Destination Watch

Norway’s Fjords: “A-” But Vulnerable

[Above: Geirangerfjord. Photo: Jonathan Tourtellot ]

Would you change this grade? See below, then add your recommendation

Stewardship news on Norway’s Fjords:

GRADE: A-  Why this grade? Representative panelist comments from the National Geographic stewardship surveys:

2009 – World Iconic Destinations:
 “Visiting this region requires a substantial investment by the international tourist, which keeps visitor levels low and allows for a low level of impact. The cruise and expedition ships are highly responsible, acting also as ferries for local people. Local operators and hoteliers are highly dedicated to traditional culture and educating tourists.”

“Environmental quality is at the highest level. Landscape is amazing and aesthetically one of the most beautiful. The icons of Norway are so unique that it is difficult to imagine anything else. The local culture can be seen on the shores and mountains. It gives an ideal overview of well-preserved Norwegian rural life.”

“The short tourist season, rugged terrain, limited population, and inherent sensitivity of the locals to the environment bode well for the fjord region.”

2006 – World Heritage Sites:
“Since this part of Norway was just chosen as a World Heritage site, a visitor management plan is completely lacking, but the scenery is beautiful and the roads to Geiranger are improving.”

“To float into the Geirangerfjord is an astonishingly complete natural experience—steep, lush and rocky canyon walls, endless waterfalls, a snow-capped backdrop and inconceivably deep, emerald green water. There are a wealth of farms, now largely abandoned (Skagefla, Knivsfla and Blomberg) along Geirangerfjord’s banks, one of which is only accessed by climbing a flimsy rope ladder which spans hundreds of meters from the water, along the cliff face, to the farm plateau. Some information on its history is available, but there’s not yet an emphasis on touring there.”

“The West Fjords have sensational scenery, are well-preserved and are clean. The people there are willing and helpful. There are great outdoor activities,

Norwegian Fjords Photo Credit: Andy Beal Photography
Norwegian Fjords. Photo: Andy Beal Photography

and good hotel options and restaurants, but they close rather early! In May-June there’s no feeling of mass tourism, visitors can just take ferries like normal Norwegians going about their business.”

“The presence of the ‘shelf farms’ and human population scattered along this dramatic coastline is unique and wondrous. But is this farming sustainable, and can it continue? Or will the settlements become subject to the pressures of camping and cruise tourism, as some signs (and obtrusive) signage begin to indicate?”

Your Rating

Is this grade fair and up to date? If yes, say so. If no, what do you recommend, and why? Add a comment, considering the destination’s condition in terms of environment, historic preservation, aesthetics, tourism management, cultural and social impacts, and overall trend.


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