Spotlight High–Low Coast’s project management group made a study visit in October to the Vega Archipelago, one of the Nordic World Heritage Sites. The archipelago was elected a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, a few years before the Kvarken Archipelago and four years after the High Coast. The archipelago consists of over 6000 islands of different sizes. The main island, Vega, is connected by ferries to various places on the Norwegian mainland.
During the visit, Spotlight’s representatives and people working with the Vega World Heritage Site exchanged experiences and ideas and talked about potential future forms of cooperation.
“We found that we share many similar tourism-related challenges, the biggest one concerning the difficulty of lengthening the seasons,” states Mr Peter Källberg, member of Spotlight’s project management group from VASEK.
The Vega archipelago’s World Heritage Site status has positively affected the increase in visitor numbers. One of the main reasons to visit the islands is fishing tourism, and many entrepreneurs have their cottages fully booked for the 2017 season from April to the end of September. The archipelago currently works hard to attract fishing tourists even in the winter – a feat that it has partly succeeded in. For instance, a large group of English fishermen will arrive to the islands in the coming winter.
The Vega Archipelago incorporates sustainable development into all its tourism-related activities, meaning that it wishes to offer tourists experiences in a way that does not burden the environment.
“It was very interesting to hear about debates regarding a possible upper limit for tourist numbers in the archipelago. Instead of a larger number of tourists, growth is pursued by developing the activities so that they entice the visitors to stay longer,” explains Ms Marianne Sjöström, Spotlight High–Low Coast’s Project Manager.
Many local businesses depend on various investment aids, and e.g. Innovation Norway has actively supported good business ideas.