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Scandinavia Market Profile

The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark constitute a small but important market for California. With six weeks of paid vacation annually, Scandinavians are heavily incentivized to explore the rest of the world. Their proximity to the many Eurasian getaways, coupled with a growing resistance to air travel due to sustainability concerns, are barriers to any overseas visits. Still, Scandinavians are responsible for approximately more than half a billion in travel spending dollars annually. Data updated as of February 2020.

Market Profile

$661 Million
Preliminary Visitor Spending, 2019
$735 Million*
Forecasted Visitor Spending, 2023
*Reflects pre-coronavirus forecast.
Market Share (U.S. Spend), 2018

Travel & Planning

Airlift (2019)

  • 27 weekly nonstop flights
  • 7,500 weekly nonstop seats
  • 3 entry points (Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco)


  • Average planning timeframe: 4 to 5 months
  • Average booking timeframe: 3 to 4 months
  • The booking period is shortening as Scandinavians are becoming more spontaneous, deciding timing and destination at the last minute
  • Many Scandinavians belong to the money-rich, time-poor segment and prefer to travel multiple times a year
  • Consumers are favoring online booking over going through traditional tour operators
  • Peak travel months: June–September

Visitor Characteristics

Sought-After Travel Experiences

  • Rural: Scandinavians seek road trips to off-the-beaten-path destinations for an authentic experience.
  • Instagram-worthy experiences: Picturesque moments are important for Generation Z travelers.
  • Sustainability: Travelers are increasingly concerned about the impact they are making on the environment and on the local population.

How to reach Scandinavian Travelers

  • Social Media
  • Digital Media
  • Travel Trade

Market Conditions

The Nordic economies have held up. GDP grew +1.7% in Scandinavia and Finland in 2019 and is forecasted to grow by a moderate +1.2% in 2020. Inflation was +1.7% in 2019 and is predicted to decrease by -0.5% in 2020. The unemployment rate has decreased slightly, from 5.5% in 2018 to 5.3% in 2019, and is forecasted to stay stable in 2020.

Scandinavian travelers stay longer and spend more than most other international visitors. They receive five to six weeks of paid vacation and 12 paid public holidays annually. Vacation is highly prioritized among young and old generations and traveling has become a basic good rather than a luxury. Even in times of consumer uncertainty, the amount of vacations booked continues to increase.

Competitive Landscape

California’s key long-haul competitors include: Thailand, Australia, Canada, Columbia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina and Peru. The South American and Asian air routes have increased in seat capacity, particularly from Emirates and Turkish Airlines, with a very favorable price point.

There are new routes being added from Helsinki to LAX, increasing the opportunity for travelers to choose California. In 2019, Norwegian Airlines had to reshuffle flight routes due to a shortage of planes, but it is expected that in summer of 2020 the Oslo–LAX route will be reintroduced.

Due to warmer summers, staycations have increased significantly. “Flight shaming,” the Greta Thunberg effect and a volatile Swedish krona have also impacted travel patterns, primarily in Sweden.


  • Nordic Market Report
  • DIIO
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis, NTTO, Dean Runyan, Tourism Economics
  • U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office, “Survey of International Air Travelers”, CIC Research