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Norwegian inbound tour operator Uniktur is based in Ålesund, a port town often referred to as the Norwegian Venice thanks to its many canals and bridges. In 2018, Uniktur exhibited at MITT for the first time.

We spoke to Uniktur's Radmyla Yakobsen to find out about the company’s experience exhibiting for the first time at MITT this year.

Why did you choose to exhibit at MITT?

In my opinion, MITT is the best option to present my company on the Russian market and to find partners for collaboration – tour operators and agencies. We don’t work directly with Russian tourists because of difficulties processing visas and payments. So it’s important to find Russian tour operators and partners who can organise small groups of 10-15 tourists for our Russian-language tours of Ålesund.

Is Russia one of your key source markets?

Yes, the Russian market is a rather attractive tour market in terms of volumes. Secondly, Norway is not yet a hugely popular destination for Russian tourists so I do my best to represent Norway from the inside. I am Russian, my soul is Russian, and I’ve prepared special tours that I am absolutely sure Russian people will enjoy. I choose trips in line with the taste of what Russian tourists like. In fact, this season I am only offering tours for Russian-speaking clients. We have plenty of English and German-speaking tour operators in Norway but none of them work with Russian-speaking tourists.

The type of Russian tourist that comes to Norway is very intelligent and requires extremely knowledgeable guides, facts on Norway’s history, culture, and society and generally a huge amount of information. That’s why it’s not enough for tour guides to speak Russian; they must be very knowledgeable.

Russian tourists make up just 2% of all inbound tourists in Norway, but it’s 6% in Ålesund so it’s an interesting market for me. It means Russian people prefer to go to Ålesund; it’s a charming city and convenient.

Why is Ålesund so popular with Russian tourists?

It’s the nature that attracts most Russian tourists (fjords, mountains, history, legends, etc.). Ålesund is located in the heart of Norway, just 100km away from its main attractions: famous fjords, mountains, and the biggest glaciers in Europe.

What do you see as the benefits of exhibiting as part of a national stand?

I think that it really helps to raise awareness of what Norway has to offer. The only thing most Russian tourists know about Norway is that it is expensive and cold. So, the national stand helps to provide information on new destinations and programmes with affordable prices and a lot of bonuses for Russian speaking tourists. I’m only able to exhibit due to Visit Norway and its support, both financially and organisationally. I couldn’t do it independently.

How successful was your time at MITT 2018? 

I am very satisfied, I really wasn’t expecting such interest in Norway and in my company. We worked liked crazy for the first two days! Everything is very well organised.