Figures from the accommodation statistics show that there were approximately 27.1 million at in Norway in 2021. The number of guest nights in 2020 was 23.7 million.

Despite the increase compared to 2020, this level was still much lower than before the pandemic started. The number of guest nights in 2021 decreased by 23 per cent compared to 2019. Hotels were hardest hit, where a third of guest nights are still absent. The last time Statistics Norway recorded as few guest nights at hotels during a year, was back in 2004.

Figure 1. Hotel guest nights 2004-2021

Increased guest nights driven by Norwegians

Guest nights at hotels rose by 11 per cent from 2020 to 2021, while those at camping sites and increased by 15 and 35 per cent respectively. As foreign guest nights in total remained largely unchanged from 2020, the Norwegian guest nights, which increased by 17 per cent, caused the total increase from 2020.

During July in 2021, there were over 6 million Norwegian guest nights in. This was the highest number ever recorded by Statistics Norway for Norwegian guest nights in a single month. We also saw monthly records for Norwegian guest nights at hotels for August and October, attributed to fewer restrictions on social distancing and events during this period.

Despite these records, guest nights were still low compared to pre-pandemic years. Increased Norwegian guest nights did not compensate for the absence of foreigners. Guest nights at accounted for 2 per cent of all guest nights in 2021, down from 4 per cent in 2020. Normally, this market has more guest nights from visitors outside of Norway but in 2021, 7 in 10 guest nights were Norwegian.

Regional differences

Guest nights increased across all counties last year compared to 2020. The largest increases were in Svalbard and Oslo, counties hardest hit in 2020, by 22 and 31 per cent respectively. Increase in Norwegian guest nights was highest in these two counties. Foreign guest nights increased the most in Trøndelag and Møre og Romsdal counties.

Figure 2. Guest nights by county. Change in per cent compared to 2020

Foreign guest nights three times higher in December

The tourism industry had a good start in December before the outbreak of the omicron variant led to new coronavirus restrictions. Foreign guest nights tripled in December 2021 compared to December 2020, which was also characterized by restrictions. Foreign guest nights at holiday dwellings and youth hostels were over six times higher, while those at camping sites and hotels more than doubled compared to the same month in 2020.

Norwegian guest nights increased by 31 per cent from December 2020 to December 2021, mainly because of a 40 per cent increase at hotels. There was a minor decrease for camping sites and a 14 percent increase for holiday dwellings and youth hostels.

A quarter of all guest nights remained absent compared to December 2019.

The Government introduced new travel restrictions on 13th December 2021. The quarantine hotel program was extended for travelers and others without suitable accommodation. For more information, see the government’s webpage.

In accordance with Eurostat, quarantine hotels are not included in the accommodation statistics even when there is economic activity at the hotel. Quarantine guest nights cannot be assigned by purpose as holiday, occupation or course, conference. It was not possible to extract all quarantine guest nights and some stays at quarantine hotels are included in the statistics for December. Hotels that are exclusively quarantine hotels are not included in the statistics.