It is a well-trodden path undertaken by organisations representing eastern Mediterranean territories, such as Montenegro, Croatia, and even further back, Turkey. However, Hiis Bergh is leading the way among Scandinavian initiatives and utilising his extensive history in the tourism sector.
With the appetite for attracting superyachts to its shores evident among Norway’s tourism associations, Hiis Bergh says his mind was made up after visiting Monaco. “I had to contact my friends and companies around Norway - companies that have money and that want to run risk”, he said in conversation with assistant editor, Maxine Cheyney.
“I can see that there is a need for alternatives to the Med and I see that there are people who are more active, more sporty and more adventurous and we had something new and exciting… I call it Norway a la carte for superyachts.”
The country and its stunning scenery do attract superyachts to its waters but it has always been considered aperipheral destination. And establishing oneself in the increasingly heterogeneous cruising market is neither cheap nor easy for a relative unknown.
But Hiis Bergh is on the campaign trail, attending yacht shows and visiting yachting hubs to engage with captains and guests. And in addition to the UNESCO-listed fjords and outstanding natural beauty, his pitch contains one element that invariably proves a winner in the yachting sector, and has been used to great effect by the aforementioned countries in the past.
“We are a non-EU country”, and for charters, “we have no VAT on the…fees.” Furthermore, “The rate of Norwegian exchange has fallen [significantly] because of oil prices. So the guests may know Norway as a very expensive country, but now guests will be paying 20 per cent less than last year. We are increasing the level of tourism in Norway because of that. And we are a secure country.”