Lofoten is one of the most popular tourist attraction in all of Norway, but the insane popularity has lead to some disputes between the tourism industry and locals.
The hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the islands every year leads to problems with waste, need for maintenance on trails and public areas, and the need to hire a lot of people to help out with keeping the place pristine.
As you can expect, all this cost a lot of money, most of which is paid by the municipalities on the island group.
The group Destinasjon Lofoten (Destination Lofoten) has proposed a tourism tax to help cover all these tourism related costs, and hope to implement this as a fee for everyone who visits Lofoten. It’s still a proposal, so it might not happen.
The tourism tax is currently only a proposal, but it seems likely that it will be implemented in one form or another.
Lofoten already has restrictions in place to reduce the impact from tourism
Lofoten has had problems with tourism for a long time, and have begun to look for alternatives to make the tourism more sustainable in the last few years. This included implementing a camping ban on certain parts of the islands to reduce how many people would camp on or close to the beaches.
Some of the other issues Lofoten has been having the last ten years are:
- Waste from people who don’t take their trash with them.
- Human waste from people who take a dump outside in nature.
- Noise pollution from the huge gatherings of people.
- Damage to hike trails due to heavy use.
- Overcrowded roads, leading to traffic problems in the entire region.
- Cars parked in non-parking spots that lead to problems.
The big problem is that Lofoten does not really have the infrastructure to house such a large number of tourists, and someone has to pay for these things to be upgraded and improved.
The problem is that Lofoten islands only houses around 25,000 inhabitants, so it’s not like the municipalities get a lot of public founding. The region really needs to find a method to finance the tourism services they provide, which is why they have proposed this tourism tax.
Would you be willing to pay to enter the Lofoten islands?
The big question is how this tax will affect tourists who plan on travelling to Lofoten. It is still not known how big the fee to enter Lofoten will be, what type of payment it will be, or if everyone has to pay the same, so no one can really predict how this will affect the tourism to the islands.
What we do know is that Lofoten need infrastructural upgrades if it is going to keep having such a huge amount of tourists every year, and they need some method of financing it.
The group behind the suggestion believes that it won’t really affect the tourism at all, and they expect most people to be willing to pay a certain amount of money to enter the island group.
Some of the proposed methods of collecting the tourism tax is to have a type of toll booth that sends a bill to every car that enters the Lofoten islands, but giving the permanent residents a payment exception.
Other methods could be to have increased parking rates, a simple entrance ticket that everyone needs to pay before they can enter the island group, or a flat tax for cars and buses.
The money from the tourism tax is proposed to be put to a regional fund with cleat guidelines for what they can spend the money on. This means that the tax money will eventually be put back into improving the region.
We have yet to see what the result will be, but we will keep you updated whenever we know more. It seems unlikely that any change will come already in 2022 since the season is approaching fast, but the tourism tax could probably be in place for the 2023 season.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.