INTERVIEW WITH KRISTIAN JØRGENSEN, CEO OF FJORD TOURS
In conjunction with the launch of Kildn, we asked the CEO of the Fjord Tours Group, Kristian Jørgensen, to share his thoughts on the project and what he has seen so far.
Your many years’ experience from the tourism industry make you something of an expert on tourism. What is your initial reaction to this presentation?
“I have to say I’m incredibly impressed. Just imagine what such an exciting, big and groundbreaking project would do for Bergen, Western Norway and even Norway, for that matter. I really believe in it.
But these are strange times we’re living in. The tourism industry is in crisis, at least in the short term, on account of coronavirus and everything that is going on.”
What is your outlook for the future?
“Tourism will probably take a year or two to get back on its feet. But looking further ahead, there will be massive growth in tourism. Only seven percent of Chinese people have a passport so far. That will rise to 25 percent in the next 5-6 years. Right there you have the world’s biggest market of tourists. Tourism is the world’s biggest industry, and it will also see the strongest growth over the coming years. The coronavirus crisis will act as a slight break on growth, but that will be recouped within two or three years.”
But will the future look different?
“I think there will be a paradigm shift in expectations for the tourism industry. We will need to change how we think, particularly in two areas. I believe that many destinations will choose to tackle head on the dilemmas they have faced with respect to overtourism. For example, Venice has said that it will not necessarily receive cruise ships in the same way as in the past, but I also think that tourism will be required to become much more environmentally friendly. The industry currently generates around eight percent of the world’s emissions, and that will rise to 15 percent in the future.”
People are saying that things will change after the coronavirus crisis.
How does the project we are looking at here fit into that – into your future outlook?
“I think it delivers on the two areas I’ve mentioned. It offers a model where tourists, and particularly those involved in what has been defined as overtourism, arrive at a hub outside the city, where you can control capacity in a completely different manner and meet the concerns of people living in the city to a greater extent, balancing their needs against those of the tourists.
And it will also create the opportunity to take tourists straight out into the fjords using more environmentally friendly forms of transport – boats powered by hydrogen, ammonia or electricity – without needing to travel from the cities to the fjords. So I feel this is a modern, forward-looking approach to tourism that is capable of meeting future requirements and building up the critical mass needed for this to be profitable.”