[IMG=20934-6769]On September 7th at the B2B workshop organized by the Norwegian Tourism Committee of the Norwegian Embassy, statistics regarding Russian tourist flow to the country was announced. Thus, Paul Larsen, Minister-Counselor of the Embassy of Norway, stated: ‘only in July a number of Russian tourists traveling to Norway increased by 75% comparing to 2005. From January to July this number increased by 80%’.
Norwegian travel market players hope that the tendency will develop in the coming season and that the demand for ski resorts will also increase. ‘We have rates similar to rates of many European resorts. But there is still a stereotype of Norway being an expensive country’, commented Eskil Solberg, Marketing Director of Kvitfjell Ski resort. However, Norwegian and Russian tour operators agree that it will require much effort to increase winter tourist flow from Russia to Norway and to make it a mass-market destination owing the fact that Russian tourists pay attention not only to prices but also to geographical location of ski resorts. Oksana Kamenskaya from Norwegian Department of DSBW, said: ‘Finland is in highest demand of Russian tourists of all Scandinavian ski resorts. Besides, Finnish ski resorts have a lot of Russian-speaking personnel’.
Meanwhile, experts agreed that inexpensive flights could become a first step in attracting Russian tourists to Norwegian resorts. Nevertheless, it involves difficulties too – separate travel market players operate charters during the New Yeaк period. DSBW and Jazz tour repeat the last year program by operating two flights from Moscow to Fagernes – on December 29th and on January 5th. PAC Group in cooperation with Labyrinth plan three Moscow – Oslo flights – December 28th, January 3rd and 10th) operated by a bigger aircraft Boeing – 757 (last year flights were operated by Boeing – 737). Experts say that last year tour operators also intended to fly by Boeing – 757, however, Aeroflot was against a charter to Oslo, therefore, and tour operators had to organize a flight to Fagernes. Fagernes Airport can not accept aircraft with more than 120 passengers on board, therefore the flight was operated by Boeing – 737. At the moment the situation regarding the charter to Oslo is still unclear. Travel market players believe that the situation might be resolved by flight operation by Norwegian Air Shuttle. The Airline has already confirmed its winter time schedule on the route St. Petersburg – Oslo. But flights from Moscow are still questionable. Norwegian market players believe that the problem will be resolved by December. 'If it does not happen, we will face certain difficulties', suggested Jean-Francois Gehin, General Manager of Hafjell. According to experts, operating flights by low-cost airline would allow to reduce prices for tour packages by around 200 Euros. Meanwhile, tour operators feel skeptical towards Norwegian Air Shuttle entering the Moscow market.
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