Hotel room bookings are up and cruise ships are calling more frequently at Oslo’s harbour, but the amount these visitors are spending is rapidly declining. Americans have traditionally been big spenders in Norway, but a weak dollar has given them reason to pause.
Duty-free sales in Oslo are down 10 per cent over the first half of this year compared with 2007. American tourists particularly stand out as they have been spending only half as much on souvenirs as they used to. The weakened dollar is blamed for change in spending.
“For the first time since 1985 Americans are no longer the most free spending visitors. Both the Russians and the Germans are buying more. Since Americans have been so important to the tourist industry in Oslo, a decline of this kind could have big consequences,” says Sissel Guleng, the market director for Global Refund in Norway.
Travellers from the US are having second thoughts once the Norwegian prices are converted to dollars. As a result, they are opting to buy inexpensive trinkets like key-rings or magnets. Oslo shopkeepers have begun putting more effort into attracting tourists from Eastern Europe by hiring staff that can speak Russian and stocking items that cater to European tastes.