As of January 27, 2022, non-EU travellers visiting Norway no longer need to quarantine for ten days. This announcement is pivotal for Norway’s cruise sector, famed for world-class river cruises and luxurious voyages amongst the Norwegian fjords. With tourism now open to a global market once more, the Nordic country can look forward to a more hopeful year within its cruise industry.

Tourists from the US will have a significant impact on recovery

With outbound travel restrictions easing in the US, the Norwegian cruise industry can look forward to inviting its largest source market outside of Europe once again. Cruise lines operating in the region will become hopeful of achieving similar numbers to pre-pandemic levels over the next few years. In 2019, more than 524,000 tourists from the US visited Norway, constituting approximately 64% of trips from non-Europeans, according to GlobalData’s Tourism Demands and Flows Database. Furthermore, research from trade association CLIA (Cruise Lines Industry Association) states that 130,000 of these tourists travelled on cruises in Norway, highlighting the significance of the US market on the cruise sector.

US cruise tourists are also high spenders who contribute much-needed income to cruises in Norway and the broader Norwegian tourism economy through activities and excursions. GlobalData also reports in its Traveler Spending Patterns database that US tourists’ average international tourist spending is the third-highest globally, behind Australia and New Zealand. This statistic included spending on food, entertainment and sightseeing on trips which are an essential part of the cruising experience. While other source markets such as China and Japan make up strong numbers for Norway’s inbound tourism industry, focus on the US market is essential for recovery, as Zero-Covid strategies in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region continue to disrupt outbound tourist activity.

Demand for cruises remains strong despite the pandemic

Although the cruise industry has slumped in recent years, there was an uptick in 2021 due to easing travel restrictions. Cruise passengers increased 96% YoY (Year-on-Year) in 2021, according to CLIA, which is around 52% of pre-pandemic levels. While the industry continues to face complex challenges, consumer sentiment to cruising is warming. According to a GlobalData 2021 Q3 Global Consumer Survey, 17% of respondents said they typically take a cruise holiday – 2% higher than when respondents were asked the same question in 2019.

Naturally, the challenge for the industry is navigating through the differing travel restrictions, as many cruises generally include multiple stops in different countries. However, as Norwegian cruises typically only involve one country, the logistics are more straightforward, creating peace of mind for the traveller. Ultimately, this could be a key selling point while the pandemic continues to be poignant within the industry, adding to the cautious optimism around the Norwegian cruise industry.

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