The latest trends and consumer sentiments in Nordic travel and tourism
October 1st, 2021, Hoang Nguyen

The latest trends and consumer sentiments in Nordic travel and tourism

A new webinar hosted by YouGov’s Global Sector Head of Travel and Tourism Eva Stewart looks at travel trends in the Nordics over the summer and what travel marketers can expect of future travel to and from the region.

YouGov’s Nordic Travel and Tourism webinar also analyzes key perceptions of barriers toward travel, the types of travel Nordic consumers are considering, and inbound travel demand for the Nordic region from around the world.

General travel sentiment in the Nordics

YouGov data from Global Travel Profiles reveals that domestic travel demand remained steady in the Nordics throughout May (57%), June (56%) and July (54%) but took a small dip in August (50%), giving way to more interest to travel internationally as we approached late summer.

Demand for international holidays rose by five points, from an average of 39% in June and July to 44% in August. Increased interest in travelling abroad coincided with the Nordic region’s vaccine rollouts, coupled with the easing of restrictions around Europe and the introduction of the Europe-wide EU Digital COVID Certificate which allowed certificate holders to travel freely though Europe.

Nordic trends

The data uncovers three major trends in Nordic travel sentiment, especially as it relates to travel obstacles:

  • Falling concern over health risks
    • Concern over travel-related health risks decreased over the summer but at a slower rate than in other key markets. Between May and August, the share of consumers in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden who said they were not travelling due to health risks fell by 11 points from 48% to 37%. By August, Nordic consumers were still more likely to view health risks as a travel obstacle than consumers in the UK (33%) or the US (34%).
  • Travel restrictions as much a barrier as health concerns
    • Nordic consumers were less likely to see travel restrictions as an obstacle toward travel as summer progressed. Several countries in Europe opened their borders for outbound and inbound travel over the summer and this decline in concern about restrictions reflects this.

      It’s still a major factor though and, in August, nearly as many in the Nordic region consider these restrictions (36%) as a travel obstacle as those who say health risks (37%) are stopping them travelling.
  • Concerns about cost increased
    • Price sensitivities increased over the summer and were felt especially keenly by Swedish consumers. Concern over the cost of travel in the Nordics rose from 16% in May to 21% in August.

      The data reveals variation by individual Nordic markets, with the highest rate of concern over the price of travel between May through August held by consumers in Finland (22%) compared to those in Sweden (20%), Norway (18%) and Denmark (13%).

Nordic consumers are delaying travel, but it doesn’t mean they’re not eager for it

When asked about their intent to book overseas travel, Norwegian (29%) and Danish (24%) consumers are the most likely to say they are delaying booking future travel due to COVID-19. Roughly a fifth of Swedish and Finnish consumers say they are also delaying any travel purchases for reasons relating to the pandemic (19% and 17%, respectively).

This is not necessarily indicative of low excitement for travel. Instead, YouGov data reveals there is pent-up demand for travel across the Nordics.

More than two in five Nordic consumers agree they can’t wait to go on a vacation or overseas holiday once the Covid-19 pandemic has ended (41%). This eagerness to travel proves pervasive across all age groups aside from those 55 and over (32%).

Looking at travel desires at the country level, Danes are the keenest to travel internationally (51%) followed by Norwegians (45%).

What types of travel people are people looking forward to most?

It’s clear that Nordic consumers want to travel and understanding what they want from their trips can help travel marketers prepare for the demand.

The need to relax plays a major role in Nordic desires to travel abroad, especially among Finnish consumer (53% vs. 47% of Nordic consumers). People also want to return to their favourite destinations and Norwegians stand out for their desire to go back to destinations they liked or loved (44% vs. 35%).

Lastly, aspirational travel is another significant motivator in why people will travel internationally. Over a third of Nordic consumers say travelling to a destination they’ve always wanted to visit will be one of the reasons why they intend to take a trip abroad.

Who’s considering travelling to the Nordic region?

Data from YouGov DestinationIndex – which tracks perceptions of the top destinations around the world on a daily basis – shows there’s strong inbound demand for Nordic countries from key markets:

  • US: While travellers from the US are currently banned from most Nordic destinations, Iceland welcomes them. In fact, one in ten American travellers would considering travelling to the land of fire and ice in the next 12 months (10%).

  • Germany: Consideration for Denmark (7%), Norway (7%), Sweden (7%), Finland (5%), and Iceland (5%) among German travellers varied month-to-month during the summer. Whereas German consideration for travel to Denmark peaked in June, consideration for Norway and Sweden peaked in late summer. This emphasizes how critical it is to be able to track and monitor events that influence opinions of a destination from key source markets.

  • UK: Iceland (12%) and Norway (12%) ranked highest in consideration among British consumers followed by Sweden (11%), Denmark (11%) and Finland (8%). A close look at demand for Iceland reveals it’s mainly overrepresented among millennial Brits in high income households and couples who live together. Those currently considering travel to Iceland tend to be customers of airlines such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa, and Scandinavia Airline (SAS).