Market Overview

    Yr/Yr % Chg
Visitors to California (2014) * 268,000 11.2%
Visitor Spending (2014) ** $479 million 7.9%
California Market Share (2014) 20.7% -
Average Length of Stay - nights (2013) 12.3 -
Weekly Non-Stop Flights (2015) 12 15.3%
Weekly Non-Stop Seats (2015) 3,140 16.6%
2015 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 277,000 4.9%
2018 Visitation Forecast (% change vs. 2014) 314,000 18.9%

Source: Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, CIC Research, Tourism Economics, OAG

* Visitor volumes: The U.S. Department of Commerce started to count one-night visitors in 2014. This change inflated Yr/Yr visitation gains compared to previous years but delivers a more accurate picture of total visitation.

** Visitor spending: The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis made changes to their methodology in 2014 to include spending by students, temporary workers, and people traveling for reasons related to their health. Although this change increased total travelers, some Yr/Yr declines in spending per visitor have been seen which are more likely related to the gaining strength of the US dollar vs. foreign currencies in the 4th quarter of 2014.


International Markets

The Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland have seen an increase of travel to the United States and, in particular, California. Outbound travel is rising in these markets as their economies grow — with an above-average standard of living, residents enjoy six weeks of annual vacation.

Special-interest tourism is steadily increasing in Scandinavia. The worldwide foodie movement has awakened Scandinavians’ interest in culinary travel, and California is particularly high on the list of destinations to visit. In addition, outdoor sports and city breaks are increasingly of interest, which a California vacation is well-suited to provide.

Airlines are confirming the rising interest in travel to California by increasing airlift. In 2014, 268,000 visitors, 20.7 percent of the U.S. market share, spent $479 million in California. Visitor numbers have steadily increased since 2008. Compared to other overseas markets, Scandinavians have a high 12.3 nights of average stay in 2013.


All four economies are stepping out of the downturn. The global outlook for 2015 remains positive. The non-affiliation with the Euro has reduced the risk of the Euro Zone’s current fate for Denmark, Sweden and especially Norway due to oil reserves and domestic demand. Also, all four governments keep a strict eye on the financial situations and implement reforms to control fluctuations. The political situation in Russia has had somewhat of an impact in Finland, but overall new export markets are developed and the situation will not have a critical impact on the region.

Only Finland has adopted the Euro while the other countries maintain their own local currency, though Denmark follows a fixed exchange rate vis-á-vis the Euro. Therefore the uncertainties surrounding the Euro are not likely to have a direct effect on the Scandinavian exchange rates or economy.

The economic model of the Nordic countries, characterized by relatively low public debt, active labor markets, high taxation and welfare has helped them weather the social consequences of the economic downturn. The unemployment rate in the region has largely stabilized and is even decreasing with an average unemployment rate of 6.3 percent – one of the lowest in the European Union with an average unemployment rate of 11.4 percent as of January 2015.


Increased competition in direct routes between Scandinavia and California are likely to lower ticket prices, which will increase visitor numbers.

  • Norwegian Air Shuttle’s new routes opened in spring 2014 and are running successfully with strong load factors and along with SAS’ direct route from Copenhagen to SFO, which started in 2013, visitor numbers to the state are expected to significantly increase further.
  • KLM/Air France and British Airways has increased service through London, Amsterdam and Paris all easily accessible feeder airports for the Scandinavian traveler.

Travel Trends

  • Demand in luxury travel, specifically for 4-5 star accommodation and high interest in wellness and spa vacations.
  • Sports travel, both as an athlete or a spectator (running, cycling, climbing – extreme sports). American sports are increasingly popular for Scandinavians.
  • Technology is part of the travel experience, including using social media, with Facebook as the most popular platform.
  • Online Travel Agencies taking over as the market leader for travel bookings.
  • Culinary experiences, wine tastings at vineyards, visits to artisanal microbreweries, farm-to-table/sea-to-table increasing interest based on the trends of the highly acclaimed Nordic kitchen.
  • Rise in baby boomer visitors, with a high disposable income, good health and a taste for adventure and travelling, these “empty nesters” will travel further.
  • Focus on new, up and coming destinations
  • California is already a well-known roundtrip destination but with the increased direct air routes as well as the inspiration from new movies such as “Wild” and “Uprising Valley” are stimulating the interest for traveling off the beaten track

Market Strategies


  • Increasing agent educational development through training, including the Online Training Program and promoting California Expert as a sales tool.
  • Supporting media FAMS, media pitches and newsletter distribution across the Nordic region.
  • Partnering with the airline carriers on new launch FAMs for trade and media.
  • Participation in Discover America’s extensive, region-wide programming and events are key year-long activities.
  • As a multi-country and multi-language market, an overarching strategy is to be a cohesive California go-to resource with a strong market presence for trade and media.



  • Scandinavians generally look for authentic destinations that their neighbor hasn’t yet visited, so “new destinations” are increasingly pushed while keeping “mature destinations” top of mind for first-time visitors.
  • Continue support and partnership with the established network carriers.
  • Advocate through partnerships with the three major airports, new routes and expanded seat capacity from existing network carriers.
  • Continued focus on individual and group media and agent FAM trips with airline partners. An emphasis will be given to top and pillar-aligned media influencers in the Nordic region.
  • Continued push for increased completion of the Online Training Program through incentives, expanded travel trade education in secondary cities, enhanced California product portfolio of tour operators and engagement in targeted online coops highlighting our brand pillars.
  • Fueling media outlets with pillar-specific media stories and pitches, hosting media events and PR stunts, and localizing digital media resources will complement the trade initiatives and further expand Visit California’s earned media program in this market.


2015/2016 Plan Highlights

Trade and PR plan highlights in the expanded budget environment will include:

  • Increased focus on training the travel trade – both online and offline through online training program and FAM trips.
  • Work with stakeholders to increase airline routes and seats.
  • Increase number of FAMs, both group and individual, for both travel trade and media.
  • Increase pitches to broadcast media to expand coverage across the region
  • Expand reach of Dream Big aspirational messaging using media influencers.
  • Co-ops with Online Travel Agencies to increase the California brand online.
  • Participate in Discover America events across the region for travel trade and media.
  • Co-ops with innovative partners that align with the experience pillars.
  • Establish footprint on incentive group travel.
  • Increase engagement with in-market tourism partners to leverage joint initiatives.


Karin Gert Nielsen
Managing Director
John Migliorini
Director of Sales & Marketing
Leva Zelca
Marketing Manager
Anna Vieth
Communications Consultant
Atlantic Link
Phone: 45 29421005
Thank you to our Golden State Sponsors:
MeringCarson Time Inc