.Photo: Shutterstock, Lubomir Chudoba

The research project BIOTOUR, From place-based natural resources to value-added experiences: Tourism in the new bioeconomy, analyzed the key conditions for the future development of nature-based tourism in Norway. The Research Council of Norway financed the project from 2016 to 2021. It was organized into five integrated work packages: Nature-based tourism in the Norwegian bio-economy, resource and product analyses, market analyses, tourism actors and management, and innovative tourism solutions. Fieldwork and data collection were done internationally, nationally, and regionally in Varanger, Trysil, and Hardanger. 

01 Jan 2016 - 31 Dec 2021

The Research Council of Norway

About the project

  • The background for BIOTOUR was that nature-based tourism is changing significantly, among other things as a result of globalization trends and the introduction of new technology. These changes create greater diversity and new opportunities.

    This requires more knowledge about resources and resource use, demand structures, market and market-adapted products, entrepreneurship and management.

    The overall hypothesis for BIOTOUR was that an integrated approach to nature-based tourism (including resources, market and management analyses) would form the basis for business development, robust local communities and sustainable resource use.

    Twenty-four researchers (including four PhD candidates and two postdoctoral researchers) from five Norwegian and four international universities and research institutes contributed to the BIOTOUR project, along with five partners from the tourism industry: NHO Tourism, Hanen, The Norwegian Farmer's association, The Norwegian Tourism association and Innovation Norway.

  • BIOTOUR is an interdisciplinary project lasting from 2016 to 2020. It will come to an end at the MMV-conference at Lillehammer 16-19 August 2021

    BIOTOUR is funded by the Norwegian Research council through the BIONÆR-program, which will contribute to research to promote sustainability, business development and profitability within the land-based bio-industries.

    24 scientists from five Norwegian and four foreign universities and institutes, and five business partners contribute in BIOTOUR.

    The project is lead by professor Peter Fredman. BIOTOUR is managed by the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in co-operation with; the Centre for Rural Research, the Institute of Transport Economics, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, and Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.

    There are four international partners:

    • European Tourism Research Institute (ETOUR) at Mid-Sweden University,
    • Natural Resources Institute Finland,
    • University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland and
    • Oregon State University, USA.

    Output from the project, including doctor dissertations, peer-reviewed publications and conferences, will contribute to strengthen the Norwegian nature-based tourism sector.

    BIOTOUR is implemented in cooperation with NHO Reiseliv, Hanen, Norwegian Farmers Union, the Norwegian Trekking Association, and Innovation Norway.

  • Themes and case studies

    Scientifically, BIOTOUR provides new knowledge with respect to

    (i) Nature-based tourism in the Norwegian bio-economy (sector analyses, social change, trends, servicescape, community resilience);

    (ii) Resource and product analyses (modelling of risk-of-resource depletion, landscape resource analysis);

    (iii) Market analyses (integrated products, segments);

    (iv) Tourism actors and management (motivations, profitability, growth potentials, management and interaction); and

    (v) Innovative tourism solutions (packaged products, new technology, knowledge driven entrepreneurship).

    The project focuses on four case study themes of significance to the Norwegian NBT sector:adventure, wildlife, trails and events

    Some of the research is focused at three case study areas:

    • Varanger
    • Trysil 
    • Hardanger

Work packages

  • How can nature-based tourism be linked to the Norwegian bio-economy?

    This WP will elaborate tourism’s contribution to the Norwegian bio-economy, understood as sustainable transformation of renewable biological resources into industrial products. 

    In this respect, tourism is a double-edged industry, and the research will critically assess its dynamics in the wider environmental, social and economic policies.

    The industry’s contributions to various social public goods, local economies and sustainable local communities is similarly relevant in this broader understanding of the bio-economy.

    WP 1 approaches tourism in the Norwegian bio-economy in four different ways;

    (i) analysis of NTB supply structure,
    (ii) analysis of social change and trends,
    (iii) analysis of the NBT servicescape and
    (iv) community resilience.

  • How can we make sustainable use of the resource base for nature-based tourism?

    There are several challenges related to the resource base for nature-based tourism. The objective of this WP is to better understand the prerequisites and dynamics of the resource base and to identify sustainable ways to develop resources and valuable resource combinations.

    We will focus the analysis on challenges and opportunities in three resource types pertinent to tourism in the bio-economy:

    (i) bio resources—natural (i.e. wildlife) and processed resources (local food etc.),

    (ii) cultural resources (landscapes, installations, knowledge), and

    (iii) tourism infrastructure.

    Two subtasks

    WP 2 is organised in two subtasks;

    • 2a will conceptually and statistically model the dynamics of essential ecological resources in a tourism perspective
    • 2b will apply a landscape resource analysis (LRA) as a way to implement enhanced and more sustainable resource use and development of NBT on the local and regional level.
  • What is the current and potential demand for nature-based tourism products in Norway?

    This WP will establish measures of existing markets for the set of experiences in each case study theme, as well as estimate the demand for new products.

    The overall objective is to explore and understand the current and potential demand for NBT products in a Norwegian context. 

    Market segmentation analysis will provide descriptions of main consumer segments, combining experience attribute preferences and willingness-to-pay with socio-economic/demographic characteristics and nature/environmental values and attitudes (psychographics).

    Two primary outputs will be:

    • market information on NBT segments and
    • preferences for experience packages and product attributes

    Coordinator: Petter Dybedal, E-mail: petter.dybedal@toi.no

  • How can empirical research provide common lessons for tourism actors and management to succeed?

    The objective of this WP is to provide new, empirically based knowledge on three topics:

    (i) motivations and profitability among firms in the NBT sector, 

    (ii) premises, opportunities and challenges for development and place-based growth, and

    (iii) the basis for successful management through cooperation and interaction between authorities, tourism providers and the local community.

    Coordinator: Magnar Forbord, E-mail: magnar.forbord@bygdeforskning.no

  • Which innovative tourism solutions can be drawn from the BIOTOUR project?

    This WP contains three integrated parts based on the hypothesis that value creation in the Norwegian NBT sector will increase through the implementation of:

    (i) smart packaged products,
    (ii) ICT solutions for market communication and
    (iii) knowledge driven entrepreneurship.

    The objective is to provide innovative tourism solutions drawing on data and results from the different WP and the thematic case studies.