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Text and photo: Sven Furuly
Caravan and Caravan magazine, No. 1 February 2022

Record number of camping nights in 2021

The camping industry can look back on two fantastic years. The 2020 season was characterized by Norwegian visitors who were more or less forced to choose Norway as their holiday country. Last year, the foreign tourists were back, but Norwegians are in the majority.

After the pandemic shutdown in Norway in March 2020, few could imagine how long it would last, and what economic consequences it would have for the camping industry. Many caravan and motorhome importers reacted by taking both measures to save money and canceling orders when both the traditional Easter and the subsequent start of the season did not happen. But already at Pentecost times things began to change little by little. It became increasingly obvious that there would continue to be strict travel restrictions abroad, and thus Norway became more relevant as a holiday destination than in many years.

Infection control measures at the campsites

Many Norwegian camping companies are members of NHO Reiseliv, an important umbrella organization for the entire tourism industry in Norway. When the first signs that society was going to open up to travel and holiday development in Norway in the summer of 2020, NHO Reiseliv was quick to prepare an industry guide for infection control measures at campsites. After the guidelines and guide came into place, the camping industry has loyally followed them, and guests have perceived the campsites as safe accommodation facilities. By following the infection prevention measures in the guide, it is ensured that the companies follow all statutory guidelines, and make the operation of the campsites as safe as possible for both employees and guests. It was precisely this responsibility for the pandemic challenges that Norwegians quickly realized that a Norwegian holiday with a caravan or motor home would be both a safe and good holiday alternative.

Good insight into our travel habits

There are approximately 950 campsites in Norway. These are distributed throughout the country, and vary from small sites with a simple standard to large facilities with various service and sanitary buildings, as well as the possibility of emptying the septic tank and connection to both electricity and Wi-Fi. Of these campsites, 932 are subject to statistics, and thus help to give us a good picture of travel habits and the development of the camping industry, in the same way as hotels and other accommodation. In the last seven years, there has been steady growth, with 2016 and 2019 being two distinct peak years. As many as 7,5 million overnight stays were registered on campsites, in tents, caravans, mobile homes or camping cabins in 2019. This naturally created great excitement as to how the pandemic year 2020 was going to develop for the many companies we find within the camping industry.

A surprisingly good year

The summer of 2020 got off to a good start, and if we compare the accommodation figures for July, they were 40% higher than the previous year. At the same time, a look back shows that many campsites had almost exclusively Norwegians as holidaymakers in 2020. Many Norwegians purchased their first motorhome in 2020, but overall sales still decreased in 2020 compared to the previous year. 2001 new motorhomes were registered on Norwegian roads, which was a failure of 6,4%. Much of the decline is due to the manufacturers having to introduce corona measures that reduced the production rate, as well as the fact that many subcontractors to the industry were given longer delivery times. This resulted in a shortage of motorhomes in the Norwegian market. However, sales of used caravans and mobile homes were large - and help to explain the good visitor numbers at Norwegian campsites in 2020.

Great excitement ahead of the 2021 season.

Few people would have thought that the corona pandemic would last into 2021. A look back at motorhome sales in 2021 clearly shows the problems manufacturers have had with their deliveries. The statistics from the Road Traffic Information Council (OFV) show that only 1734 new motorhomes were registered in the whole of 2021. That is a failure of a whopping 13,3% compared to 2020. Thus, three "lean years" are a fact, and we have to go back to the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 to see growth in the market. In 2018, motorhome sales were more than 2500 units, and these differences in imports and sales represent an annual sales shortfall of more than NOK one billion. Missing deliveries from the manufacturers, a sharp price increase and an unfortunate exchange rate trend are the overall reasons for the major failure in sales.

The foreigners returned.

For the campsites, 2021 was a good year. In July, which has the largest number of overnight stays in the year, a new Norwegian record was set. For the first time, more than 3 million overnight stays at Norwegian campsites were recorded in one month. A look back shows that Norwegians made up nearly 90% of the guests, but that 2021 was also the year when foreigners began to return to Norway on holiday. Many campsite owners strongly believe that camping will only increase in popularity among Norwegians in the years to come. Many young people in particular have really opened their eyes to this form of holiday. Close contact with nature, short-distance food and drink, as well as simple logistics and planning, make camping holidays attractive. We are crossing our fingers for continued growth and many good experiences in 2022.

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