coast-line itself. As long as the boats and ships were the main means of travel this coastal way – named either “Nor-way, Nor-vegir, Norge or Nor-wegen” - was the main communication basis for most people living along the coast. This shipping route was previous mostly used for transport of goods, mainly fish, to the markets and basic necessities back to the area. But even in the much less accessible interior of the country, water, namely rivers and lakes were the main structures for communication. The lakes were most efficient for transport during the cold winters, by sledges on the frozen surfaces.
Figure 1. The travel route of viking Ottar of Hålogaland, the first one to name the country Norway (Norvegir)
7As early as at the end of the first millennium AD, there are descriptions of the travel of the viking chief Ottar who visited the court of King Arthur in England and then went all the way to Northern Russia by his Viking ships (see figure 1). Some historians tell that this was the origin of the name of the country that a hundred years later was organized under the name of Norway. There are, however, many other explanations of the naming, but all indicate that this route northwards was the background.
8Bringing cargo, mostly seafood like split cod, stick fish or salted herrings, to the international markets and taking imported food or spices in return was the origin of the transport systems. Being a passenger on such a freight boat either sailing South or North along the coast was the way of transport for centuries, and access periods was mainly dated to the season for bringing fish products to the Bergen markets where these fish products, mostly dried or salted, were sold to international markets. Later a system of passenger routes was organized, more or less locally. But small family owned fishing boats were also used for passenger transport.
9The first commercial improvements in connection with modern tourism was the introduction of a systematic and daily ship communication route – Hurtigruten – the coastal steamer or “Coastal Express”, which is now the correct translation. This has been both a main communication system and a tourist attraction from 1893 on. Though the need for this shipping route has changes throughout that period, from being the cargo transport artery, giving locals and national travelers their best and most efficient travel, to more being an attraction for those having time and money enough to spend, the Hurtigruten might be regarded as the basic transport system for Western and Northern Norway. Even though the cargo part of Hurtigruten is still important for many small and larger harbors and their surroundings, attraction based visitors are most important today.
10It is interesting for a Norwegian to observe that a comprehensive textbook of “Transport and Tourism” with a subtitle of “Global Perspectives” the author Stephen Page (2009) does not mention this coastal tourism route system. Hurtigruten starts at Bergen, in Norway, the country closest to Scotland where the author is living. But this might be an example of the English term “global” meaning “anglo-global” in a way. Similar railroad systems, like the Orient Express and others are mentioned – mostly due to its start in London?
11The World War II and thus the German occupation of Norway meant many “improvements” in transport infrastructure – especially land based ones. A new airport was built in Bodø and the basic roads and railways were extended northwards. Much of this work was done by Prisoners of War (POWs) mainly from Eastern and South Eastern Europe. This might today be regarded as a way of “slavery work” – and many died during this struggle for life. The result, however, was an improved access both by train and car which made the interior parts of Nordland County south of Bodø much more accessible (map figure 2).
12After the War these routes and railways were improved and extended. This was also the introduction of better machinery for work, meaning that the workforce god better conditions and improved work welfare. Combined by the fact that from 1960 on the need of license to buy a car was taken away meant a shift from ship access to road and rail access. But it did not mean that the coast line view from sea lost its attraction values.
13Still during the 1960ies the speed of transport within the area was slow. The tourism markets were located far away and air access to Bodø was very expensive. In addition this was a period of migration from the rural areas to the towns and cities in Southern Norway – and, such a migration in Norway meant the migrants wanted a trip home at least twice a year. To make such access easier and quicker a system of STOL (Short –Take-Off-and-Landing) aircrafts and airports were introduced (figure 2). After some years 5-6 new smaller airport were built and access by Twin Otters was introduced. This meant a shortening of traveling time.
14What did then happening at the coastal shores? There was a complicated system of access. This meant some local roads and many local boat routes or car ferries and that you had to have a very good knowledge to really make your itineraries (Storrusten, 1994). In addition the harbors of the Coastal Express and the airports were important nodes in this structure. But what was lacking? An additional road to the interior E-6 passing through the coastal areas was planned. Most of this road system did exist, but a running system of subsidized car ferries had to be added.
Figure 2. An overview of the route area examined. The two roads Rv 17 Coastal Highway and E 6 Interior highway; the airports and the harbors of the Coastal Express are indicated.
Source: Brochure from the Coastal Highway company 2010
15The Coastal Highway from Steinkjer along the coast north to Bodø was established, first just as a “road-and-car-ferry-system” but later also as a tourism “experience route”. In addition to roads itself many tunnels have been built often to shorten the distances between fjords and villages, but more and more also for traveling safety reasons since the beauty of the landscape mean steep slopes with many possible avalanches both based on snow melting and heavy rainfall.
16Innovation in transport means new challenges for the coastal regions
17Transport is and will always be an important part of any tourism experience. There are, however, few studies examining such dependencies. What might the innovations of transport and the tourism development be based on?
Introducing new types of boats and ships – amenities on board and at the harbor areas will in addition be important
Improving or relocation of harbors – both the entering conditions and the locations
Introduction of new roads, and thus also access of the use of buses/coaches and cars and, in connection with this, setting up a comprehensive system of car ferries
Introduction of a main railway system – along with means of travel to reach areas of natural beauty and activity challenges
Introduction of aircraft – first sea based landing, then larger often, military based airports and later “short-take-off-and-landing”-airport with smaller aircraft as Twin Otter
The system of car ferries and new roads built were improved by building a fair amount of road tunnels
Recreational roads like “biking highways” – which are based on existing infrastructure
Today is the challenge not that much on transport and access but more to organize a touristic route system – the Coastal Highway – which is also a very important marketing tool.
18For many products will a combination of different means of transport be the best solution, especially for those visitors not bringing their own transport means. In addition will speed be an important factor, both for (global) access but also for the time customers spend during their visit to the area. Studies along the Coastal Highway route 1998 shows that those traveling the coast connected route spend up to four times more days along that rout compared to the main highway North E-6 which is a quick carrier highway (Flognfeldt and Nordgreen, 2000).
19All these improvements in transport and access could be discussed more in-depth. For the analysis in this article, however, only two will be focused on here – the Coastal Express and the Coastal Highway. Examining those two give us opportunities to view the coastal nature at different angels and levels. Also a combination of both could be a solid travel alternative.
20Even though this daily scheduled boat system has been on the rout for more than a Century Hurtigruten has, however, by economic measurements never been a success in the way that the transport could be commercially viable, so some governmental subsidies have been a part the financing during whole period of 120 years. Like in previous times, bringing cargo to the harbors along the coast and local passengers a convenient way of travel, were the reasons for national subsidies.
21The commercial tourism development in these areas started early. More than a hundred years ago, 1893, a very large and important transport project was launched – Hurtigruten – or “the coastal steamer”. This daily and all- year-around combined cargo and passenger ship route from Bergen to Kirkenes was for years the backbone for the accessibility of coastal and northern Norway. This “success story” – also branded as the “most pretty sea-route in the world” - has lasted for more than a hundred years, but one might admit that the costs of operating have been heavily subsidized during the last decades. Still the daily departures from Bergen to Kirkenes and back again, are kept alive. Viewing the plateau named North Cape from the sea (Birkeland 2002) was one of the most important highlights of such a journey, but the landscape and shores are continuously changing during the trip which means new attractions close to everywhere and every time.
22Since the summer season means either Midnight Sun when you are North of the Artic Circle or long days for the rest of the route, this trip is always mentioned by those asked what were their most remarkable journey. But changes in the offers of transport to and within this region have meant new possibilities of presenting attractions to tourists. Since this paper will be on how changes in transport modes will open possibilities for new attractions and accessibility of new space along this “way to the North, Hurtigruten is very important.
23The main attraction for the visitors of Hurtigruten in the international tourism markets will, in addition to the beautiful and ever changing coastline itself, be the North Cape plateau. For many visitors the trip up to the North Cape has been the final destination of their coastal trips in Norway. Birkeland (2002 and 2005) present the history of North Cape connected to the life at Hurtigruten in the introductory chapters of her work on gender and tourism experiences. Jacobsen (1997) also adds insight into the North Cape visits. This article, however, is about the tourism development of a coastal area not focusing on a single destination as North Cape, but in the coastal area itself.
24Even though Hurtigruten still play an important part in the tourism strategies of coastal Norway other improvements in transport services have to be regarded. When new means of transport took over most of the non-recreational traffic, however, sea, lakes and rivers in many ways became obstacles instead of being the prime communication means. These changes gave the government and others transporters new challenges. In the sailing period up to the end of the eighteen hundreds, boats and harbors were the investment focus and sailors were recruited in every community from the age of 15. This meant that in a remote area at the Arctic Circle there were plenty of people who have been sailing around most of the world and could easily be hosts of visitors since they had some knowledge of other languages.
25The harbors served by the Coastal Express in our study area will be Rørvik, Brønnøysund, Sandnessjøen, Nesna, Ørnes and Bodø (figure 2). Most of these harbours are small townships with a few thousand inhabitants. Only Bodø could be regarded as a main city. The duration of this part of the trip will be about 16 hour, included staying at the harbors. The southward trip is in daytime while the northward one is partly during night. But during the most popular season, summer, much of the night travel is during the time of midnight sunshine since the Artic Circle is passed during this stage of the trip.
26As told in the introduction most of the cases explained will be from the part of Norway named Kystriksvegen – “the Coastal Route”, but some cases close to this route will also be included. (Referanse fra Bøker om):
Inn med minst et par avsnitt her.
27The main focus will be on the work of organization “Kystriksvegen Reiseliv AS” In a summing up of their development, they state:
... that the company have been working with these challenges for close to two decades. What have their successes and obstacles been and how have they been able to operate a sustainable business on a long coastal route with many car ferries, small islands, fjords and mountains and more than twenty municipalities. (http://www.rv17.no.)
28Transport is and will always be an important part of any tourism experience. There are three types of innovations or product development challenges to examine in this article. Firstly transport as access to the region. Secondly the development of local transport within the region. Finally, tourism product development, not only dependent on access, but more often on ways of utilizing local resources, mainly natural scenery and local coastal culture. Together those factors have enhanced the tourism products provided the visitors very much.
29What might the primary innovations based on “improving access to the region transport” mean?
Introducing new types of boats and ships – from Viking ships and modern high speed catamarans.
Improving or relocation of harbors – an ongoing improvement challenge
Introduction of roads, buses and cars – especially from the 1960’s on. A century ago there were very few roads, since the sea was the “road” for most transport.
Introduction of a main railway system – mainly happening during the WWI and 1950’s. The rail road from Trondeheim to Bodø is mostly using the interior parts of Nordland county, and thus “avoiding” the coastal landscape.
Introduction of aircraft and a system of local airports – first sea based landing, then larger often military based airports and later “short-take-off-and-landing”-airport with smaller aircraft as Twin Otter
Later on car ferries and new roads built with a fair amount of road tunnels – the basis of this is not the use for tourists, but sending cargo and widening the local access to jobs by easier communing
Establishing recreational roads like the Coastal Highway and local “biking highways”. The Northern part of Kystriksvegen is now a dedicated “National Tourist Route” and a part of a Nation Scenic Road strategy (http://www.nasjonaleturistveger.no/en)
As mentioned before the challenge now will as much to organize a touristic route system – the Coastal Highway tourism provision system.
30Today the use of new means of transport are dominating the tourism development all over Norway, and investment are mostly focused as much on building better roads, tunnels both through mountains and under the fjords, bridges and railroads as much as on sea transport. In addition, a series of airports have been built to satisfy both the need of locals and tourists, and new hotels and other units of accommodation are built.
31Till now this article has mostly focused on “how to develop and market these beautiful coastal areas to travelers using either their own cars, bikes, boats or collective transport”. But other questions of access to space or new land have also been mentioned. A final discussion on what types of geographical units are suited for marketing and developing such areas and how might local producers of accommodation, food & beverages, crafts, activities and arts be included in such organizations.
32It is important to examine the access to the areas from outside. As important for tourism development will the development of inter-regional accessibility be. How far could you reach within specified time frames, like:
A short stay 1-3 hours at the harbor of the Costal Express
An overnight stay at a local accommodation unit along the road
A week of biking in the outer archipelago of Helgeland
A week mountain hike of glaciers and hiking paths
33Even such an enhanced accessibility has only been possible to develop due to improvement both on roads, tunnels, local boat routes and possibilities of renting bikes or fishing boats. Figure 3 is an attempt to show how historically improvement in local access makes it possible to access new areas in the coastal hinterland or in the coastal archipelagoes. Each numbered area means that the access has been improved to reach farther out on the island in the archipelago or to the mountains and valleys in the interior of Nordland county.
Figure 3. How tourists’ accessibility has spread into a fjord landscape after different periods of improved local transport/access.
34Figure 3 might be interpreted in two different ways. Firstly, as indicated above it could illustrate the area of access in different time zones from the harbor like “how long you might have a guided tour for the passengers of the Coastal express”. Secondly, one might see how the access to inland/ fjordland areas or islands in the archipelago has changed through different stages of time or due to access development like new boat routes, roads or tunnels. Thus changes in travelling patterns in the future might even mean changes in the areas on some tourism markets:
35Questions tourism product developers have to ask might then be:
What will an extension to an hour more in the harbor X mean for establishing new tourism products in the hinterland?
What will a new road access or tunnel mean to that hinterland? Some times better access also means “quicker passing by”.
What will reduced travel time to Northern Norway, like direct airline routes from European capitals to either Trondheim or Bodø mean on the speciality markets like biking or sea fishing?
36Such questions have been important to discuss all over Norway, but especially the development of tourism in the chosen a part of the Norwegian coast line – Kystriksvegen.
37To illustrate this accessibility a little bit further I have been using a part of a figure by Miossec (1976 based on Pearce (1987) with some comments to the actual Kystriksvegen case:
Figure 4. Historical development of transport and tourism behavior
Source: Based on Miossec (1976) from Pearce (1987)
38The model of Miossec has been adapted to the local situation by this author (right part of figure 4). The actual phases could be discussed more in-depth by adding some more historical ones. Even if the phases below are nine instead of four – the history is the same.
39Phases of transport and product development along the Coastal Highway part of Nordland county, Norway. This area will also include the interior as far as to the border to Sweden (see figure 2):
Medieval times to end of 1800’s: Freight boats bringing fish south to Bergen and necessary merchandise plus persons in return
End of 1800’s: Hurtigruta – the Coastal Steamer (later the Coastal Express) – still an important connector, though the ships are different now.
World War II: Railroad building especially by the German military power - from Trondheim to Fauske mostly by prisoners of war from Balkan and Soviet Union After WWII: The Norwegian government continued the rail extension to Bodø – and the airport at Bodø expanded as a base for NATO controlling the Northern part of the Atlantic.
Post war: Expansion more on the local infrastructure establishing bus lines,and many road ferries plus improving roads.
1960’s: Many new small airports – Mo, Mosjøen, Sandnessjøen, Brønnøysund, Namsos - all using Twin Otters and later Dash 8s for frequent transport. In addition Norwegians got their private cars- 1970’s until now: Road improvement, first along the E6 (the interior part of Nordland County later also in the coastal areas.
1990ies until now: Kystriksvegen – developing the coastal route. At first only for transport – since early 1990’s also as a tourist route
In the 2000nds: The inscription of Vega Archipelago as World Heritage Site meant more on the international market (World Heritage Sites in Norway 2011).
40These transport and access improvements have had effect on the tourism products in different ways. We must be looking closer to each of those. A present day map of the archipelago part of region will include most transport structures of ferries and local boat routes (Figure 5). These routes are accessible for bikes and motorbikes, and mostly also for cars.
41Modeling regional or resort tourism development should always include a historical dimension. In addition, access and trends in product development are very important to examine. Access has two meanings: First the access to the area, and when visiting also the access to different areas in the surrounding of the site visited. The last element might be described as “length if visit” or simply as time. Trends in development might include the rapid growing use of recreational bikes for family travel.
42Our study area also has many landscape obstacles which on one side is reducing accessibility, but also is enhancing the landscape as beauty elements. It might be described as “islands and fjords, steep mountain slopes, lack of harbor possibilities and glaciers or snow and ice cover” during much of the year. In addition comes the dark period during the winter since parts of our area are located north of the Artic Circle. Half of this area is north of the Circle.
43Historically this meant that most experiences either had to been based on viewing from sea, staying at the few harbors with permanent habitation or hiking and hunting within walking distances from those harbors. For the few visitors adding some recreational experiences to their commercial or administrative purposes of the visit this was not a problem. Access to what they wanted to see or do was to be found very close to the dwelling areas.
44The basis for living in these areas, harvesting the sea and some agriculture and hunting, however, gave room for an expanding habitation. This meant that the resources beyond the previously utilized ones have to be explored and developed. First of all, that exploration was primary for local inhabitant’s use. But locals living at the coast were, in opposition to those few living “inland”, continuously in contact with visitors both from Norway and abroad. Some of these visitors demanded more than just a meal and a bed when they were staying in this beautiful and thrilling landscape.
45The challenges of local product development based on the present situation will thus be:
46Either to look at the present patterns of travel and adjust to the present knowledge of activity behavior. This means to see if the visitors of today are lacking some products or have ideas of new products
47Or, to widen the area of accessibility and see if there are existing products the that might get more customers if we either:
Extend the time of staying in the area
Improve the local access
Or, combine those two efforts.
48One attempt of this was in the late 1990ies to introduce and further develop a system of island hopping by bike”. Until then the area had not been suitable for every type of biking holiday. The new product was either based on bringing your own bike or hiring one. There are plenty of small islands that are connected by local boating routes (see figures 5 and 6). To organize such a biking product meant to make a time limit access ticket (like one week) available for using all those boat routes and also local buses. Then the bikers could go small stretches on those islands and relax on a local boat. Some of the packages also include accommodation.
Figure 5. Biking at one of the many islands along the Coastal Highway of Nordland, Norway
49The second largest glacier on the European mainland, Svartisen, is located down to the coast in this area. This is a similar system of mountain or glacier hiking in combination with boat routes has been introduced. In these cases the access to and from the mountain or glacier areas do not have enough customers for making permanent scheduled routes, so an “pre-ordering of transport system” might be the solution. This might either be a pre trip ordering or by using your mobile phones on arrival to selected sports.
Figure 6. The coastal route has many car ferry parts) – in addition there are many local freights-and-car boats pout to the islands and into the fjords
50The World Heritage listed archipelago of “the Vega islands” is also a part of this coast (figure 6). The visit to the archipelago itself is a great tour, but a more specific guided tour is to visit the Eider Duck farming at Lånan, described in the brochure as:
Discover the remote island of Lånan – the largest egg and eiderdown farm in Helgeland. Scheduled boat trips in the summer season. In 2004 Lånan was included in UNESCO’s prestigious list of World Heritage sites.”
51If you are lucky you might also be offered the hard work of picking eider downs along with the family that owns the farm and has the rights of bringing a few tourists along every spring. This trip will be in the area number 4 in figure 3.
52Even local food production like stockfish production or a more specific site like Hildur’s Herbgarden (Hildurs Urterarium) have their position in this product. There are also many fish farms in these fjords mainly producing farmed salmon. Some of those could be visited.
53Developing new products is one part of the tourism development process. Another challenge has been to use the system of car ferries as an information basis. The trips on ferry boats along the Coastal Highway are lasting from half an hour up to two hours. In addition comes a period of waiting for entry which might be lasting up to a couple of hours.
54This means that there are plenty of times available for giving out information. Students have been offered a job as a “Ferry host”. This means that they are strolling around on the car ferries and could approach the travelers by asking: “Do you need some information about activities or accommodation”? Then they are able either to hand out brochures or even helping to book those activities directly. Studies have proven that these services are highly appreciated, but there are problems of covering the costs of the salaries of those ferry hosts – shall they be paid by the travellers (added coasts) or by the producers (provision)?
55In this area the outer shores or archipelagoes the challenges have “always” been to provide accessibility as long as there was a good condition for establishing a safe harbor. The “touristic” activities, however, were mainly concentrated on the area just in the environment of the harbor or where a local small boat might be able to bring your. In addition to viewing nature, salmon and trout fishing and autumn hunting were the prime activities. Since both rivers for fishing and hunting areas could be found in the closer environment, the need of other than boat transport was not there.
56In the description of different development phases developers might focus on the following items to find a market:
Access to the area from outside and also access within the area
General tourism behavior – is there “new” products that could easily be adopted into the region – like “bike hopping”
Business/administration travel – the small airports with frequent daily access and many nice surroundings are a good start for personal managed lodges within the smaller meetings markets (up to 30 persons)
Recreational travel – based on nature like hiking, biking, boating and sport fishing
Main tourism products – still the viewing of nature, mostly from ship decks or the windows of your car or camper vans
Area or land use – design of harbors and recreation facilities.
57This paper was presented in a coastal and island tourism conference at Martinique. Some of the content was not presented in that paper. It is based on the discussion that followed. Caribia is different for coastal Norway due to many large and small islands belonging to different nations and administrative systems. The transport access are mostly from cruises and visits by using airlines. Regular passenger ship routes are not covering much more than the trip from one island to another. Of course each area has to be examined systematically due to markets and accessibility. But in my opinion some lessons could be learned from what have been happening in coastal Norway.
58First of all it is important to look at the activity production possibilities on each island and ask – are there tourism attractions which we are missing market for today due to transport access or the length of stay for each visitor group? Would another transport system make it easier for such tourists to visit parts of our island which are not accessible during the time frames of for example cruise passengers?
59Is it possible o make it easier for those who want a longer roundtrip in the area including for example 3 -4 islands to come to Caribia, or do they still have to be designing their trip on their own including different ship routes and air carriers. By examining the web pages such a co-operation are at present not working together at all.
60Maybe some of the experiences from developing tourism along the long coastal areas in Norway could be transferred to Caribia, but the challenges of co-operation between different island belong to different nations will be large.