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Seasonality is the biggest challenge faced by the Nordic tourism industry

A newly published Opportunity Catalogue outlines the biggest challenges for improvement and innovation within the Nordic tourism industry. The catalogue is the result of phase one of the X-Nordic Travel Contest taking place during spring 2023.  

Go to Opportunity Catalogue

The Opportunity Catalogue summarizes insights from six Nordic workshops gathering 152 tourism stakeholders, a cross-Nordic survey of 140 tourism businesses and 18 in-depth qualitative interviews.

The project has identified five key challenges within the Nordic tourism industry:

1. Seasonality: was brought up as a key concern in five out of six workshop countries. The challenge includes economic unsustainability due to the large fluctuations in visitor numbers across different seasons. Retaining workers during the low season and lack of tourism products to encourage year-round tourism were also highlighted as a part of this challenge.

2. Workforce: shortage of qualified workers and limited training opportunities were highlighted as a significant challenge across all the workshop countries. Low wages, poor working conditions and lack of work-life balance are factors making the sector unattractive for potential employees.

3. Shift to sustainable business models: the costs related to transitioning to sustainable business practices was highlighted as the main concern behind this challenge. Operational hurdles, such as allocating time and securing a trained workforce to facilitate the adoption of these models, applicable examples to learn from and proper guidance were specified concerns.

4. Mobility: was highlighted as a key challenge in four out of six workshop countries. Improving transportation across borders and fostering the development of cross-border tourism products were pointed out as places for improvement. Lack of charging points for electric vehicles was also highlighted as a concern hindering green ambitions.

5. Environment: participants highlighted the importance of nature-based tourist destinations to improve management and regulations to protect nature and prevent the overuse and exploitation of marine resources. Difficulties related to promoting local food sourcing and tackling food waste in hotels, restaurants and cruise ships were also emphasized.      

“Summer and winter represent two completely different environmental realities in the high arctics. You have to invent something completely new because the weather conditions are so remarkably different.”

Participant at the X-Nordic Travel Contest workshop.

“Labor is everything! We have two schools and there are not enough students and then we don’t have a workforce. Its bad now and it will be worse in the future.”

Participant at the X-Nordic Travel Contest workshop. 

Go to Opportunity Catalogue

A difficult challenge needs a good solution

Now that the main challenges of the Nordic tourism industry have been identified the next step is to find proper solutions. In October and November 2023, the project will organize Solutions Camps where innovators and start-ups will work on the identified challenges to find industry relevant solutions for a more sustainable and competitive tourism industry.

Emil Geirot, Advisor at Nordic Innovation, is looking forward to follow the upcoming Solutions Camps:

"We are keen to see the results of the planned solution camps. Ultimately, our hope is that the developed solutions can be implemented by the tourism sector across the Nordic region."


The X-Nordic Travel Contest is led by Group NAO in collaboration with Happy42 and Design Nation. The project is funded under the Tourism in the Nordics special initiative aiming to facilitate Nordic cooperation on innovation in the tourism industry, and contribute to a more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable region.

Read more about the project


Hanna Törmänen Innovation Adviser

Hanna Törmänen

Senior Innovation Adviser
Hanna has background in Nordic and international exports, public-private cooperation, project management and market analysis. Her focus at Nordic Innovation is to support Nordic businesses and ecosystems in their transition towards sustainable and circular business models.


Emil Gejrot - Innovation Adviser

Emil Gejrot (paternity leave)

Innovation Adviser
Emil has extensive experience of innovation projects and policy analysis in the Nordic region and beyond. Before joining Nordic Innovation, he worked for a research consultancy where he focused on digital transformation, inclusion, and sustainability. He holds an MA in Transcultural Studies and has lived and worked in Sweden, Norway, the UK, and Germany.