Use your network: Have you connected with the right people?

For many starting a sustainable business activity it may seem that you have to do it all yourself. But rest assured. You are not alone. There are most probably many in your area to learn from and to cooperate with. Pooling your resources is most often to everybody’s advantage. You just have to connect. As the Nordhordland team found out when they sought help and support from our local tourist board in the nearest town, Bergen.

Photo: Heidi J. Mongstad. Padletour rundt Radöy.

In theory it is easy. You know that if you start a holiday rental, it will be advantageous if somebody in your area are doing guided tours or have bicycles or canoes for rent. But in practise many who are engaged in sustainable tourism have to focus on doing their own brochures, newsletters or websites. Through the SHAPE project we have discovered the advantage of connecting with partners in other countries, but in Nordhordland we have also managed to mobilise local resources and have gotten a lot of support from the regional tourist board.

From local to regional development

Nordhordland wants more tourists, the town of Bergen, which is only a half hour away, has too many. The regional tourist board VisitBergen was therefore more than willing to help when they were contacted by the Nordhordland SHAPE team. They have allocated time and resources to help lift the local initiatives to a regional level. This has been most apparent in developing “The wool route” – a structured travel route encompassing many activities based on traditional sheep farming: visits to local sheep farms and wool workshops, learning about cutting wool, knitting, weaving and sowing. Starting in 2019 “The wool route” will be a new experience offered to all tourists visiting Western Norway every year.

They have the knowledge and the resources

Things are changing fast when it comes to visitor’s preferences. The tourist board are on top of the trends and know what the tourist are searching for – which just now happens to be what Nordhordland may offer: meeting people, experiencing nature and local culture. – For Nordhordland it would have been very difficult to do this alone. – With the help of the people in the tourist board and using their infrastructure we can be up and running in less than a year.

Market and marketing access

Developing local tourism is a long-term project. Many make decisions about what to do during their holiday months in advance. That is when you have to catch their attention. Which is not easy if you are a small or a new business. Using established marketing tools makes things very much easier. – Through the cooperation with the tourist board we reach not only individual travellers, but maybe more important tour operators who have a vested interest in helping their clients find the place of their dreams. – We of course hope that Nordhordland will be that place…