Theme Parks as Flagship Attractions in Peripheral Areas

The economic impact of theme parks on regions
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Theme Parks as Flagship Attractions in Peripheral Areas

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Theme Parks as Flagship Attractions
Peripheral Areas
Petter Dybedal
Unit of Tourism Research
Research Centre of Bornholm
October 1998
ISBN: 87-90144-78-3
ISBN: 87-90144-75-9
The Research Centre of Bornholm has established a five-year (1995-99) research
programme labelled Tourism in Peripheral Areas of Europe. Tourist attractions are
fundamental to the existence of tourism, and studies that shed light on the role and
importance of tourist attractions find their inevitable place within this research
Major attractions are often labelled flagship attractions, referring to their role as focal
points and as catalysts for tourism development in a region or a tourism destination.
Establishment of new attractions – particularly potential flagships – has in many countries
been considered as a tool for economic development in peripheral areas. Considerable
public funding has been made available, often without sufficient background knowledge
on potential visitor markets and how attractions function (individually and collectively)
within the tourism context.



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Such knowledge is essential in any assessment of the tourism development potential of an
area, and in any assessment of public financial support for a particular attraction. The
various types of evaluation, feasibility studies or other analyses require firstly a theoretical
understanding of the mechanisms that influence the market demand and the local and
regional effects. Secondly, they require specific knowledge and experience from studies of
particular attractions.
This study focuses on the theme park sector. Although theme parks are usually found in
densely populated areas, some parks are also found in peripheral areas. On the European
theme park scene there are for instance several parks in the Scandinavian countries that
may be classified as peripheral. Data from previous studies on four Norwegian theme
parks, undertaken by the author and colleagues at the Institute of Transport Economics in
Oslo, have been utilised in this report. These parks constitute the study’s flagship
attraction cases.
The study will hopefully contribute to the understanding of some of the essential questions
related to theme parks as flagships in peripheral areas, and to the general evaluation of
flagship attractions.
The project was carried out during the author’s engagement as a guest researcher at the
Research Centre of Bornholm and was finished at the Institute of Transport Economics in
Oslo, where he currently holds the position of senior research economist.
The author would like to thank Professor Peter S. Johnson of the University of Durham,
who has carefully refereed the report and given very useful comments and suggestions of
improvements. The author would also like to express his gratefulness for the hospitality,
inspiration, patience and kind support of the staff at the Research Centre of Bornholm.
Svend Lundtorp
Chief of Research
October 1998

1. Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9
1.1 Background ………………………………………………………………………………………… 9
1.2 Study Objectives, Approach and Contents………………………………………………. 11
2. Attraction Theories: Concepts and Contextual Features……………………………………… 15
2.1 General Attraction Study Perspectives …………………………………………………… 15
2.1.1 Attraction concepts: the ideographic perspective……………………………………… 15
2.1.2 Attraction contexts: the organisational perspective…………………………………… 16
2.2 Amplifying the Flagship Term …………………………………………………………….. 18
3. Economic Impact Study Framework ……………………………………………………………….. 21
3.1 Economic Impacts of Tourism – an Overview………………………………………….. 21
3.1.1 Impacts in general – types and measures ………………………………………………… 21
3.1.2 Impacts of single enterprises: identification of relevant expenditures ………….. 21
3.2 Interrelations and Causalities – A Model Framework ……………………………….. 22
3.3 Visitor Expenditure Additionality and Displacement ……………………………….. 25
3.4 The expenditure estimation model ………………………………………………………… 26
3.4.1 The case study approach – no displacement…………………………………………….. 27
3.4.2 The general approach including displacement ………………………………………… 29
3.5 Some Comments on Estimation of Additionality……………………………………… 30
4. Theme Parks – an Overview…………………………………………………………………………… 33
4.1 Theme Park Concepts and Definitions …………………………………………………… 33
4.2 Theme Parks in Europe ………………………………………………………………………. 36
4.3 Theme Parks in Denmark and Norway ………………………………………………….. 37
4.4 Theme Parks Markets in Central vs. Peripheral Areas ……………………………… 38
5. Introduction to the Theme Parks Studies …………………………………………………………. 43
5.1 Theme Parks: Major Norwegian Tourist Attractions ………………………………… 43
5.2 The Theme Park Survey ……………………………………………………………………… 44
5.3 The Theme Parks: Basic Concepts ………………………………………………………… 45
5.3.1 Hunderfossen Familiepark …………………………………………………………………… 46
5.3.2 Telemark Sommarland ……………………………………………………………………….. 46
5.3.3 Kristiansand Dyrepark………………………………………………………………………… 47
5.3.4 TusenFryd ………………………………………………………………………………………… 48
5.4 The Financial Viability of the Parks………………………………………………………. 48
5.5 Characteristics of the Host Areas ………………………………………………………….. 50
6. The Theme Park Markets ……………………………………………………………………………… 55
6.1 Basic Visitor Characteristics………………………………………………………………… 55
6.2 Resident population in local and regional markets …………………………………… 56
6.3 Visitor Markets by Type of Trip……………………………………………………………. 57
6.4 The Outreach of Visitor Markets by Residence ……………………………………….. 58
6.4.1 Market overview………………………………………………………………………………… 59
6.4.2 The excursionist market………………………………………………………………………. 64
6.4.3 The short break market……………………………………………………………………….. 66
6.4.4 The holiday trip market ………………………………………………………………………. 68
6.5 The Outreach of Holiday Destination Markets ………………………………………… 70
6.6 Market Competition between the Theme Parks ……………………………………….. 73
6.6.1 The excursionist market………………………………………………………………………. 73
6.6.2 The short break and holiday markets …………………………………………………….. 74
7. The Tourism Industry in Host Areas……………………………………………………………….. 77
7.1 General Area Tourism Characteristics …………………………………………………… 77
7.2 Accommodation Capacity and Structures……………………………………………….. 77
7.3 Other Attractions in Host Areas……………………………………………………………. 78
8. Local Impacts of the Case Parks …………………………………………………………………….. 81
8.1 Expenditures in Host Areas …………………………………………………………………. 81
8.1.1 Visitors by trip category………………………………………………………………………. 81
8.1.2 Visitor additionality……………………………………………………………………………. 82
8.1.3 Expenditure data and estimation…………………………………………………………… 83
8.1.4 Length of stay in host area…………………………………………………………………… 85
8.1.5 Estimated impacts: visitor expenditure additionality ………………………………… 85
8.2 Generation of Guest-nights and Attraction Visits…………………………………….. 86
8.2.1 Guest nights ……………………………………………………………………………………… 86
8.2.2 Visits to other attractions in host areas…………………………………………………… 87
9. Concluding Summary…………………………………………………………………………………… 91
9.1 The Problem and the Approach ……………………………………………………………. 91
9.2 Theme Parks and Markets in General ……………………………………………………. 91
9.3 Scandinavian Theme Parks and Their Markets ……………………………………….. 92
9.4 Drawing Power and Geographical Markets…………………………………………….. 93
9.5 Economic Impacts ……………………………………………………………………………… 94
9.6 Closing Comments …………………………………………………………………………….. 95
9.7 References ………………………………………………………………………………………… 97
Figures and Tables
Figure 1. A basic model framework …………………………………………………………………. 24
Figure 2. Visitors at a particular attraction: Visitor expenditure additionality and
visitor expenditure displacement within the local area of the attraction…….. 27
Figure 3. Location of Norwegian theme parks. Major road network………………………. 52
Figure 4. Park visitors by distance zone. TusenFryd (TF), and aggregated figures
for Hunderfossen Familiepark, Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark
Sommarland…………………………………………………………………………………… 60
Figure 5. Park visitors by distance zone as percentage of population.
TusenFryd (TF) + average figures for Hunderfossen Familiepark,
Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark Sommarland ………………………………. 61
Figure 6. Park visitors by type of trip and distance zone. Aggregated figures
for Hunderfossen Familiepark, Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark
Sommarland…………………………………………………………………………………… 62
Figure 7. Percentage distribution of park visitors by type of trip and distance
zone. Hunderfossen Familiepark, Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark
Sommarland…………………………………………………………………………………… 63
Figure 8. Park visitors by distance zone as percentage of population. Excursionists …. 65
Figure 9. Park visitors by distance zone in per cent of population. Short break
travellers ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 67
Figure 10. Park visitors by distance zone as percentage of population. Holiday
travellers ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 69
Table 1. Attendance at major European theme parks 1992 …………………………………. 37
Table 2. Theme parks in Denmark 1996 …………………………………………………………. 39
Table 3. Norwegian theme parks 1996 ……………………………………………………………. 39
Table 4. Population within 150 kilometres. Danish and Norwegian theme parks
1996……………………………………………………………………………………………… 41
Table 5. Top ten admission fee attractions in Norway. Numbers of visitors 1996
and 1997 ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 43
Table 6. Number of visitors in the period 19 June – 13 August 1995 and whole
season …………………………………………………………………………………………… 45
Table 7. Annual numbers of visitors by park ……………………………………………………. 49
Table 8. Number of residents in local areas ……………………………………………………… 50
Table 9. Visitors by number of people in each group. Percentage of interviewed
visitors ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 55
Table 10. Proportion of visitors in groups including children (under 18).
Percentage of interviewed visitors………………………………………………………. 56
Table 11. Number of people in each visitor group and percentage of visitors,
by age group…………………………………………………………………………………… 56
Table 12. Number of residents (000s) within different driving distances ………………… 57
Table 13. Visitors by type of trip by park 1995. Per cent ……………………………………… 58
Table 14. Park visitor numbers by distance zone. Excursionists…………………………….. 65
Table 15. Park visitor numbers by distance zone. Short break travellers …………………. 66
Table 16. Park visitor numbers by distance zone. Holiday travellers………………………. 69
Table 17. Proportion of visitors by distance zone. Excursionists: distance from
residence. Short break visitors and holiday travellers: distance from
accommodation site. Percentage ………………………………………………………… 71
Table 18. Accommodation site by distance zone and by importance of park
visit for travelling to area of accommodation site. Short break
and holiday visitors. Percentage…………………………………………………………. 72
Table 19. Road distances between the parks (in kilometres) …………………………………. 74
Table 20. Proportion of visitors who have visited other parks 1994 or 1995, by
type of trip this visit. Percentage………………………………………………………… 74
Table 21. Number of staying visitors in host area by type of accommodation…………… 78
Table 22. Other attractions in the local area of Hunderfossen Familiepark ……………… 79
Table 23. Other attractions in the local area of Kristiansand Dyrepark…………………… 79
Table 24. Other attractions in the local area of Telemark Sommarland ………………….. 80
Table 25. Visitors by type of trip by park. Percentage………………………………………….. 82
Table 26. Visitors attributable to park. Numbers and per cent additionality…………….. 83
Table 27. Visitors’ off-site expenditures per day within each park’s local area, NOK .. 84
Table 28. Average number of overnights spent in host area by type of accommodation
……………………………………………………………………………………….. 85
Table 29. Visitor expenditure additionality. Total expenditures in local area, by
visitor category and park. Period 19 June – 13 Aug. 1995, millions NOK …. 86
Table 30. Number of guest nights in host area by type of accommodation. Visitors
who stated that park visit was main reason for coming to the host area…….. 87
Table 31. Proportion of visitors visiting other attractions in host areas by type of
trip. Percentage ………………………………………………………………………………. 88
Table 32. Proportion of visitors visiting at least one other attraction during the
trip by type of trip. Percentage…………………………………………………………… 88
Table 33. Number of park visitors (000s) visiting other attractions in host area or
region……………………………………………………………………………………………. 90

1. Introduction
1.1 Background
Several tourist destinations owe their position and level of development to the existence of
one major attraction that has a uniqueness and appeal otherwise not present in the area.
This may particularly be the case in rural (or peripheral) tourism; whereas in more
urbanised areas, destinations often comprise a variety of attractions (clusters). Clusters
may also appear at regional, national or international levels. In attraction clusters one
particular attraction may be outstanding or dominant, constituting the top of a hierarchy of
different tourist sites.
The label «flagship attraction» may be attached to single major attractions as well as to
particular attractions within attraction clusters. In destination development, such
attractions can be considered as core tourism assets or resources, providing the initial basis
for tourism along with human and economic resources, and securing economic benefits in
terms of business receipts (that in turn generate income and employment) for the area. The
attraction may be a highly commercial tourism enterprise, e. g. a major theme or leisure
park, or it may be a natural, historie or cultural site not directly commercially exploitable
itself, e.g. a national park or a public monument. Alongside the impacts of revenues from
the attraction, the flows of tourists arriving to experience the attraction represent business
opportunities within and outside tourism that may give considerable additional benefits to
the area.
In several countries (for instance the UK, Denmark and Norway), considerable public
funding has been made available for development of attractions in rural areas, basically to
stimulate the local economy, but in many cases also combined with intentions of securing
care of heritage sites or activities. The force behind tourism establishments in rural areas
is very often the alliance of local private entrepreneurs and local politicians, combined
with the availability of public funding. This type of alliance represent a mixture of
investment incentives (profits, job creation, cultural interest, local identity, etc.), that often
leads to establishment of projects that are not economically viable. This is often the result
of to over-estimation of visitor numbers (and consequently smaller revenues than
expected), and of excess investment in a region. Sometimes over-investments may be
observed as a result of the me too phenomenon – almost identical attractions competing in
markets too small for more than one attraction of its kind.
Unfortunate investments are quite often the result of too little attention paid to how
different types of attractions are functioning in relation to markets and within the tourism
industry context. In this respect, a thorough evaluation of tourist attraction projects
requires a profound understanding of both the product itself and its context. Besides the
quality and scale of the product, external issues like markets, the characteristics of the
destination and its tourism industry are clearly influencing the viability of attractions and
their local and regional economic impacts.
To approach an understanding of the phenomenon of attractions and their functional and
spatial characteristics, studies of theoretical issues as well as specific knowledge extracted
from studies of particular attraction cases are required. This is the background for this
study, which focuses on the type of attractions that – according to their relative importance
– are labelled flagship attractions.
The main reason for focusing on flagship attractions is primarily their importance as
cornerstone enterprises and as a foundation for tourism development in peripheral areas.
In this respect, an interesting aspect is the local or regional tourism industry dependency
on one dominant attraction.
Another important reason is of course that markets and economic impact issues may be
identified more distinctly at an attraction with a dominant position. At minor attractions or
attraction clusters impacts may be less traceable, and a general understanding of
attractions may be more difficult to obtain because of more disturbance in terms of causal
Theme parks constitute an important group of new man-made attractions in the field of
international tourism. They are usually (and more-or-less by definition) large attractions,
that often appear as flagships in their region or local area. Within the great variety of
attractions – in almost any category of attractions there are examples of flagships – theme
parks constitute a relatively homogeneous class of places to visit. Although there may be
considerable conceptual differences from one park to another, their major attractive
elements are appealing to basically the same kind of needs and demands for entertainment,
experiences and playing activities. Their market targets are quite broad in terms of visitor
characteristics, but at the same time possible to identify – namely as the family segment.
The international tourism scene suggests that larger theme parks are usually located near
big population centres. Understandably, peripherally located parks have to base their
incomes more on tourism to compensate for the absence of sufficient local markets. They
face less competition from other attractions than parks in more urbanised areas do. For
these reasons, they more frequently appear as flagship attractions in their local area.
This is particularly the case in Scandinavia, where a number of the major amusement or
theme parks are in fact located some distance away from the few densely populated areas
to be found in these countries. Although located within driving distance from population
centres, these parks are established in areas that may accurately be described as peripheral.
Examples of such Scandinavian major theme parks are Fårup Sommerland and Djurs
Sommerland in Denmark, Skara Sommarland in Sweden and Hunderfossen Familiepark,
Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark Sommarland in Norway.
The latter three parks constitute the cases to be presented and examined in this study,
together with the TusenFryd park, which is located in the more urbanised Oslo area.
1.2 Study Objectives, Approach and Contents
The general objective of the study is to systemise, and hopefully extend, knowledge on
how theme parks function as tourist attractions. In particular, the objective is to assess the
potential and limitations of theme parks as tourism development catalysts in peripheral
More specifically, the study will examine:
1. Essential characteristics of the markets for and the visitors to theme parks.
The main features focused on here are to the degree to which peripheral theme parks
attract excursionists, short break trip visitors and holiday trip visitors, and the size of
catchment areas (or influence zones) that may be observed in each market.
2. The regional and local economic benefits occurring from a flagship attraction.
Here the main problems to be discussed are how the economic impacts occur (and may
be estimated) and how they are influenced by the spatial and functional contexts in
which the attraction appears. The contexts in question refer primarily to characteristics
of the visitor markets, the host area and the tourism industry in the park region.
The overall approach chosen to meet the study objectives is to discuss the theme park
phenomenon on two levels:
1. A general level which includes a theoretical background for understanding attractions
in general and a framework in which various aspects of attractions and their impacts
may be discussed.
2. An empirical level, which includes an overview of the theme park scene in Europe and
case studies on Norwegian theme parks focusing on park concepts, markets and local
economic impacts.
The essence of this approach is to combine general knowledge on attractions with specific
knowledge of theme parks in peripheral areas. The conclusions and findings from the
discussion on general issues primarily constitute a contextual framework in which the case
studies are rooted. Some of the basic findings, for instance the basic elements of the
principal model, are applied in the case studies to estimate impacts and to explain how
they occur. However, both the general approach and the case studies may also be seen as
(partly) independent contributions to the understanding of theme parks as flagship
attractions. Besides being founded on the theoretical platform of the general approach, the
case studies are the empirical illustrations that complement this approach. They represent
the extension that takes the theme park phenomenon into the field of peripheral area
The first part of the study (chapters 2 and 3) is concentrated on general issues and the
establishment of a theoretical platform. This presentation is primarily based on an
exploratory study of relevant literature.
Chapter 2 comprises a largely analytical discussion of attraction typologies and
perspectives, particularly emphasising the organisational perspective approach for the
identification of various spatial and functional issues. This chapter also contains a
discussion of attraction hierarchies and possible perceptions of the flagship metaphor.
In chapter 3 a basic model for approaching the various conceptual and contextual
influences on economic impacts is introduced, together with a simple framework for
estimation of impacts. This theoretical framework discusses for instance:
·  identification of essential terms and variables;
·  interrelations and causalities (which variables are influencing which and in what way);
·  methodological approaches for identification of economic impact elements of particular
·  methodological problems in research design, data collection and analysis.
It should be made clear here that impacts are primarily discussed in terms of visitor
expenditures attributable to an attraction. The study focuses on factors that are
determining and influencing these expenditure volumes, and the distribution of them on
on-site purchases (inside park) and off-site purchases (expenditures in other tourism
industries and other business in the area). Secondary and induced impacts and particular
impact elements like job creation, income multipliers, etc. are only discussed indirectly.
These elements may be considered as being part of the general impact problems in applied
economics, and as such they are not matters that particularly concern flagships or theme
parks. As pointed out, a major objective is to study possible relations between the nature
and volume of visitor expenditures, and certain characteristics linked to the attraction,
including attraction concept, markets and other spatial and functional contexts.
In the second part of the study (chapter 4) an overview of theme parks is presented.
Definitions and concepts of theme parks are discussed within a general attraction typology,
and various market criteria concerning viability are presented. Danish and Norwegian
theme parks are compared with European theme parks. The comparison focuses on visitor
numbers and markets, discussing also the particular market issues of peripheral parks.
In the third part (chapters 5, 6 and 7) four case studies based on visitor surveys undertaken
in 1995 in the four theme parks in Norway are presented. There are two reasons for using
these cases. Firstly, the survey material was already available at low cost, which was a
necessity in this study. Secondly, the material contains data that provide a very appropriate
background for the analytic study presented here.
The main purpose of the case studies is to describe and analyse parks and their impacts in
light of visitor structures, attraction characteristics and spatial and functional contexts.
However, the case studies also represent sources of experience and knowledge that provide
useful input to the general analysis framework, for instance, to exemplify characteristics
and contexts of flagship attractions and to support identification of methodological
problems and options in economic impact studies, particularly with respect to visitor
additionality and visitor displacement estimates. This support effect concerns
identification of variables and revealing of pitfalls in data collection and possible
constraints regarding the use of visitor interviews in impact studies.
In chapter 5 an overview of the parks and their position on the Norwegian attraction scene
is presented. The chapter gives a description of the parks and their concepts and of the
local areas (host areas) where the parks are situated.
Chapter 6 focuses on the markets of the Norwegian theme parks. The emphasis is on
market segmentation by type of trip – excursionists, short break travellers and holiday
travellers – and by driving distances. The geographical outreach of these various markets,
respectively, is considered the most important issue. Hence figures on visitor numbers are
seen in relation to population figures and driving distance between park and residence,
and also between park and accommodation site. Some comments on the parks’ competitive
situation in the domestic and the international theme park markets are also made.
A brief view of the tourism industry in the host areas is presented in chapter 7, describing
the accommodation structures and capacities as well as the existence of other attractions in
the host areas.
In chapter 8 the basic principles of the impact estimation framework are applied to the
case studies. Some major results of the case studies are presented and discussed in light of
the estimation framework.
2. Attraction Theories: Concepts and Contextual
2.1 General Attraction Study Perspectives
·  Attractions constitute a rather heterogeneous group of subjects. They obviously appear
in various forms and various contexts, each of which may influence their role and
importance in different ways. To approach an understanding of the role of attractions
in the conglomerate of different economic activities that is labelled as the tourism
industry, it is necessary to identify the relevant types of characteristics and contexts.
This implies that attractions are studied from both an ideographic and an
organisational perspective:1
·  The identification of attraction characteristics (concepts) implies a discussion of some
essential ideographic features. The identification of contexts that influence economic
impacts implies an investigation based on elements of the organisational typology,
which emphasises the spatial and functional features of the attraction.
2.1.1 Attraction concepts: the ideographic perspective
A suitable ideographic typology is usually necessary to handle the variety of attraction
concepts, for instance to identify the various types and organise them into operational
categories. In particular attraction impact studies it is needed to reveal the influence of
the attraction concept on tourists’ expenditures in the area. The concept obviously affects
the expenditures by influencing the visitor’s length of stay, and also by the types of visitors
it is attracting. Different market segments may show considerably different expenditure
A basic classification could in this respect be produced by considering the elements of
participation (passive or active), duration of consumption period (short or lengthy use of
attraction) and attraction permanency:
1. Particular objects and places to see.
These can be grouped as cultural features (monuments, museums, historic or sacred
laces, etc.) and natural features (spectacular scenery, viewpoints, nature parks,
landmarks like North Cape, Niagara Falls, etc.).
2. Activity and recreation attractions.
A. Different types of leisure parks, sports facilities, heritage centres, large shopping
malls, etc. that offer activities and amusements which usually require at least a
1 Lew, 1987.
day’s visit and a maximum of a couple of days.
B. Recreation sites (ski resorts, beach resorts, gambling and entertainment resorts,
holiday camps, spas, etc.) where the product is a collection of experiences during a
vacation period rather than specific attractions requiring a short stay visit only.
3. Events.
These include festivals, sports arrangements, temporary natural phenomena, etc.
Flagship attractions may be found in each category except category 2 B. Generally, the
ideographic classification may be further developed to include various levels of sub-groups
of concepts to match most attractions.
The cases used in this study are theme parks. According to the previous list, these should
be categorised as activity and recreation attractions (2 A). A further description of the
specific concept of each park is presented later in the study.
2.1.2 Attraction contexts: the organisational perspective
The organisational typology is a different research approach which does not necessarily
examine the attractions themselves, but rather focuses on their spatial, capacity and
temporal nature.2
The nature of impact studies necessarily requires that an organisational perspective is
applied, simply because there are essential external elements that influence the economic
impacts of an attraction. Such external factors may be identified and investigated by
categorising the attraction environment into a host area context, a tourism industry context
and a market context.
Firstly, there has to be a certain defined area or a particular destination for which the
attraction is considered a flagship, and for which benefits are measured. Neither the
flagship term nor the benefit analysis makes sense unless a host area is specified. Initially,
the host area context comprises the geographical outreach of the study area. Besides
describing an area by its actual size, frequently used categories are local area (community),
region, province or country. The context further comprises area characteristics like degree
of urbanisation, situation (central or remote area), level of supply of goods and services
other than tourism, access from other areas and general infrastructure features.
The importance of the tourism industry context is postulated by Wanhill,3 among others,
emphasising the tourist trip as a mix of various components supplied by a variety of
organisations and that destination success is a matter of delivering the right mix of
components. This refers to the attraction power of the destination product. However,
characteristics of the supply side clearly also influence the expenditures of those visiting
2 Lew, 1987.
3 Wanhill, 1996b, p. 15.
the destination. The issues or variables of the tourism industry context believed to be the
most important are:
1. The degree of tourism development in the area, the quality and variety (or mix) of
products and the location of enterprises in relation to the attraction. Variables include:
(I) scale measures including accommodation capacity by type of accommodation,
numbers of guestnights, day visitors, etc. (II) Capacity and variety in the area catering
industry. (III) Types of other attractions and their visitor numbers. (IV) The strength of
destination or regional tourism marketing organisations.
2. The system of attractions in the area. This would include a description of how the
hierarchy (if there are other attractions) functions, emphasising the presence of any
supporting attractions and synergy effects thereof and the presence of competing
attractions. This is particularly important with respect to assessment of the number of
visitors attributable to the attraction.
3. The levels of price and quality of the various tourism product elements.
4. The seasonality of tourism in the area – the length of the season for the tourism product
(which in turn may be affected by climate and holiday periods).
5. The competitive and complementary relations with attractions and other tourism
products in other areas – both neighbouring and more distant regions.
The organisational perspective approach also includes a market context that comprises
assessment of the geographical market areas outreach and number of residents. The socalled
catchment areas may be categorised in relation to local, regional, domestic or
international attraction, and are primarily described by distribution of residents by travel
distance. The market context also comprises the number of tourists on holiday within day
trip distance from the attraction, and the existence of access points (for instance ferry
terminals) and numbers of transit or round trip tourists passing such points. Mobility and
access are two keywords.
The tourism research literature provides several examples of tourist typologies. Some
typologies that are very relevant to focus expenditure features are related to type of trip to
the area. Firstly, a distinction must be made between staying visitors and day visitors, the
former having considerably larger expenditures in the area than the latter. A distinction
between day visitors on holiday in other areas and day visitors travelling from their
residence will also be useful; they are for instance expected to have a different expenditure
motivation. Secondly, a distinction between incoming and local visitors is important – the
latter not representing direct import to the area of demand for goods and services. In
addition to these typologies, the proportion of repeat visitors should be examined. This
proportion influences the business receipts, because the number of visitors from a fixed
market population is the product of population size and visit frequency.
Finally, the attraction concept and the quality and contents of total tourist product of an
area will influence the numbers of visitors by different age groups, household income
level, education, etc. As the various groups have different expenditure patterns, a study
should include a socio-economic typology. Expenditure data then must be available,
specified for each group, which normally should be done in attraction visitor surveys. This
was not the case for the empirical material of the case studies, and will be discussed later
in this paper.
2.2 Amplifying the Flagship Term
What do we mean by a flagship attraction? While a strict definition is not necessary, since
the general framework is in principle applicable to any attraction whose impacts are being
evaluated, it is nevertheless helpful to have a working definition.
In this study, the term is initially introduced as a description that fits the attraction cases,
simply to indicate that the research field chosen concerns attractions of a certain
importance. Nevertheless, it is interesting to investigate the implications of the flagship
term further:
A general definition of flagship attractions is not primarily an ideographic matter. As
almost any natural or man-made attraction in principle may constitute a flagship
attraction, it is more a matter of scale – relative size or relative importance compared with
other attractions – which, in turn, indicates that the flagship term must be defined within
the organisational perspective.
Following this conclusion, a brief discussion of the flagship term is presented below. Here
the term is eventually linked to theories of attraction systems, or more specifically, to
theories of attraction hierarchies.
Obviously the flagship label is not a scientific term, it is a metaphor that refers to some
criteria of importance. Initially the term seems to be a matter of scale, in terms of absolute
number of visitors or proportion of destination or area visitors attributable to the
attraction. It does, however, obviously also include a visibility aspect, that refers to the
attraction as a focal point of a destination.
The visibility or destination image aspect implies that the attraction should be the most
important product component of the area’s tourist image. Echtner and Ritchie4 discuss the
importance of several functional and psychological aspects of destination image, and a
reasonable interpretation of their conclusions is that an attraction should contribute
significantly to the exposure of a destination to be considered as a flagship. Furthermore,
Georg Kamfjord5 focuses on the importance of the exposure profile (as the pre-visit
destination image) of attractions in building the destination image. In many cases specific
4 Echtner and Ritchie, 1991, p. 8.
5 Georg Kamfjord, 1993, pp. 68-70.
attractions are marketed as identifiers for larger attraction complexes or larger areas.6 The
image aspect is a qualitative criterion, which possibly could be operationalised by
investigating the attraction’s position in marketing strategies on various geographical
The scale perspective implies that a flagship should be observed to attract a certain
number of visitors who otherwise would not have come to the area. Stephen Wanhill7
describes some essential quantitative characteristics by emphasising the ability of (new)
flagship attractions to attract new markets or extend the geographical outreach of the
area beyond the capabilities of existing businesses, and their innovative character, making
them capable of tapping into unrealised demand.
An operational approach is to state that a flagship status requires that a majority of the
visitors to the destination or area are attributable to the attraction. This approach must also
imply that there is a certain volume of tourism, i.e. that some absolute numbers criterion is
met. Otherwise the definition may suit any remote place being visited by someone.
Knowledge of the distribution of visitors by reason for visit usually requires that some kind
of survey has been carried out. If not, a more pragmatic view could then be applied: the
flagship term may be applied to cases where it seems evident, or is assumed to be, that a
majority of visitors find the place worthy to visit just because of the particular attraction.
An important distinction has to be made between destination visitors and attraction
visitors. If a majority of the attraction visitors state that they came particularly to see the
attraction, the term flagship may not be appropriate. It could be that the attraction visitors
constitute only a minor proportion of the destination visitors, if the attraction for instance
is a niche product for those particularly interested. In that case the criterion of being an
image focus of the destination or area is not met.
This investigation of the contents of the flagship label has emphasised the practical
implications linked to flagships, which initially seem most relevant to identify the
characteristics of the term.
To approach a more profound understanding and a more accurate definition of the
attractions targeted by this study, however, the flagship term could be associated with the
nucleus concept in the systemic approach developed by Leiper8 on the basis of
contributions from Gunn9 and MacCannel.10 In MacCannel’s original attraction system a
tourist attraction is defined as an empirical relation between a tourist, a sight, and a
6 Lew, 1987; MacCannel, 1976.
7 Stephen Wanhill, 1996a, pp. 22-23.
8 Leiper, 1990.
9 Gunn, 1972.
10 MacCannel, 1976.
marker (1976, 41). In Leiper’s version, the attraction system is expressed as a relationship
between a tourist, a nucleus and an informative element (a marker). The nucleus11 is the
particular characteristic of a place the tourist seeks, which may be an element of an
attraction, or the attraction itself. Leiper introduces the term primary nucleus as the type of
element that is influential in a traveller’s decision about where to go. This systemic view
is an individualistic approach to the understanding of attractions, emphasising that each
individual tourist will relate differently to the various nuclear elements. However, the
flagship term may be interpreted within the systemic approach as the element that is
perceived as the primary nucleus of a destination by a majority of the visitors.
The advantages of applying the systemic approach to attraction theory are primarily linked
to the understanding of how and why tourists are attracted to a certain destination. In the
discussion of visitor additionality this approach will take the researcher beyond metaphoric
terms like pull-effect that are often used as a measure of an attraction’s importance.
Initially it seems fruitful to apply this model as a background for discussions of
methodological problems and options in identifying visitors who are actually attributable
to an attraction.
11 Gunn, 1972.
3. Economic Impact Study Framework
3.1 Economic Impacts of Tourism – an Overview
3.1.1 Impacts in general – types and measures
The economic impacts of tourism (or any other economic branch or sector) comprise
effects that are usually categorised as direct, indirect and induced effects.12 Impacts may be
measured in several ways, for instance as business receipts, employment or value added in
the area of concern. Impacts may be expressed in absolute figures, but are quite often
expressed in relative figures, as so-called multipliers.
The direct effects of tourism occur in enterprises directly selling their products to tourists
(hotels, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, etc.) and appear as receipts, income,
employment, local taxes or other measures. Likewise, indirect effects arise in enterprises
that supply production input to these enterprises. Induced effects arise when company
owners and employees are spending the incomes and wages that are created through the
process from the initial sales to tourists (the direct effects) down through the various stages
of sub-deliveries of goods and services (the indirect effects).
The total impacts occurring from these effects naturally depend on how much of the initial
tourist expenditures are kept circulating inside the local economy. In other words, account
must be taken of the degree to which money is leaking out of the economy in terms of
demand for products from outside, wages to employees living outside the area, incomes to
owners based outside the area, national taxes, etc. Particularly in rural areas, the indirect
and the induced effects may be small. Generally leakages are higher the more remote the
area is, because most products for consumption or production input have to come from
companies outside the local area. The local supply of semi-finished goods and products to
sell at local shops, and even the supply of skilled labour, etc., is small at most peripheral
tourism destinations.
3.1.2 Impacts of single enterprises: identification of relevant
Tourists’ expenditures are the starting point in most studies of economic impacts, even
when establishing satellite accounts for tourism at the national level.13 One always has to
identify the expenditures of the tourists, which include both spending at tourism
12 See for instance Frechtling, 1994.
13 Evensen and Sørensen, 1997.
enterprises (hotels, restaurants, attractions) and at different shops, petrol stations,
transport companies, etc.
When estimating impacts of single tourism enterprises, one faces also the problem of
identifying expenditures that are attributable to the enterprise. When the question is what
the effects caused by the enterprise are, one cannot just count all visitor expenditure as if
they were all attributable to that enterprise.
In the case of attractions, impacts certainly comprise both effects of visitors’ expenditures
at the attraction (on-site expenditures) and effects of other expenditures in the area by the
attraction visitors (off-site expenditures). A major problem is to separate off-site
expenditures that are caused by the attraction’s existence from those that are not.
As pointed out in chapter 1.2, the study focuses on this problem – the estimation of
attributable expenditures and the factors that influence them. We are fully aware of the
fact that visitor expenditures are just the starting point in impact studies, but nevertheless
we discuss neither employment features nor indirect and induced effects of attractions in
this report. Some comments should, however, be made here on these issues.
Both on-site and off-site expenditures initially produce direct effects. Effects caused by offsite
expenditures are often confusingly referred to as indirect effects in enterprise impact
studies, but should be considered as direct effects. Indirect and induced effects of single
enterprises occur in the same way as indirect and induced effects of tourism in general,
which means that, once the attributable expenditures are estimated, the path to estimation
of total impacts is the same as in any impact study.
Naturally, both direct, indirect and induced effects may be influenced by specific
characteristics of the attraction (or the specific enterprise). For example, there may be
stronger seasonality in employment in theme parks than in other tourism industries.
Generally, there are reasons to believe that the ratio between expenditures and
employment, value added or other impact measures will differ substantially across parks,
and across different types of areas.
Anyway, these issues are not featured in this study. It would certainly be an interesting
next step to investigate how the total effects on employment, value added, etc, may also
depend on the characteristics of the attraction and its spatial and functional features.
3.2 Interrelations and Causalities – A Model Framework
The initial discussion (chapter 2) placed the variables that are assumed to influence
attraction visitor area expenditures within four groups; an attraction concept, a host area
context, a tourism industry context and an attraction’s market context, respectively. This
can be formulated graphically in a simple model as presented in figure 1, where the arrows
between the boxes indicate directions of influence.
The attraction and its contexts represents elements (or comprises elements) of a tourism
system (where the tourist is placed within the market context), and as such they are interlinked.
14 Hence, there are also several explanatory variables that must be interrelated. The
thin arrows between the context boxes in figure 1 indicate these relationships. The model
is not designed for an econometric approach, causalities are studied on the background of
some attraction examples. The problems of high variable interrelation indeed require a
much more detailed specification of variables and relations if a more quantitative approach
is requested.
The model initially expresses that the numbers of different types of visitor can be seen as
functions of the conceptual and contextual variables. The volumes of expenditures
(equivalent to the business receipts from tourists) are functions of the visitor numbers and
of the supply side characteristics (product diversification, quality, prices, etc.). The box
indicating supply of goods and services is a helpful sub-group of supply-side
characteristics of the tourism industry and the host area.
A market box, linking the visitors attributable to the attraction and the various firms
supplying goods and services in the area indicates the economic transactions
expenditures/business receipts. The bottom boxes of the figure indicate that expenditures
are operationally divided into staying visitor, day visitor and local visitor expenditures,
The nature of the tourism system and the inter-linkages between different elements,
underline the complexity of studying causalities. Some comments should be made on the
relationships indicated in the top row of figure 1.
The concept of a manufactured attraction is normally adapted to socio-economic
characteristics and the expressed needs and preferences of its markets (based on market
surveys). Put another way, the attraction concept is usually aimed at certain parts of the
population and excludes others to whom the concept has no appeal.
Like the attraction, the rest of the tourism industry in the area (capacity, diversity, etc.)
will also be adapted to meet the characteristics of the market. In the case of larger
attractions, parts of the industry will be designed to supply products complementary to the
attraction (for instance accommodation capacity and location, smaller attractions, etc.).
The capacities and diversification of the tourism industry is otherwise determined by the
size of te host area chosen for a study – if extended, it is likely that more tourism
enterprises will be included. The size of the area chosen for impact studies also plays an
14 Cooper et al., 1993, p. 5.
important role in terms of actual impacts, the larger the size, the more likely there is
competition within the area.
The arrow from the visitor number box to the tourism industry box indicates the direct
influence of the number of attraction visitors on the supply of tourism products in the area.
The capacity of the tourism industry within an area, which so directly influences the
volume of expenditures in the area, develops from the observed and the expected visitor
volumes. To some degree the host area variables will also be influenced, for instance in
terms of improved road and parking facilities, extended supply of services (petrol stations,
Figure 1. A basic model framework
Visitors attributable to
the attraction;
Numbers of visitors
Types of visitors
Characteristics of
supply of goods and
services in study area
Staying visitor
Day visitor
Local visitor
The interaction between changes in visitor numbers and product development and
investments in the local tourism industry is just an example of the dynamics of demand
and supply, well described in economic market theory and in economic growth theory.
3.3 Visitor Expenditure Additionality and Displacement
The study focus on the expenditures attributable to the attraction, in other words the
transfer of demand to the area caused by the attraction. This is labelled the visitor
expenditure additionality of the attraction. Visitor additionality concerns the number or
proportion of visitors attributable to the attraction, i.e. visitors who would not have come
to the area if the attraction did not exist. Visitor expenditure additionality initially
expresses these visitors’ expenditures in the area, divided into on-site expenditures and
off-site expenditures, respectively. However, the existence of a major attraction may also
generate additional (on-site) expenditures from visitors who primarily came to the area for
reasons other than seeing the flagship attraction. Likewise, local visitors’ on-site
expenditures may under certain assumptions (see below) be regarded as additional
expenditures in the area. The proportions of these expenditures that really are additional
expenditures depend, however, on the degree of visitor expenditure displacement.
Visitor displacement refers to cases where the attraction visit substitutes or in other ways
replaces consumption of other products in the area, i.e. there is a transfer of consumption
from other businesses in the area (or in other areas) to the attraction. This is the flip side
of the coin – not all revenues at the attraction can come as fresh money from the outside
world, and such displacement reduces what initially appears to be the economic impact of
the attraction. The larger the area considered, the more likely it is that the attraction will
draw visitors from similar attractions elsewhere,15 or more generally, draw spending from
businesses elsewhere in the area.
There are two different aspects of visitor additionality that initially have to be explained.
The visitor pull effect of an attraction may firstly be seen in relation to the total number of
visitors to an area, which can be considered as the direct route to examining the relative
importance of the attraction for the area. The total tourist expenditure in the area may be
expressed as T = A + R,16 where A denotes the expenditures at the attraction (on-site) and
R denotes all other tourist expenditures (off-site) in the area. Disregarding visitor
displacement, the attraction attributable expenditures may then be expressed as B = A +
xR, where x is the visitor additionality factor (relative pull effect). The variables in this
equation may be estimated from visitor surveys in the area.
For various reasons surveys are often limited to visitors at the particular attraction only,
which is also the case for the empirical material to be analysed in this paper. Hence, the
pull effect is seen in relation to the number of visitors to the particular attraction, and the
15 Wanhill 1996a, p. 16.
16 Wanhill 1996a, pp. 4-5.
visitor additionality factor expresses the proportion of attraction visitors attributable to the
attraction. The benefits of the attraction to the area can be estimated, but to examine the
relative importance for the area, total tourist numbers and the corresponding expenditures
in the area must be derived from other sources.
3.4 The expenditure estimation model
An estimation framework will now be presented on the basis of the attraction visitor
survey approach. The essential features of expenditure additionality and displacement are
specified in figure 2. Visitors are grouped into outside visitors (who are either attributable
to the attraction or not) and local visitors. By specification of a geographical area, the
question of who are outside visitors and who are local visitors is defined by the visitor’s
permanent address. The table refers to expenditures inside the specific geographic area for
which economic impacts are studied.
For visitors coming to the area exclusively because of the attraction (who would not have
come otherwise), all expenditures in the area are attributable to the attraction, and
expenditure displacement is nonexistent by definition. Such displacement will in any case
occur from businesses outside the area in question.
For flagship attraction visitors who may not be categorised that distinctively, as well as for
local visitors, the existence of displacement is evident – but relatively complicated to
For local residents expenditure displacement is assumed to be significant because the
household’s expenditures are normally subordinated to a budget constraint, i.e.
expenditures at the attraction will have an equivalent decrease in other expenditures,
although not necessarily in tourism related expenditures. If an attraction visit in the local
area replaces tourism expenditures outside the area only, there will be full local
expenditure additionality. The same argument may be used whenever the attraction
expenditures replace consumption of other products or services imported to the area.
Figure 2. Visitors at a particular attraction: Visitor expenditure additionality and
visitor expenditure displacement within the local area of the attraction
Attraction Expenditure additionality Expenditure displacement
visitor category on-site expenditures off-site expenditures in area
Outside visitors attributable
to the attraction
100 per cent 100 per cent nil
Outside visitors staying in
area for other reason than
the attraction
partly; depending
on budget and/ or time
nil partly; depending on budget and/or
time flexibility
Attraction visitors who are
local residents
partly; depending
on budget flexibility
nil partly; depending on budget
These issues are roughly the same when focusing on outside visitors who would have come
regardless of the flagship attraction, but holiday budgets are usually more flexible.17
Displacement will to a larger extent affect spending outside the area and outside the
limited period of time the visitor is actually staying inside the area. Many visitors,
however, may face a time constraint that excludes visiting one or more other sites in the
area that would otherwise have been visited.
Off-site expenditure additionality of local residents and outside visitors who would have
come regardless of the flagship attraction is assumed to be nil. Some of the off-site
expenditures may occur in relation to the attraction visit, for instance food or petrol
purchase on the actual trip. These will probably be larger the larger the defined local area.
However, one faces the same displacement arguments as for the on-site expenditures, and
this expenditure additionality element should be assumed to be negligible.
3.4.1 The case study approach – no displacement
Estimation of visitor displacement effects present significant methodological problems,
reliable results will depend on the ability to achieve accurate information from tourists and
local residents on issues like visiting preferences (if for instance an attraction did not
exist), budgets, budget flexibility and time at disposal for area visit. The pragmatic, and
certainly more practicable, estimation approach is to focus on the total expenditure
additionality and assume zero displacement, thus counting the benefits as:
·  on-site expenditures by all visitors, being the attraction’s total visitor revenues, plus
·  the off-site expenditures of the visitors who meet the definition of visitor additionality.
The off-site expenditures of the latter are assumed to be different for different types of
visitors. Here, the visitors will be categorised as additional day visitors and additional
staying visitors (minimum one night spent in the area), respectively.
Hence the benefits – the visitor expenditure additionality – may be expressed as
17 Cousin Stephens, 1992.
(1) B = R + adVXd + asVDXs
where R is the attraction’s revenues, ad and as are the coefficients expressing the
attraction’s pull factor (the visitor additionality factors) for day and staying attraction
visitors, respectively. V denotes the total number of visitors, Xd and Xs are the individual
daily off-site expenditures of the visitors attributable to the attraction. D denotes the
number of days in area for stay visitors.18 The expressions adV and asV here denote the
number of day visitors and stay visitors attributable to the attraction, respectively.
The Norwegian case studies’ estimations of economic impacts were based on this
simplified approach, indeed displacement issues were not taken into consideration or
discussed at all.
The off-site attributable expenditures as expressed in equation (1) cover a conglomerate of
different types of expenditures. The attraction concepts and contexts may differently
influence the volume of each type of expenditure inside the area. The influence regards
both the volume of expenditures and the proportion of visitor spending inside and outside
the area in question, respectively.
To make it possible to discuss and understand how off-site expenditure volumes are
determined, it is necessary to study different types of expenditures separately. The
following disaggregation of the individual daily expenditures Xd and Xs was used in the
Norwegian theme park case studies. It is assumed to reveal the most important expenditure
Xaj = accommodation costs
Xtj = transport costs, including petrol, garage expenses, etc.
Xfj = food and beverages (catering)
Xsj = shopping (including groceries)
Xoj = other attractions and activities
Xmj = miscellaneous costs (health care, telephone, etc.)
(j = d,s)
The total attributable benefits estimated in the Norwegian theme park cases can be
expressed as
(2) B = R + adV(Xad + … + Xmd) + asVD(Xas + … + Xas)
18 Evidently some staying visitors make more than one visit to the attraction during their stay in the area. Double
counting may be avoided by including a question in visitor surveys.
3.4.2 The general approach including displacement
The more general approach, however, should also include discussions of expenditure
displacement. According to table 1, the types of expenditures to be discussed in both an
additionality and a displacement context are limited to on-site expenditures of local
attraction visitors and outside (non-local) attraction visitors whose presence in the area is
not initiated by the attraction visit.
The on-site expenditures ( attraction revenues) value R consists of three elements,
(3) R = Y + Z + L
where Y is the on-site expenditures of visitors drawn to the area by the attraction, Z is the
on-site expenditures of other visitors from outside the area, and L is the local visitors’ onsite
Assuming that there is a visitor displacement involved in the expenditures Z and L,
equation (3) will be transformed to
(4) Ra = Y + (1-d1)Z + (1-d2)L
where Ra is the total attributable on-site expenditures, and d1 and d2 are coefficients
expressing the displacement rate of expenditures inside the area for outside and local
visitors, respectively.
Now, the total attributable benefits – in terms of attributable expenditures – can be
expressed as
(5) Ba = Y + (1-d1)Z + (1-d2)L + adV(Xad + Xmd) + asVD(Xas + … + Xas)
The equation (5) gives the basic principal framework for estimation of the expenditures
that is the basis for estimation of different types of impacts (employment, value added,
etc.). The equation also provides the basis for discussions of methodological problems of
expenditure estimation, as it presents the essential elements to be considered in such an
In the case studies, the values of R (total revenues) and V (total number of visitors) in
equation (2) were known. The variables to be estimated were the additionality factors ad
and as, and each of the off-site expenditure variables Xaj to Xmj (j = d,s). The general study
framework modelled in equation (5) identifies also the visitor numbers Y, Z and L (in total
equalling V) and the displacement factors d1 and d2 as variables to be discussed in view of
attraction concepts and contexts.
3.5 Some Comments on Estimation of Additionality
Evidently, there is some uncertainty linked to estimation of visitor additionality. The
problem formulation is usually whether the individual tourist’s visit to the specified area is
attributable to a particular attraction or not, or in some cases to what degree it is
attributable. In most examples, such estimation is based on individual visitors’ statements
on purpose of travel to a specific area.
The traveller’s decision process about where to go and whether to go somewhere may
comprise a number of different considerations and motives. The individual perception of
one’s own motives and attitudes may in many cases be too diffuse, so that the tourist
him/herself may not be able to come up with the true answer even when facing precisely
formulated options in a survey questionnaire. (Particularly) for people on holiday, most
attractions are part of one or another hierarchical system of places to see. Essential
attraction theories (see chapter 2.4) categorise attractions as primary, secondary and
tertiary nuclei.19 A primary nucleus or core attraction is defined as a type of element that
is influential in a traveller’s decision about where to go. Secondary nuclei may be
attractions that are less influential; they are, however, also known about by the tourists in
advance and may also be part of the traveller’s decision.
Besides this, the tourist’s motivation may also comprise other elements as well as
attractions. For example, the visitor may have friends or relatives living in the area, or
may have access to a holiday home in the area.
In many cases one may also observe that, as a destination develops, the interaction
between the major or original attraction and other activities and facilities may become
more integrated. The attractivity of the destination may eventually be linked more to the
overall destination concept and less to the original attraction.
In essence, the methodological challenge is to transform individual qualitative
considerations into reliable expressions that may further be turned into numeric (and
aggregated) values. Clearly, most methods usually have to be based on comprehensive
simplifications. A common approach is the use of various stated or revealed preference
techniques, which requires precise questions and statement alternatives that also have to
be matched by a fairly high individual consciousness as regards the tourist’s own
In the Norwegian theme park surveys the visitors were asked whether the park visit was
the major reason for travelling to the actual area,20 whether it was a minor reason or no
reason at all, i.e. a rather simple multiple-choice approach was used, in this case
restricting expenditure additionality to those who stated major reason only. The method
19 Leiper, 1990.
20 Dybedal and Engebretsen, 1996.
may have worked well in recording day visitors’ motives; however, there is an air of
uncertainty left as regards the real motives of the relatively large proportion of visitors on
An example of more sophisticated investigation is cited by Wanhill,21 a two-step approach
used by Johnson and Thomas.22 Firstly, day visitors were asked whether they had visited,
or planned to visit, anywhere else in the area that day. The expenditures of those who said
no were counted as attributable to the particular attraction. Those who answered yes were
asked whether they would still have visited the area if the attraction had not existed. No
was interpreted as if the visitors’ expenditures were fully attributable, and yes excluded
any attribution. For staying visitors the questions were analogously formulated as would
you still have stayed in the area if the attraction did not exist? and would you have
reduced your stay if the attraction did not exist?
By both methods the additionality factor of day visitors is considerably higher than that of
staying visitors. Initially this reflects day visitors’ simpler decision – making process –
there are few or no other potential activities involved as reasons for going to a particular
place on a particular day. For staying visitors the question arises of whether values of
additionality are under- or overestimated. In the Norwegian study values are more likely to
be too high than too low because the additionality scoring option was formulated as major
reason. In the Beamish study by Johnson and Thomas the questioning was more definitive
as to whether the attraction visit was the only reason for coming or not. Thus, this method
presumably leads to a less biased estimate.
The uncertainty of staying visitors’ motives will normally be smaller the less developed
and/or smaller the size of the area for which impacts are analysed. This is because there
will be a smaller number of other attractions or other reasons for travelling to the area –
and it is easier for the visitor to answer yes or no. Another reason why small areas produce
less uncertainty in this matter is the fact that the proportion of staying visitors within the
area is reduced. A larger proportion of visitors will be classified as day visitors to the area
– travelling from home or from a holiday stay in places outside the defined area. This is
particularly evident in some of the Norwegian cases – substantial proportions of visitors
are people on holiday in surrounding areas.
21 Wanhill, 1996, pp. 5-7.
22 Johnson and Thomas, 1992.
4. Theme Parks – an Overview
4.1 Theme Park Concepts and Definitions
Amusement park, pleasure park, leisure park, holiday park, recreation park, theme park.
These are some of the labels describing sites designed to attract the visitor who wants to
spend the day in an atmosphere of amusement, entertainment and new experiences. The
term theme park seems to have become the most common label. Although neither a
trademark nor a product subject to an agreed definition, this term is generally preferred by
the industry itself to the somewhat broader terms like leisure park or amusement park.
There are numerous types of themes (and even lack of themes) to be found in different
parks all over the world, which to some degree may explain the absence of a common
definition or a trademark. Regardless, the impression is that the term theme park is subject
to a common understanding and recognition in the various visitor markets.
The various Disney parks are the largest, and probably the best known, theme parks in the
world. Walt Disney once said, I want the public to feel they are in another world. The
Disney application of the theme park principle is to motivate visitors (especially families)
during a day or more, to make them dream. The subconscious and the imagination of
people is caught through the variation of one theme in a series of sub-themes and the
multiplicity of side-shows whose scenic arrangement is organised in minute detail.23
Within this tradition, the large American theme parks24 are consistently built around a
basic theme, even if the theme is simply roller-coaster rides (for instance Six Flags’
Magic Mountain in Los Angeles).
In Europe there is generally a looser interpretation of theme parks than in the USA, where
the term originated. Some studies include all large-scale pleasure parks offering rides,
amusement and entertainment.25 Some definitions and definition attempts,26 that to some
extent indicate the conceptual core of a theme park, are presented here.
John Broome, of Alton Towers in the UK, has defined the theme park (or rather the
business idea of a theme park) as:
A modern leisure park, the basic fairground approach, put into a better setting, dealt
with on a far more sophisticated level, with charm and charisma and not just orientated to
just one small sector of the market – but to the whole family.
23 Croizé, 1989, p. 459.
24 E.g. Six Flags, Knott’s Berry Farm, etc.
25 For instance McEniff, 1993, p. 52.
26 Richards, 1994.
A relatively concrete definition27 describes a theme park as a park consisting of rides and
attractions that are built around a central theme or themes. A more functional approach28
suggests that theme parks are characterised by the presentation of entertainment, activities,
retailing and catering within a theme. What the visitor buys is a specially designed
The range of theme parks and the contents of the theme park product are constantly being
developed. Most parks are incorporating technological innovations in new types of rides,
shows and games. At the same time, nature reserves and cultural sites are also
incorporated in family park concepts, often in an educational context, stretching the theme
park concept even further. There are several examples of recently developed attractions,
based on or including nature and cultural features, that are approaching a theme park
concept or at least approaching the theme park markets.
For instance in Denmark there are Kattegatcenteret (aquarium), the Medieval Centre in
Spøttrup, Jespershus Flower Park, Natur Bornholm (Nature Centre of Bornholm), Randers
(artificial) Rain Forest and Ribe Viking Centre. Although spectacular rides are more or
less absent, and they are nowhere near the capacity and the attendance of the Tivoli
Gardens or Legoland, these so-called adventure centres are approaching the theme park
In the UK, a number of zoos or safari parks have evolved into major theme parks
(Chessington World of Adventures, Thorpe Park and Flamingoland). Also a number of
heritage centres, including serious museums (for instance Beamish), have been developed
in a direction that may be interpreted (or experienced by the visitors) as theme parks.
The variety of themes and types of attractions is increasing, rather than decreasing.
Richards29 concludes that, in relation to the problem of making precise conceptual
definitions, it is most appropriate to define theme parks in terms of a series of
characteristics. The following criteria are proposed:
·  Primarily an outdoor attraction;
·  A visitor destination in its own right;
·  Based on rides, which are operated as a single management unit;
·  Generally makes an admission charge or all-inclusive ride charge, which covers the
use of all the major facilities in the park;
·  Constructed around the needs of visitors, rather than relying on natural features;
·  Focussed on entertainment rather than education.
27 Mintel, quoted in Richards, 1994.
28 Robinson, quoted in Richards, 1994.
29 Richards, 1994.
The criterion that the park should be a visitor destination in its own right is an important
feature. It indicates that the theme park term is also a matter of scale, usually a major
attraction in its local area or region. It has to have a relatively large capacity, both in terms
of space and in terms of attraction variety (number of rides and specific attractions) to be a
theme park.
Some comments should also be made about the all-inclusive admission fee criterion. From
a park’s point of view this is mainly a question of what is an optimal pricing structure.
Several parks charge an admission fee which does not include all attractions, in the sense
that they operate with a separate fee for some of the major rides or other attractions in the
park. However, a criterion implying some type of general admission fee is useful to
separate theme parks from, for instance, free entry public fairgrounds where each
attraction charges a separate admission fee.
Richards’ definition was primarily made to distinguish theme parks from leisure parks and
other visitor attractions. The definition presented is in accordance with the broader
European idea of a theme park as indicated by McEniff. The looser type of definition
expressed by John Broome (cited on the previous page) emphasises the atmosphere offered
to the customer rather than the specific types of activities offered, regardless of the pricing
system. A combination of these definitions – stressing that parks are not necessarily based
on rides, and putting the emphasis also on educational elements – is probably an adequate
interpretation of the general European perception of a theme park.
Even Richards’ definition more or less avoids the problem of addressing what constitutes a
theme. Some parks have multiple themes or simply a general idea of family entertainment,
amusement and a social day out atmosphere. An analysis of parks and park visitors in
Scandinavia30 concludes that out of 17 major leisure parks only Legoland in Denmark was
a theme park in the sense that it was built around one particular theme. The rest were zoos
or safari parks and amusement or leisure parks.
The combined Richards/Broome definition, however, implies that most of the
Scandinavian parks included in the study mentioned above31 may be referred to as theme
parks. Reviews of theme parks in Europe32 show that parks based on nature/animal
features, water activities or cultural heritage may also be counted as theme parks, provided
there is a general admission fee, a certain capacity and a broad range of facilities.
The four major Norwegian parks analysed later in this study are examples of parks that are
conceptually different (one waterland, one leisure park based on exotic animals, rides and
family entertainment shows, one amusement park and one that is more an
educational/playground family park). However, they have the same kind of atmosphere
30 Engebretsen, 1990.
31 Engebretsen, 1990.
32 Also by Richards and McEniff.
and attract the same basic segments – the whole family.
Although small or medium-size by international standards – between 250,000 and 500,000
annual visitors – they all present themselves as theme parks. The management of each park
emphasises that the label is the most adequate for the image they want to present to the
market. In other words, they want the potential visitor’s perception of the park to be in
accordance with what they believe is a certain standard or quality stamp. As most of the
parks they want to be compared with (in other countries) are known as theme parks, the
Norwegian parks want to place themselves under the same umbrella.
4.2 Theme Parks in Europe
Modern theme parks began to develop in Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, parallel to
growth in leisure time and disposable incomes and the increased mobility among
consumers.33 Some major parks have, however, existed for many years before that, later
being reshaped or developed into a different concept (for instance Alton Towers, and
several parks that were originally traditional zoos).
Until the 1980s theme parks were particularly a Northern European (UK, Germany,
Holland, Belgium and Scandinavia) phenomenon. A 1987 EIU survey of major European
theme parks34 included only two French parks and none from southern Europe. There are
still relatively few parks in the Mediterranean countries, but the scene is rapidly changing.
In France, the opening of the Parc Asterix in 1989 and, particularly, Euro Disney in 1992
introduced a new development stage. Also in Italy and Spain there was a considerable
increase in theme park investment from the early 1990s. There are relatively few megaparks
in Europe, parks that have an international importance. Euro Disney outside Paris
represents the peak as regards number of visitors, reaching 8-10 million yearly (eight
million in the opening year). There are a number of parks attracting more than one million
visitors, but none that can match the size and importance of Euro Disney. Figures for
current visitor numbers in European parks are not available; however, comparable
attendance figures for 1992 are shown in table 1.
The figures in table 1 are probably not complete, but it is believed to give a good overview
of the scale of theme parks in Europe. The International Association of Amusement Parks
and Attractions (IAAPA) estimated in 1992 that there were 63 parks in Europe with
annual attendance of more than 500,000.35 The total number of theme parks in each
European country is not known. The Europarks organisation had over 200 members in
1993, including of course many with fewer than 500,000 annual visitors, and the number
has most likely increased significantly during the 1990s.
33 McEniff, 1993, p. 59.
34 McEniff, 1993, p. 59.
35 McEniff, 1993.
The number of large theme parks depends also on the definition. One could for instance
ask whether Copenhagen’s Tivoli is a theme park because the admission fee is relatively
low and does not include rides or other fairground activities. Several of the large
traditional pleasure parks in the UK are not included (in the source material) because there
is free entry and pay as you go. This includes for instance Blackpool Pleasure Beach (6.5
mill.) and Palace Pier in Brighton (3.5 mill.). On the other hand, the list includes sites that
are basically zoos and safari parks which, according to McEniff, may be classified as
theme parks.
The figures in table 1 give the impression that, even in the largest countries in Europe,
there is a market for only 4-5 parks with an annual attendance significantly higher than
one million. There are, however, a corresponding number of other parks (2-5) in the UK,
Germany, Belgium and Holland that reached between 700,000 and one million visitors in
Table 1. Attendance at major European theme parks 1992
Park 5. Visitor numbers 1992
Euro Disney, France 8,000,000
Copenhagen Tivoli, Denmark 4,000,000
Parque de Atracciones Casa de Campo, Spain 2,700,000
Efteling, Holland 2,523,000
Alton Towers, UK 2,500,000
Phantasialand, Germany 2,200,000
Europa Park Rust, Germany 2,100,000
Heide Park, Germany 2,000,000
Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark, Germany 1,800,000
Noorder Dierenpark, Holland 1,700,000
Walibi Wavre, Belgium 1,450,000
Frontierland, UK 1,300,000
Euroscope, France 1,300,000
Duinrell, Holland 1,200,000
Burgers’ Zoo & Safari 1,200,000
Holiday Park Hassloch, Germany 1,200,000
Legoland, Denmark 1,180,000
Chessington World of Adventures, UK 1,170,000
Madurodam, Holland 1,100,000
Thorpe Park, UK 1,026,000
Parque de Atracciones Tibidabo, Spain 1,000,000
Parc Asterix, France 1,000,000
Pony Park Slaghaven, Holland 1,000,000
Source: Europarks’ data, supplemented by Economist Intelligence Unit survey.
4.3 Theme Parks in Denmark and Norway
Denmark has a large number of parks that may be classified as theme parks. A recent
study carried out by the Danish Tourist Board36 has registered all major Danish
36 Danish Tourist Board, 1997.
attractions, of which several can be classified as theme parks when applying the broad
Richards/Broome definition (see above). As regards the definitional question of scale, we
have included here parks with visitor numbers exceeding 200,000 in 1996.
The classification categories that comprise possible theme parks are (translated from
Danish by the author) Amusement Park/Family Fun Centre, Zoo/safari Park, Aquarium
and Educational Activity Centre. Table 2 does not include attractions that are leisure parks
without admission fee, traditional museums or traditional zoos.
The number of theme parks and visitors is remarkably high compared to the small Danish
population (appr. 5.3 million inhabitants). Denmark is also a relatively small country
(43,000 square kilometres), which implies that there is a high density of attractions.
There are only four parks in Norway having the scale and concepts to be considered a
theme park (table 3). There is a growth in small size family leisure parks, and there are
some large heritage centres and outdoor museums, but no other attractions yet that may be
counted as theme parks in the sense discussed in this study. All four parks are included in
the case studies to be presented in chapters 5, 6 and 7.
4.4 Theme Parks Markets in Central vs. Peripheral Areas
The general picture in Europe is that visits to theme parks are to a large extent made on a
day-trip basis. Major theme park developments in e.g. the UK in recent years are generally
located at non-resort destinations, where the key factor is the size of the population within
a catchment area of two hours’ driving.
Studies of the largest theme parks in the UK37 indicate that most parks attract 80 % or
more of their business from within a two-hour travel zone, and that most of the parks have
at least 11 million people within the two-hour zone.
An analysis by the English Tourist Board in 199238 holds the existence of a large regional
population to be a major criterion for location of new parks in the UK:
·  The location should be within two hour’s drive of 12 million residents, or within one
hour’s drive of major holiday destinations and two hour’s drive of 5-6 million
37 Quoted in Richards, 1994.
38 Quoted in McEniff, 1993.
Table 2. Theme parks in Denmark 1996
Attraction Category 5. Attendance 1996
Copenhagen Tivoli Amusement park/family fun centre 3,100,000
Legoland, Billund Amusement park/family fun centre 1,295,000
Professor Olsens Spilleland, Copenhagen Family fun centre (games) 650,000
Kattegatcenteret, Grenå Aquarium 437,000
Bonbon-land, Sjælland Amusement park/family fun centre 406,000
Fårup Sommerland og Aquapark, Amusement park/family fun centre 316,000
Djurs Sommerland, Djursland Amusement park/family fun centre 310,000
Jespershus Blomsterpark, Mors Amusement park/family fun centre 310,000
Tivoli Friheden, Århus Amusement park/family fun centre 278,000
Knuthenborg Safari Park, Lolland Zoo/safari park 275,000
The Lion Park, Givskud Zoo/safari park 270,000
Experimentarium, Sjælland Educational activity centre 269,000
Tivoliland, Ålborg Amusement park/family fun centre 207,900
Skive badeland, Skive Amusement park/family fun centre 203,000
Randers Regnskov Educational activity centre 200,000
Source: Danish Tourist Board.
Table 3. Norwegian theme parks 1996
Attraction Type of park Attendance 1996
Kristiansand Dyrepark Amusement park/family fun centre/zoo 481,000
TusenFryd Amusement park/family fun centre/Viking
Hunderfossen Familiepark Family fun centre/educational activities 267,000
Telemark Sommarland Amusement park/family fun centre/waterland 203,000
Source: NORTRA.
Three other main criteria are stated and concern motorway access, access to regional
commercial television and the number of parks within the same area.
It should be noted that these population numbers seem to concern parks aiming at around
one million annual attendance, possibly applying the common rule of thumb saying that
around 10 % of the regional population may be expected to visit a large theme park
Annual attendances of more than one million are not common at parks in Scandinavian
countries. The Tivoli and Legoland, and the pleasure parks in Stockholm (Grøna
Lund/Skansen) and Gothenburg (Liseberg) constitute a few exceptions. Their position as
international flagship attractions and/or national fairgrounds is, however, not likely to be
copied by any concept in more peripheral areas.
The above-mentioned criteria also emphasise the visitor potential among tourists. The
market among tourists is not unimportant in central areas, but the tourist markets are
crucial for parks in the peripheral areas. The tourist markets comprise mainly daytrip
visitors from a holiday destination or resort within driving distance, or short break visitors.
The latter constitute an increasing theme park market. Such trips may have the park only
as a visiting target, or there may be a cluster of attractions or other leisure activities within
a specific area that the visitors want to experience during a short holiday trip. In
particular, Euro Disney has focused on this market by investing in large accommodation
capacity within the park – hotels that may also be attractions on their own.
The normal Danish and Norwegian theme parks attract between 200,000 and 500,000
annual visitors. In terms of population density, most parks are located in peripheral areas.
Except for parks in the eastern parts of Denmark (near the Copenhagen area) there are no
parks where the population within two hour’s drive is large enough to explain the parks’
actual attendance.
In table 4 a distance of 150 kilometres is considered equal to two hour’s drive, and has
been used to make estimates of population within two hour’s drive. The Danish parks
(except the Tivoli) are all located in Jutland. The Norwegian Parks are all located in the
southeast parts of the country.
Table 4 indirectly indicates the importance of the tourist markets in both countries. For
none of the parks is there a regional population exceeding six times the number of visitors;
for some parks the visitor numbers even exceed the regional population number. It should
be noted here that the population figures for each park in table 4 include all residents
within 150 kilometres, regardless of area and population overlap.
In Denmark, the basic summer tourism concept (outside the city tourism of Copenhagen)
is holidays in seaside resorts, with accommodation in privately owned or rented
summerhouses, in camping sites and in countryside hotels.
The population figures in table 4 (and the total population of 5.3 million) indicate that
there must also be large numbers of foreign tourists supplementing the domestic market.
Copenhagen is of coursean international tourist destination, while Legoland is a unique
and internationally well known children’s attraction and definitely a holiday destination in
its own right. The other Danish attractions listed in table 4, as well as most of the others
listed in table 2, also benefit from seasonal resort tourists. The Danish domestic market is
fairly important, but there are also a substantial number of resort visitors from Germany,
Sweden and Norway.
Table 4. Population within 150 kilometres. Danish and Norwegian theme parks 1996
Theme park Population 1996 attendance Population/ attendance ratio
TusenFryd, Oslo 1,565,000 421,000 3.72
Telemark Sommarland, South-east Norway* 866,000 203,000 4.27
Kristiansand Dyrepark, Southern Norway 258,000 481,000 0.54
Hunderfossen Familiepark, Lillehammer 306,000 267,000 1.15
Legoland, Denmark, Central Jutland 2,410,000 1,295,000 1.87
Tivoli, Copenhagen ** 2,050,000 3,100,000 0.67
Fårup Sommerland, North Jutland 1,220,000 316,000 3.86
Djurs Sommerland, East Jutland 1,695,000 310,000 5.47
Jespershus Blomsterpark, North/West Jutland 1,633,000 310,000 5.27
* Including 1/3 of the population in Oslo, which has its centre 150 kilometres from the park.
** Not including residents in Swedish territories.
The short driving distances in Denmark and the large number of tourists imply that each
attraction’s catchment area comprises fairly high seasonal population numbers. The short
distances also imply that the competition is hard, there is a substantial degree of overlap in
the various attractions’ catchment areas.
The situation is somewhat different in Norway. The country is eight times larger than
Denmark and has a population of four million people, which limits the possible locations
of theme parks or other attractions dependent on a certain minimum population within
driving distance.
Although there is a large amount of foreign tourists in the summer season, the theme
parks so far almost exclusively appeal to the domestic population. One reason for this is
that round trips covering large areas (with short stops at a large number of sites) rather
than resort holidays dominate in-coming tourism. Another obvious reason is that Norway
attracts foreign tourists in summer mainly because of the country’s nature and cultural
The typical market characteristic of the peripheral area parks is that their attendance
includes a substantial number of tourists, who compensate for the absence of a large
regional population. The domestic market, besides the day-trip visitors, consist of both
people on holiday in summer resorts, visitors on short break trips or people on round trip
holidays. Nearly all the regions in Norway are represented among the park visitors.
Consequently, to exploit the limited market potentials, theme parks in Norway are located
in order to attract – more or less – all these market segments.
To be able to attract a sufficient number of non-residents – in other words short break or
holiday visitors – the park initially has to be located in a region that is attractive and
accessible and also has the capacity to host a large number of tourists. Generally, theme
park location in peripheral areas should be in accordance with the following types of
·  Within day trip driving distance (150 kilometres) from at least regional population
·  Within short break trip driving distance from national population centres;
·  Near summer holiday resorts – preferably seaside resorts or other resorts with water
·  By, or with easy access to, a major road route;
·  Near other basic leisure activities or in attraction clusters.
These prerequisites are necessary, but may not be sufficient. The viability of the parks in
Denmark and Norway seems also to be dependent on the parks’ ability to attract nonresident
visitors to the area by own efforts. Which implies that the park also has to be
sufficiently attractive, large and diversified in terms of facilities on offer, to constitute a
national visiting site. Considering for instance the volumes of the Norwegian domestic
markets, it is not sufficient that there is a population of tourists that constitute a visitor
potential once they have arrived. To achieve the necessary visitor numbers, there must be a
high proportion of tourists who actually come to the area to visit the park.
5. Introduction to the Theme Parks Studies
5.1 Theme Parks: Major Norwegian Tourist Attractions
In 1995 the Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) carried out visitor studies in the four
major Norwegian leisure parks.39 The four parks that were included in the study are all
among the 20 most visited of all tourist attractions in Norway. Among attractions charging
admission fees, they were all in the top nine of the NORTRA40 national attraction visitor
list in 1996. No other leisure parks in Norway have anywhere near the visitor numbers of
these parks.
Table 5. Top ten admission fee attractions in Norway. Numbers of visitors 1996 and
Attraction 1997 1996
Kristiansand Dyrepark 448,000 481,000
TusenFryd (including visitors at separate park VikingLandet) 370,000 421,000
Fløibanen funicular railroad, Bergen * 468,900 414,000
The Viking ship museum, Oslo 346,000 378,000
Flåmsbanen mountain/fjord railway line ** 283,000 289,000
Hunderfossen Familiepark, Lillehammer 255,000 267,000
The Fram polar ship museum, Oslo 191,000 225,000
The Kon-Tiki museum, Oslo 211,000 218,000
Telemark Sommarland, Bø in Telemark 249,000 203,000
The North Cape Hall, North Cape 177,000 190,000
* Single trips. Transportation of local residents also included.
** Single trips.
Three of the case parks are attractions that are generally considered flagships of their
home regions. They are Hunderfossen Familiepark at Lillehammer, Telemark
Sommarland in Bø and Kristiansand Dyrepark. The three flagship parks normally have
opening seasons from May to August or September.
The fourth park in the TØI study was TusenFryd, outside Oslo. Its location close to the
city of Oslo implies a large number of local visitors and a large proportion of outside
visitors with many other types of motivation for travelling to the Oslo area other than
visiting the park. Although the park is strongly marketed, it is not a flagship attraction for
the Oslo area in the sense discussed previously in this study. Including some main results
from this park in the analysis, however, adds a useful dimension to the understanding of
39 Dybedal and Engebretsen, 1996.
40 The Norwegian Tourist Board.
5.2 The Theme Park Survey
The main objectives of the original theme park survey were to reveal visitor and market
characteristics, and to compare results with a similar study undertaken in 1989.
Assessment of primary local economic impacts was a sub-objective only, and the
estimation of off-site expenditures to some degree followed the estimation framework
presented in chapter 4 of this study. However, results were not analysed within the
framework of the conceptual and contextual features of the parks.
The analysis framework presented on previous pages suggests some basic principles for
studying the role of flagship attractions. The case study data are analysed within the main
elements of this framework, but some simplifications have been made because of
limitations in the data. The survey aimed to reveal various visitor and market aspects, and
the size of the questionnaire had to be kept at a reasonable level. The visitor data
nevertheless provide a detailed empirical background for assessment of regional and local
economic impact, comprising motivation for trip and type of trip (excursion, round trip or
fixed base holiday) to attraction area, place of residence or current accommodation, length
of stay in area, type of accommodation, etc. Questions of the visitors’ expenditures were,
however, not given priority in the survey questionnaire, and estimations were to be based
on external sources of expenditure data (see chapter 7).
The results and discussions presented here are necessarily a summary of the main findings
on visitor markets and characteristics, and on economic impacts. With regard to the effects
of the parks’ respective conceptual and contextual identities on the impact figures, the aim
of this study is limited to pointing to some key features.
The park surveys were carried out in the period 19 June to 13 August 1995, which is the
high season period (school holiday). The visitor numbers in this period constituted
between 65 and 89 per cent of the annual number of visitors. The seasonal pattern has a
very significant school holiday peak, particularly at Telemark Sommarland and
Hunderfossen Familiepark.
The questionnaires were distributed and collected by the park staff, and the aim was to
collect 1000 interviews per park. The respondents were to be only one person from each
visiting group, and the questionnaires were distributed proportionally at certain
predetermined days and hours to secure a minimum representativeness.
Table 6. Number of visitors in the period 19 June – 13 August 1995 and whole season
Number of visitors 1995 Survey period numbers
as % of whole season
19 June-13 August Whole season
Kristiansand Dyrepark 296,720 404,597 73
Hunderfossen Familiepark 211,806 256,005 83
Telemark Sommarland 207,587 232,454 89
TusenFryd * 223,842 342,646 65
* Not including visitors to VikingLandet (separate admission fee).
After rejection of some 10 per cent of the collected questionnaires, the requested numbers
were clearly achieved in two of the parks, but not quite achieved in the other two parks.
The numbers of survey respondents in each park were:
Hunderfossen Familiepark 1,096
Telemark Sommarland 712
Kristiansand Dyrepark 1,186
TusenFryd 823
The initial survey results were grossed up by the number of visitors divided by the number
of respondents (for each of three interview periods) to match the total number of visitors in
each park during the survey period. All results refer to this period only. No estimates were
made for expenditures, etc. outside the survey period.
5.3 The Theme Parks: Basic Concepts
The basic idea of the parks is to offer entertainment and activities that attract children (of
all ages) and their families, as well as other types of groups like (particularly) school
classes, for a whole day – or more. The size of the parks and their variety of activities
imply that they are aiming at the national holiday and weekend-trip markets and not only
at local and regional markets. This will be discussed in more detail in chapter 6.
The concepts, or rather the exposure profiles, are somewhat different, each park having
relatively successfully built up its own distinctive identity separating it from the others.
What the parks have in common is their family appeal and their variety of experiences and
activities as well as a uniqueness that makes them a must to visit and revisit again some
time later.
This uniqueness does not imply that the parks are based around one single or major theme
– at least such themes are difficult to spot. There are, however, some basic ideas that
separate the parks from each other, and all four parks live up to the image of a modern,
medium-size theme park. It should be noted, however, that (particularly) Kristiansand
Dyrepark and Hunderfossen Familiepark offer a more all-round family day out concept
than the other two parks. Telemark Sommarland is built up around water (bathing)
activities, and TusenFryd is more like a traditional amusement park (although the recently
built Viking Village adds a dimension to the park concept.
All parks emerged in their present status and shape during the 1980s. They are regularly –
at least every third or fourth year – making considerable investments to renew their
facilities and attractions in order to maintain interest in the market.
5.3.1 Hunderfossen Familiepark
The park offers a combination of Norwegian troll and traditional fairy tale characters,
pedagogic centres, play-and-learn activities and various playground activities within a
family picnic frame. There is an all-inclusive admission fee of 135 NOK for adults and
115 NOK for children (1997).
The major single attractions are
·  The fairy tale cave – comprising tableaux of well known traditional fairy tales;
·  The super-videograph – 360 degree video screening of Norwegian scenery.
Other popular attractions include the wax museum, the ice cream factory and pedagogical
centres like the oil and gas adventure centre, the energy centre and the photo adventure
The playground activities comprise six different small car driving circuits (cars with and
without engines), various swimming-pools and water slides, mini-golf, river gold-digging
and a large collection of traditional playground equipment (toys, carousels, seesaws,
climbing frames, slides, etc.).
Besides the educational centres mentioned above, there are also traditional farmhouses
with domestic animals, and a children’s data centre.
The park offers barbecue grills for visitors’ use in addition to different catering facilities
(small restaurants, fast food, ice cream bars and coffee shops).
The park is open daily between 1 June and 15 August, and some weekends at the end of
May and end of August. The main indoor attractions are open all year round for group
reservations. The location is 15 kilometres north of Lillehammer, along the major southnorth
road link (E6) between Oslo and the north.
5.3.2 Telemark Sommarland
The main attraction of the park – also being a major theme – are the spectacular water
(bathing) activities. The park also offers a selection of playground facilities and family
music shows during the main season. The all-inclusive admission fee is 150 NOK for
adults and 130 NOK for children (1997).
This waterland comprises 25 different water activities, some of them quite spectacular and
award-winning water rides. The activities include surfing facilities (in large pool with
artificial waves), different sized slides and a variety of pools.
The playground facilities include traditional slides and seesaws, mini-golf, a children’s
driving school and a small amusement park with a Ferris wheel and carousels. There are
also minor gambling and data games facilities.
Most evenings in peak season there is musical family show entertainment with wellknown
(mostly Scandinavian) artists.
This relatively distinctive concept has been successful because bathing is a number one
summer holiday activity among Norwegian families. The park is situated in a relatively
remote farming area, but still within driving distance from major holiday areas at the
southern coast of Norway. The park is successfully offering an all-weather alternative to
the coastal beaches.
The opening season lasts from 1 June to 15 August.
5.3.3 Kristiansand Dyrepark
This park was originally established as a zoo with many exotic animals. It has gradually
developed to become the most popular family attraction in Norway, including attractions
and characters that may be described as children’s icons. This development was by and
large initially based on the success of children’s TV-star Julius the chimpanzee, and later
the shows, records and films of sea pirate Kaptein Sabeltann.
In recent years, the establishment of children’s author Torbjørn Egner’s Kardemomme by
(Cardamom village) has further added to the park’s image as the homeland of children’s
The zoo image is also still essential: according to park brochures, the heart of the park
remains all the different animals. There are many exotic and rare animals to watch, and
also considerable coverage of the Scandinavian fauna.
Besides this, swimming facilities are offered at the park’s lake beach. Playground activities
include a bobsleigh ride and a flume ride.
The all-inclusive entrance fee is 170 NOK for adults and 140 NOK for children. The fee
does not include the Kaptein Sabeltann evening theatre shows.
The location is at the far south of Norway, in one of the most popular summer holiday
regions of the country.
The animal park is open all year round, but entertainment and rides are offered in the
summer season only.
5.3.4 TusenFryd
This park is built around a more traditional amusement park concept and aims to be the
capital’s number one fairground. In this matter, TusenFryd has the advantage of being
without competition in the area of Oslo as regards leisure parks. Its location is, however,
20 kilometres outside Oslo, implying that the park has not managed to establish the
position of Copenhagen’s Tivoli, Gothenburg’s Liseberg or Stockholm’s Grøna
The park has about 50 different attractions, headed by a looped roller coaster. There are
various spectacular rides, including a flume ride and a flying carpet. Other attractions
include the Wild West ghost town (Morgan Kane City, including gunfight shows), a
haunted house and bumper cars and boats. There are also various carousels and smaller
rides and slides.
During the peak season the park offers family shows featuring fairy tale and cartoon
characters, e.g. from Donald Duck, the Lion King and Sesame Street. There are also
musical evening shows by well-known artists.
In 1995 the park introduced a separate theme park, VikingLandet (The Viking Country).
This park is relatively small and covers 20,000 square meters (five acres), including a
Viking village with farm houses, forge and other Viking workshops, a grave-mound, and a
Viking court. In the village there are Vikings displaying daily life 1000 years back
throughout the season. The main attraction is a mountain hall with a full-scale Viking
ship taking visitors on a quite realistic Viking adventure trip.
An all-inclusive ticket for TusenFryd only is available at the price of 170 NOK for adults
and 140 NOK for children (1997). The total fees including VikingLandet are 210 NOK
and 170 NOK, respectively. Separate tickets for VikingLandet are available at 90 NOK
(adults) and 55 NOK (children). The park is open May-September.
5.4 The Financial Viability of the Parks
The importance of attractions for the local area will necessarily be influenced by their
financial viability. Survival of an enterprise depends on its ability to balance revenues and
costs and – in the long run – its ability to give its owners an acceptable return on their
investments. Financial viability is also required in order constantly to develop the park
facilities to retain the market’s interest. It is also important that the park should not have
to rely on public subsidies – such as financial support or favourable loans from the local
authorities to maintain direct and indirect employment in the area.
All in all, financial viability means that the existence of the park is safe and permanent
and so are its impacts. It is therefore appropriate to give a brief view of the financial
viability of the Norwegian theme parks.
All four major Norwegian parks are profit maximising private (limited) enterprises. They
are organised either as an independent enterprise or as a daughter enterprise under the
umbrella of a private profit maximising company. Every park is, however, the major
economic activity within its company. After the establishment period in the 1980s, and
some initial financial struggles at some of the parks, they are all now regarded as
financially healthy enterprises. During the 1990s they all consolidated their financial
situation by making profits and re-investing much of their earnings in park facilities and
in maintenance funds. They do not receive any public subsidies.
There have never been any bankruptcies, loss of company capital or any urgent need for
re-financing as far as is known to the public, although some of the parks have had their
odd years of financial problems because of temporary decreases in attendance. It is evident
that their annual economic results are quite sensitive to changes in visitor numbers.
For that reason, permantly sinking popularity will be a threat to the parks, but that is not
the situation for any of them.
Table 7. Annual numbers of visitors by park
1994 1995 1996 1997
Kristiansand Dyrepark 462,300 404,600 481,400 448,000
Hunderfossen Familiepark 268,100 256,000 267,000 255,000
Telemark Sommarland 242,900 232,500 203,100 248,600
TusenFryd 1 349,400 428,500 420,700 369,800
1 The Viking Village was introduced in 1995. The visitors there were counted separately in 1995 and 1996 and
added to the visitors numbers of the main park.
Table 7 shows that particularly Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark Sommarland have
been subject to at least one bad year recently, which in both cases led to severe (but not
crucial) financial losses. At Kristiansand Dyrepark, a controversy that led to the loss of
their biggest entertainment attraction for the whole season, is reported to be the major
reason for the 1995 drop in visitor numbers (the artist returned in 1996). Telemark
Sommarland considers that bad weather was the reason for the 1996 drop in visitor
The visitor number that makes break even at each park is not known, and will naturally
vary from year to year. Anyway, all parks have made profits in at least three of the last
four years. According to the management in each park, three good years for each not so
good year year is normal and by and large a reasonable description of the park’s financial
5.5 Characteristics of the Host Areas
Impact studies may be carried out on different geographical levels. In this study the aim is
to study economic impacts at the local level – i.e. in what may be labelled as the local host
area. The host area is defined as the municipality in which the park is situated, plus the
bordering municipalities. All municipalities included in the local area concept have their
centres within 35 kilometres of the park.
For the three parks that are situated in the more rural areas, the municipalities that were
chosen constitute what can be considered as the natural local economic area, e.g. the area
of influence of the host municipality of the park as regards retail shopping and daily
commuting labour force. For the TusenFryd park, the situation is somewhat different.
Although Oslo is not a bordering municipality, the city centre is only 20 kilometres away
from the park. This implies that the economy of the local area of the park is strongly
influenced by and more or less integrated in to the major city economy. The local area of
TusenFryd is to a lesser degree a natural geographical economic area, and we have chosen
to include Oslo in the host area.
The size of the host areas is quite different as regards the number of residents (table 8).
Telemark Sommarland and Hunderfossen Familiepark are situated in relatively sparsely
populated areas. There is, however, a significant difference between these two areas too.
Hunderfossen Familiepark is situated in the countryside, but within the municipality of
Lillehammer. Lillehammer has only about 24,000 inhabitants, but it is the trade centre of
a large region, and administrative centre of the county. It is also the regional centre of
tourism, and is particularly known because it hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Table 8. Number of residents in local areas
Park and municipality Number of residents in
host municipality
Number of residents in host
Hunderfossen Familiepark, city of Lillehammer 23,900 35,000
Telemark Sommarland, rural municipality Bø 4,800 19,000
Kristiansand Dyrepark, city of Kristiansand 67,900 105,000
TusenFryd, suburban/rural municipality Ås 12,200 571,000
Telemark Sommarland is situated in Bø, a small country town of less than 5000
inhabitants. Bø is one of four local centres in the typical rural region of upper Telemark. It
is located 55 kilometres away from the county centre of twin cities Skien/Porsgrunn
(80,000 inhabitants), and 40 kilometres away from the nearest small town, Notodden,
which has about 12,000 inhabitants.
Kristiansand Dyrepark is situated nine kilometres outside Kristiansand, which has nearby
70,000 inhabitants. Kristiansand is the centre of the southern Norwegian region and a
busy tourist town in summer.
All areas can supply tourists with basic consumption products. Good shopping facilities
are present in Lillehammer and Kristiansand (and of course Oslo), although it is a few
kilometres driving distance from the parks to the city centres.
Private car and coach transport are the dominant transport modes for park visitors. All
parks have reasonably good access by road, being situated on the main inter-regional road
network. There is a small exception for Telemark Sommarland, where parts of the access
trails are ordinary country roads. TusenFryd and Kristiansand Dyrepark have reasonably
good railway access by the main south-west railway line (between Oslo and Stavanger).
The distances from the railway stations to the parks are two kilometres and nine
kilometres, respectively.
Hunderfossen Familiepark is situated on the main line between Oslo and Trondheim, and
has its own little railway station at the park. TusenFryd is 7.5 kilometres from the nearest
rail station and 17 kilometres from the main railway station in Oslo, but the main public
transport mode is the park’s own bus line from the centre of Oslo.
Figure 3. Location of Norwegian theme parks. Major road network
There are no crucial barriers where accessibility by road systems is concerned, although
traffic congestion may occur near all parks at weekends in the peak season. As regards
rail, a lack of flexibility, demonstrated by relatively few train arrivals per day, is assumed
to be a barrier, but is more likely to encourage private car use than result in a non-visit.
Although indirect economic impacts constituted a marginal part of the study, some
comments should be made with respect to the size of the host areas. The relatively small
areas chosen for impact studies of the three flagship attractions imply a likelihood of low
indirect effects because production of services and products may rely on imports from
other areas. This is possibly most evident in Bø, the location of TusenFryd, where
deliveries to the park come from regional firms rather than local ones. In the regional
centres Kristiansand and Lillehammer, however, the local supply of goods and services to
the tourism industry is well developed.
The host area characteristics give some brief background information on determinants for
off-site expenditures. The overall impression is that accessibility to the park areas is not a
particular obstacle to the exploitation of any of the parks’ visitor potential. The host area
supply of basic goods and services for visitors seems sufficient in all areas. General
shopping facilities are, however, limited at Telemark Sommarland, which is the most
remotely located park. This may to some degree reduce the actual volume of off-site visitor
A more profound understanding of expenditure potentials will emerge from an
examination of the evidently more influential aspects of the attraction concept, the market
context and the characteristics of the tourism industry in each area.
6. The Theme Park Markets
6.1 Basic Visitor Characteristics
The Norwegian theme parks have mainly domestic visitors, the numbers of foreign visitors
are quite marginal. The target segments have traditionally been defined within the home
market, and the major attractions in each park are for the most part based on characters
that are familiar to Norwegian families.
Some efforts have been made to increase the number of foreign visitors, by and large by
Kristiansand Dyrepark and TusenFryd. Kristiansand Dyrepark have launched a strategy in
which the high-frequency ferry connection to Denmark is central, to attract the Danish,
and subsequently, the German markets. TusenFryd’s establishment of the park
VikingLandet is also part of an attempt to attract a larger number of foreign visitors. The
two other parks are looking outside the domestic market to a lesser degree.
The typical visitors in all parks are families with children, friends, etc. in groups from
three to six people, and there are large proportions of non-local visitors. All parks attract a
large number of school classes and other organised groups of children in the pre-holiday
period from May until June 20.
Compared with results for the same four parks from a 1989 Scandinavian survey,41 the
basic visitor group structures seem rather stable. The average group size was 4.72 people
in 1989 and 4.65 people in 1995, and the distribution of visitors by size of group was
almost identical in the two surveys.
Table 9. Visitors by number of people in each group. Percentage of interviewed
Group size 1989 survey 1995 survey
1 – 2 people 10 11
3 – 4 people 45 46
5 – 6 people 26 24
More than 6 people 19 19
Total 100 100
In both 1989 and 1995 nearly half the number of interviewed visitors (roughly 45%)
belonged to groups of three or four persons, while about that proportion belonged to
groups of five people or more (table 9). Only 10 per cent of the visitors came alone or with
one other person.
In 1989 four out of five visitors were in groups that included children (table 10). The 1995
figures show a decrease in the proportion of groups including children, but there are no
41 Engebretsen, 1990.
dramatic changes. Table 11 in fact shows that the distribution of visitors by age has
slightly changed towards a larger proportion of children (53% in 1995 and 46% in 1989).
Table 10. Proportion of visitors in groups including children (under 18). Percentage
of interviewed visitors
1989 survey 1995 survey
Groups with children 80 72
Groups without children 20 28
Total 100 100
This indicates that, on average, there were more children and fewer adults per group in
1995 than in 1989.
Table 11. Number of people in each visitor group and percentage of visitors, by age
1989 survey 1995 survey
Age group No: per group Percent No: per group Percent
0-12 years 1.74 37 1.98 43
13-17 years 0.44 9 0.45 10
18-22 years 0.26 6 0.26 6
23-39 years 1.65 35 1.26 27
40-59 years 0.49 10 0.59 12
60 years or older 0.14 3 0.10 2
Total 4.72 100 4.65 100
The increase in the proportion of children is evident in the youngest group. At the same
time, there has been a decrease in the proportion of adults aged between 23 and 40. In
other age groups there have been small changes only.
These are quite significant and interesting changes. In 1989 there was for instance one
child under 13 per adult between 23 and 40. In 1995 there were 1.5 children (under 13)
per adult between 23 and 40.
This does not change the fact that the parks have a strong affinity for groups consisting of
children and their parents. The main markets consist of people on short break or holiday
trips (see table 14). They are very often families with small children that are choosing a
holiday site or holiday route that includes the possibility of visiting one of the major theme
6.2 Resident population in local and regional markets
With the exception of TusenFryd, the parks do not have any large local nor regional
market in terms of resident numbers within reasonable driving distance (table 12). As
mentioned previously, the flagship parks to a large extent manage to attract people on
holiday. After TusenFryd, Kristiansand Dyrepark has the largest population inside 50
kilometres; however, this only comprises 123 000 people. Within 100 kilometres of the
parks the number of residents is about the same in all three flagship parks, but the
numbers are still rather low.
Table 12. Number of residents (000s) within different driving distances
< 50 kms < 100 kms < 150 kms < 200 kms < 300 kms < 500 kms
Hunderfossen Familiepark 40 200 306 813 1,998 3,359
Telemark Sommarland 34 239 996 1,711 2,371 3,164
Kristiansand Dyrepark 123 211 258 426 1,277 2,765
TusenFryd 905 1,385 1,665 1,967 2,136 2,842
The large population concentration in and around the capital city of Oslo contributes
strongly to the differences in population by driving distances, which is easy to trace in the
table. Telemark Sommarland has a larger market within a driving distance of 150
kilometres than Hunderfossen Familiepark and Kristiansand Dyrepark, because the 150
kilometres distance from Telemark Sommarland includes the western parts of Oslo. For
Hunderfossen Familiepark, the Oslo area is just within 200 kilometres, but to Kristiansand
the distance from Oslo is just above 300 kilometres.
6.3 Visitor Markets by Type of Trip
Type of trip is a basic segmentation variable in this analysis. The visitors are grouped into
the following categories:
1. Excursionists – visitors on a one-day trip from their residence. They may be local
residents (here defined as living less than 50 kilometres away from the park), or nonlocal
2. Short break visitors – visitors on a trip including one or two nights away from the
residence. They may be accommodated in the host area or outside the host area
3. Holiday travellers – visitors on holiday, either on a round trip or on a base holiday.
They spend at least three nights away from their permanent residence, and like the
short break visitors they may be accommodated in the host area as well as outside the
host area.
One of the hallmarks of peripherality as regards theme parks is a low population number
within reasonable driving distance. Table 12 indicated that the local markets are small and
there are also few residents within two hours’ drive (150 kilometres). It is obvious that the
three peripherally located parks could not have developed on any theme park scale unless
they were able to attract a large number of customers from the short break and holiday trip
As can be observed from the figures in table 13, these visitor categories are broadly
represented in the parks’ attendance.
Table 13. Visitors by type of trip by park 1995. Per cent
Excurs. from
Short break
Base holiday of 3
nights or more
Round trip
Hunderfossen Familiepark 25 23 24 25 3
Telemark Sommarland 25 28 25 20 2
Kristiansand Dyrepark 29 15 33 19 2
TusenFryd 63 7 16 12 2
The three peripheral parks see a proportion of 70-75 percent of their visitors being people
on holiday or on a short break trip. Around 50 percent are people on a round trip or base
holiday. Telemark Sommarland and Hunderfossen Familiepark have quite similar
distributions of visitors, while Kristiansand Dyrepark has a smaller proportion of short
break visitors and larger proportions of excursionists and base holiday visitors. Compared
with the other two parks, the visitor distribution at Kristiansand Dyrepark reflects the
higher local population figures and the position of the southern coastline as a popular
summer resort. The relatively low proportion of short break visitors at Kristiansand
Dyrepark may reflect the lower population figures in areas between 100 and 300
kilometres from the park. TusenFryd represents the more urban situated theme park,
reflected in the fact that nearly 2/3 of the visitors are excursionists. The market among
people visiting the Oslo area on holiday is quite important (28 percent), while there are
relatively few short break travellers who visit the park.
6.4 The Outreach of Visitor Markets by Residence
Having discussed the importance of the excursionist, short break and holiday markets,
respectively, the next step is to examine the geographical outreach of these markets.
The number of visitors coming from each distance zone (intervals of 50 kilometres)
depends mathematically on two factors. Firstly the number of residents within the zone
and secondly the proportion of residents actually visiting the park in question. For each
market (by type of trip) the number (or proportion) of visitors will be different from one
park to another. One of the reasons for this is that the number of residents within each
distance zone from each park will be different. By taking also the ratio (number of visitors:
number of residents) in each zone into account, we will get figures that should be more
directly comparable from park to park. This ratio can be interpreted as the absolute
number of visitors weighted by the number of residents in the actual zone.
It should here be noticed that within the visitor numbers there are several repeat visitors
included – often visitors who spend two subsequent days in the park. For instance at
Kristiansand Dyrepark 20 per cent of visitors were recorded as repeat visitors. This should
not affect the conclusions, which anyway must be based on total number of visitors and not
number of different visitors.
Being a sample survey with 800-1200 respondents from each park, there will be some
uncertainty in the figures, particularly regarding table cells with few observations. One
should also be aware of the fact that some respondents may have misunderstood the
question as regards the type of trip they are on. This may for instance be observed in the
excursionist figures, where for some respondents the driving distance from their residence
is more than 500 kilometres. On the other hand a few respondents have stated that they are
on a base holiday trip even if their permanent residence is situated less than 50 kilometres
from the park visited. These examples are, however, relatively few and will not influence
the conclusions to any vital degree.
6.4.1 Market overview
The distance between the visitor’s residence and the park visited generally increases by
increasing duration of trip. More precisely, the willingness to travel far is obviously larger
for holiday trips than for excursions. On the other hand, the type of trip undertaken to visit
a certain park must be assumed to be strongly related to the distance between residence
and park. Generally, people who live relatively close to the park would be expected to visit
the park as excursionists and not make the visit part of a holiday trip. Hence, if the park
attracts significant numbers of visitors from more distant geographical markets, these are
most likely short break visitors or people on a summer holiday trip.
This kind of picture is evident on the Norwegian theme park scene and can be more
closely studied in figures 4 and 5. From table 13 it may be observed that, while the three
peripheral parks had a more or less even distribution of visitors by type of trip, TusenFryd
had a large proportion of excursionists. The difference in composition of visitors is clearly
reflected in the distribution of visitors by distance zone.
TusenFryd receives few visitors living between 200 and 300 kilometres away, except for a
number of about 46,000 who live more than 450 kilometres away. These are mainly
holiday travellers, for whom Oslo is distant enough to be a more interesting place for a
holiday than it is for people who live closer to the country’s capital.
The three other parks – whose attendance consists of about 50 percent holiday travellers –
attract visitors from all distance zones. From figure 5, one may observe that the relative
number of inhabitants in each zone who are park visitors show a stable course for zones
beyond 150 kilometres. Hence, the low values between 350 and 500 kilometres in figure 4
are mainly caused by variations in zone population. Also for TusenFryd the relative
numbers of visitors by distance zone are relatively stable, except for the 200-250 kilometre
zone. The population in this zone is considerably lower than in the other zones, but
TusenFryd apparently attracts a large proportion of visitors (mainly short break travellers)
from this zone.
Figure 4. Park visitors by distance zone. TusenFryd (TF), and aggregated figures for
Hunderfossen Familiepark, Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark
Figure 5. Park visitors by distance zone as percentage of population. TusenFryd (TF)
+ average figures for Hunderfossen Familiepark, Kristiansand Dyrepark
and Telemark Sommarland
Figure 6. Park visitors by type of trip and distance zone. Aggregated figures for
Hunderfossen Familiepark, Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark
Figure 7. Percentage distribution of park visitors by type of trip and distance zone.
Hunderfossen Familiepark, Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark
Figure 6 includes aggregate figures from the three peripheral parks. It shows how
excursionists are dominant among the visitors who live less than 100 kilometres away
from the park. Between 150 and 350 kilometres short break visitors and holiday visitors
are becoming dominant, and from 350 kilometres the scene is dominated by people on
holiday. This picture becomes even clearer if we look at relative numbers in each zone
(figure 7).
The market situation is not exactly the same for each park when examined separately.
There are distinct variations, particularly as regards the short break and holiday markets.
These variations may occur because of differences within the population in each distance
zone or because of the park’s general ability to attract people at extra-regional
geographical levels. The variations may also reflect differences in each host area’s position
as tourism destinations. A further investigation of each of the markets will reveal some of
these variations.
6.4.2 The excursionist market
The figures in table 14 and the diagram in figure 8 indicate that the excursionist market is
primarily found within 100 kilometres, and that it may stretch out to 200 kilometres. Only
to a very limited degree do people travel more than 200 kilometres for a day’s visit.
Figure 8 shows the proportion of residents living within each distance zone that visited the
respective parks during the school holiday period in 1995. For all parks this proportion (or
visiting frequency) is clearly decreasing by increasing distance. There are, however,
remarkable differences between the parks. Kristiansand Dyrepark and Hunderfossen draw
higher proportions of the population in each distance zone than Telemark Sommarland
and TusenFryd do. While the visitor numbers of Kristiansand Dyrepark correspond to
nearly half the population within 50 kilometres, the numbers at TusenFryd correspond to
10 percent of the population.
The less typical park is Telemark Sommarland, which gets considerable numbers of
excursionists travelling more than 100 kilometres one way. This is mainly because of its
geographical position 120-160 kilometres away from the Oslo region. The park does not
attract any larger proportion of the population within that distance zone than the other
parks do. The Oslo area is to some degree also responsible for the number of visitors at
Hunderfossen Familiepark travelling more than 150 kilometres.
The strong local visitor affinity to Kristiansand Dyrepark and Hunderfossen are assumed
to be caused by matters concerning park concept and competition from other activities.
TusenFryd (more like a traditional fairground), and to some degree Telemark Sommarland
(water based) do not have the same all-round family activity image that the other two
parks have, and TusenFryd in particular faces tougher local competition.
Table 14. Park visitor numbers by distance zone. Excursionists
% Visitors % Visitors % Visitors % Visitors
0-50 28 14,900 17 8,900 68 58,100 66 92,900
50-100 38 20,600 26 13,100 15 13,000 23 32,400
100-150 9 5,000 43 22,200 3 2,600 5 7,100
150-200 14 7,700 10 5,300 4 3,600 3 4,000
200-250 4 1,900 1 – 1 1,000 0 –
250-300 2 800 0 – 2 1,800 0 –
> 300 5 2,800 2 800 6 4,700 2 2,800
Total 100 53,700 100 51,200 100 84,800 100 139,804
Figure 8. Park visitors by distance zone as percentage of population. Excursionists
6.4.3 The short break market
The short break market comprises persons who undertake a trip with one or two overnight
stays away from the permanent residence, which is normally undertaken at weekends. In
the school holiday, however, several families take their children on such trips during the
At the three peripheral parks, the geographical outreach of the short break market in terms
of visitor numbers seems linked to the distance from the densely populated Oslo region
(table 15). The main markets for Hunderfossen in are in the zones between 150 and 350
kilometres. Oslo is situated just over 200 kilometres from the park, which most likely
explains the high visitor number from the 200-250 kilometre zone. The relative figures for
each zone (figure 9) show that short break visitors are more likely to live between 200 and
350 kilometres away than in other distances from the park.
Telemark Sommarland gets 80 per cent of its short break visitors from areas between 100
and 300 kilometres from the park. The distance to Oslo, which is about 150 kilometres (to
the city centre), strongly influences this distribution. The relative figures in figure 8 also
indicate that the typical short break visitor lives between 100 and 300 kilometres away.
The material also shows high relative numbers of visitors from the sparsely populated
zones between 400 and 500 kilometres. This may be caused by biased survey material.
Table 15. Park visitor numbers by distance zone. Short break travellers
% Visitors % Visitors % Visitors % Visitors
0-150 5 2,500 32 18,500 3 1,100 19 2,800
150-200 12 5,900 22 12,800 14 6,000 9 1,300
200-250 35 17,000 15 8,700 17 7,300 30 4,400
250-300 15 7,200 14 8,000 27 11,800 4 500
300-350 19 9,400 8 4,400 25 11,000 7 1,000
350-400 5 2,400 2 1,200 3 1,300 14 2,000
400-450 2 800 3 1,500 1 – 0 0
450-500 3 1,300 1 – 0 – 4 600
> 500 4 1,800 3 1,500 10 4,400 13 1,900
Total 100 48,272 100 57,200 100 43,500 100 14,500
Figure 9. Park visitors by distance zone in per cent of population. Short break
Kristiansand Dyrepark gets about 70 per cent of its short break visitors from areas between
200 and 350 kilometres away. Oslo (city centre) is situated 315 kilometres away and the
Stavanger area about 250 kilometres away, which certainly provides an explanation on
this. Relatively seen, the most frequent short break visitors live in the 150-200 kilometre
zone, otherwise one finds the highest values also between 200 and 300 kilometres.
TusenFryd has few short break visitors, but the impression one gets from the relatively
sparse material is that they are more evenly spread over the distance zones than is
observed at the other parks. However, nearly 60 per cent live less than 250 kilometres
away from the park (table 15). A particular phenomenon is observed in the strong
attraction of people in the 200-250 kilometre zone (figure 8). There is no obvious
explanation for this; however, one may not exclude the possibility of biased survey
In general the short break market seems to have the highest concentration between 150
and 300 kilometres. When extending this outreach to the interval between 100 and 350
kilometres, most of the short break market for Norwegian peripheral theme parks is
6.4.4 The holiday trip market
The holiday trip market comprises persons who undertake a trip with at least three
overnight stays away from their permanent residence. The general picture of the domestic
summer holiday market is that there is a large proportion of base holiday trips, where
staying at private or rented holiday homes, with friends and relatives or in permanently
placed caravans are the most important types of accommodation. It is also quite common
to undertake round trip holidays, particularly linked to camping, rented rooms and bedand-
breakfast types of accommodation. From table 13 it can be observed that, among park
visitors, base holiday and round trip tourism are almost equal in terms of numbers of
An important characteristic of the geographical outreach of the holiday trip market is that
visitors come from all over the country. This is indicated by the high numbers of visitors
living more than 500 kilometres (a zone which in fact ranges from 500 to 2000
kilometres) from the visited park (table 16). It is further confirmed by the relatively high
frequencies among people in the plus 500 kilometres zone (figure 10).
The main markets for Hunderfossen Familiepark in terms of visitor numbers are in the
zones between 200 and 400 kilometres. Sixty percent of the visitors come from regions in
this distance interval. This also corresponds well to the relative figures, which have the
highest values between 200 and 450 kilometres (figure 10).
Kristiansand Dyrepark gets 50 per cent of its holiday trip visitors from the 200-350
kilometre intervals. The relative figures for each zone also show, however, high values
among residents living more than 500 kilometres away from the park. In fact one third of
the holiday visitors travel more than 500 kilometres.
Telemark Sommarland attracts holiday visitors mainly from areas between 100 and 350
kilometres from the park, which is about the same picture as in the short break market.
Relative figures, however, show high values up to 450 kilometres.
TusenFryd has few holiday visitors, a majority in fact coming from regions more than 500
kilometres away. Except for the 350-400 kilometre zone, the relative figures are quite
stable from 200 kilometres and further. There are relatively few people living in the 200-
500 kilometre zones, which explains the low absolute numbers.
For the three peripheral parks, the holiday market seems to have the highest concentration
between 200 and 400 kilometres in absolute figures. The absolute numbers from each
distance zone for each park are, however, strongly influenced by the number of residents
in each zone, which varies considerably from park to park. In relative figures the
attraction power (of all four parks) is evident in all regions more than 200 kilometres
Table 16. Park visitor numbers by distance zone. Holiday travellers
% Visitors % Visitors % Visitors % Visitors
0-150 3 2,700 16 14,400 2 3,000 8 4,700
150-200 7 5,900 12 11,200 2 3,000 2 1,500
200-250 21 20,500 8 7,600 10 14,600 3 1,900
250-300 13 12,300 15 13,400 17 26,100 3 2,000
300-350 16 15,100 20 18,000 23 34,800 2 1,400
350-400 11 11,100 8 7,900 4 6,300 0 0
400-450 6 6,300 3 2,500 4 5,700 4 2,100
450-500 5 4,600 1 950 6 8,400 14 8,100
> 500 18 17,200 18 16,400 32 48,200 63 37,900
Total 100 96,900 100 92,100 100 150,100 100 59,900
Figure 10. Park visitors by distance zone as percentage of population. Holiday
6.5 The Outreach of Holiday Destination Markets
As previously discussed (see chapter 2.4), peripheral parks are dependent both on being
situated in traditional holiday regions and having the ability to attract people to the area or
region by their own reputation. The park survey revealed that many park visitors decide
their holiday or short break destination primarily with the intention of visiting a certain
park. In that sense, the distance between residence and park seems the most relevant type
of indicator of the size (or outreach) of the geographical markets.
Several short break and holiday visitors, however, decide on the destination or other
reasons. The park visit decision is then made after the destination decision is made.
Regarding these visitors then the geographical market is described by how far people on
short breaks or holiday trips actually travel on the day of the park visit.
Table 17 shows that a majority of both short break visitors and holiday travellers drive less
than 50 kilometres on the day of the park visit. With few exceptions around 85 per cent of
short break or holiday visitors in any park spend the night before the visit less than 100
kilometres from the park. Short break visitors, however, are generally more concentrated
in the 50 kilometre zone than holiday visitors.
From the figures in table 17 one may also make a comparison of holiday travellers and
excursionists. For the two parks where excursionists markets are rather wide
(Hunderfossen and Telemark Sommarland), the differences turn out to be quite significant.
From these two cases it seems to be an appropriate conclusion that the excursionist
markets are a lot wider than the holiday and short break destination markets. At the two
other parks, a large majority of excursionist visitors come from nearby areas (within 100
kilometres). Hence, differences are evidently found within the 0-100-kilometre interval
only. At TusenFryd, short break visitors (particularly) and holiday visitors are more
concentrated within the 50-kilometre zone than excursionist visitors. At Kristiansand
Dyrepark, however, that type of difference is not observed.
One could make further investigation of the holiday and short break destination markets
by looking at geographical distribution of accommodation site by distance zone in view of
the importance of the park visit. In other words, by examining whether the observed
driving distance on the day of the visit is influenced by the importance of the park visit for
choice of destination.
The figures in table 18 do not give indications that are unambiguous enough to lead to a
general conclusion. At Hunderfossen and Telemark Sommarland there are evidently
higher frequencies as regards accommodation within the 50-kilometre zone in the main
reason visitors category than in the other two categories. At TusenFryd and Kristiansand
Dyrepark, however, such differences are not observed.
Table 17.Proportion of visitors by distance zone. Excursionists: distance from
residence. Short break visitors and holiday travellers: distance from
accommodation site. Percentage
All parks
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100 – 150 150 – 200 200-250 > 250 Total
Excursionists 53 24 11 6 1 4 100
Short break visitors 73 7 6 4 4 6 100
Holiday travellers 70 13 6 3 2 6 100
Hunderfossen Familiepark
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100 – 150 150 – 200 200-250 > 250 Total
Excursionists 28 38 9 14 4 7 100
Short break visitors 74 11 3 4 5 2 100
Holiday travellers 66 13 6 3 5 7 100
Telemark Sommarland
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100 – 150 150 – 200 200-250 > 250 Total
Excursionists 18 26 43 10 1 2 100
Short break visitors 78 7 8 2 1 4 100
Holiday travellers 70 13 9 3 0 5 100
Kristiansand Dyrepark
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100 – 150 150 – 200 200-250 > 250 Total
Excursionists 68 15 3 4 1 8 100
Short break visitors 67 6 4 4 6 13 100
Holiday travellers 70 15 4 1 2 8 100
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100 – 150 150 – 200 200-250 > 250 Total
Excursionists 66 23 5 3 0 2 100
Short break visitors 85 2 5 2 6 0 100
Holiday travellers 75 11 5 5 1 3 100
Table 18. Accommodation site by distance zone and by importance of park visit for
travelling to area of accommodation site. Short break and holiday visitors.
All parks
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100-150 150-200 200-250 > 250 Total
Park visit main reason 75 8 6 2 2 7 100
Park visit one of a number of reasons 70 13 6 3 3 5 100
Park visit no importance/no reason 65 19 6 3 2 6 100
Hunderfossen Familiepark
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100-150 150-200 200-250 > 250 Total
Park visit main reason 75 10 3 3 5 4 100
Park visit one of a number of reasons 69 13 7 3 5 3 100
Park visit no importance/no reason 56 17 6 5 4 11 100
Telemark Sommarland
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100-150 150-200 200-250 > 250 Total
Park visit main reason 77 6 8 2 0 6 100
Park visit one of a number of reasons 67 17 9 6 0 1 100
Park visit no importance/no reason 46 37 14 1 2 0 100
Kristiansand Dyrepark
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100-150 150-200 200-250 > 250 Total
Park visit main reason 71 9 4 3 4 9 100
Park visit one of a number of reasons 68 15 4 1 3 10 100
Park visit no importance/no reason 67 19 5 1 2 6 100
Kilometres < 50 50 – 100 100-150 150-200 200-250 > 250 Total
Park visit main reason 75 6 11 4 2 2 100
Park visit one of a number of reasons 81 7 4 3 5 1 100
Park visit no importance/no reason 77 12 3 4 0 4 100
Visitors who stated that the park visit was of no importance for choice of accommodation
site should in principle be more comparable to excursionists than visitors in the other two
categories. They may be considered as excursionists from a temporary residence that is
chosen independently of the park location. Using this approach, the figures for
Hunderfossen Familiepark and Telemark Sommarland seem to support the conclusion that
the holiday and short break destination markets are geographically more limited than the
excursionist markets. In the no importance segments 73 per cent of the visitors at
Hunderfossen and 83 per cent at Telemark Sommarland are accommodated within 100
kilometres of the park. In the excursionist market 56 per cent and 44 per cent,
respectively, are found within the 100-kilometre zone.
Such trends are not observed at Kristiansand Dyrepark and TusenFryd. Unlike the other
two parks, no importance visitors are not less frequently represented within the 50-
kilometre zone than visitors of the other two categories.
Nevertheless, an important conclusion is that the short break and holiday destination
markets are more limited geographically than the excursionist market. Certainly the
results from two parks suggest this conclusion. However, the conclusion is somewhat overshadowed
by the fact that the numbers of excursionists and short break/holiday visitors by
driving distance are influenced by the size of the resident and holiday populations,
respectively, within each distance interval.
An accurate comparison could only be made if one was able to control the effects of
differences in population and holiday population, in other words by looking at relative
figures (visitors as a percentage of population) for each distance zone. Such figures are
available only for resident population. Data on the total holiday population in the survey
period for each distance zone for each park are unfortunately not available.
6.6 Market Competition between the Theme Parks
As previously stated, in spite of (or rather because of) different concepts and attraction
identities, the parks attract the same kind of customers. They are nearly 100 per cent
domestic visitors, usually being in groups consisting of both adults and children. These
market segments also frequent the leisure parks in Denmark and Sweden. The
management in all parks state, however, that over time there is little direct competition
between the parks.
Another question is to what degree the parks compete with other attractions and different
types of leisure activity. This has not been investigated in this project, and to the author’s
knowledge there is very little information on this subject from other studies in
Scandinavia. Generally the parks are primary attractions that to a small degree only
directly compete with other attractions in the same region. The total costs of a family visit
to a park – which may easily exceed £100 for a family of four – may, however, make a day
on the beach the prefered option to a second visit to the park.
It is generally assumed that in the domestic market there is a certain competition as
regards the choice of holiday region in Norway (or abroad). In the family’s holiday
decision-making process the parks participate in the competition as major reasons to go to
the regions in which they are sited.
6.6.1 The excursionist market
The management statement is partly based on the fact that the parks are located a
comfortable distance away from each other (table 19). This implies that there is limited
competition in the excursionist market, which can be confirmed by comparing relative
numbers of visitors by distance zone (figure 8) and the distances stated in table 19.
Table 19. Road distances between the parks (in kilometres)
Telemark Sommarland TusenFryd Hunderfossen
Kristiansand Dyrepark 240 330 500
Telemark Sommarland 180 350
TusenFryd 230
As previously stated (see figure 8 and table 14) the local residents have a remarkably high
visit frequency. The exception is TusenFryd, whose proportion of 10 per cent still equals
the unofficial, but seemingly well known rule of thumb proportion for large attractions
near major cities in Europe.
The high figures for the remote parks indicate a local identity to the area’s flagship
attraction reported from the management staff in these parks. Furthermore, they
emphasise the parks’ position as very important entertainment in their respective local
areas. The distance between the parks implies that most excursionist visitors in one park
will be short break or holiday visitors if they go to another park in Norway
6.6.2 The short break and holiday markets
The park management statement on absence of competition is partly based on the view
that the park concepts and particular attractions have a uniqueness that gives each park its
own identity. It is also based on the expressed policy (and observed ability) of all parks to
develop new attractions within cycles of three to four years.
Indirectly this implies that, if there was only one park in Norway (or in Scandinavia),
people would not go to that park every year. There seems to be a pattern that the family
with children segment rotates between the parks. They may visit one, two or three parks a
year, every other year also making a holiday visit abroad to see the parks in Jutland,
Liseberg in Gothenburg or Tivoli in Copenhagen. Nearly 50 per cent of the survey
respondents had recently visited other parks in Norway. Between 20 and 30 per cent had
recently visited other parks abroad (in Scandinavia).
Table 20. Proportion of visitors who have visited other parks 1994 or 1995, by type of
trip this visit. Percentage
Have visited other parks in Norway Have visited theme parks abroad
Excurs. Short b. Holiday All Excurs. Short b. Holiday All
TusenFryd 42 76 47 46 31 10 30 30
Hunderfossen 42 50 50 48 20 17 20 19
Telemark S. 58 50 57 55 23 31 24 26
Kr.sand D. 39 54 44 44 28 21 24 25
Nevertheless, there are obviously geographical market overlaps. This can be seen when
comparing visitors by distance zone (figures 9 and 10) with distances between the parks
(table 19). There is generally a high mobility in the short break and holiday markets. Most
people in all visitor markets seem willing to travel to any park. Thus one can make the
assumption that in most potential visitors’ decision-making process, at least within a
certain year, there are at least two alternatives. Although new major attractions within
each park appear only every third or fourth year, there are also some new eye catcher
attractions presented every year, particularly as regards family entertainment shows.
Over a period of, say, four years, however, the picture may look different. As customer
demand is normally limited to two visits per year, and the parks renew their product only
every fourth year, one could say that there is a type of horizontal integration in the market.
The situation would probably change dramatically (at least for a while) if a fifth major
park was established in southern Norway. The market situation implies, however, that
there is not sufficient market basis for new parks in southern Norway, unless the market is
supplemented by a considerable number of foreign tourists. In other parts of the country,
for instance in the Trondheim or Bergen areas, small regional populations, long distances
to holiday markets and unstable climate conditions are regarded as severe obstacles for
new establishments on the theme park scale.
All in all the impression is that the theme park scene in Norway is subject to competition.
There is a limited degree of competition, even in the holiday markets, between four parks
which are totally dominant in Norway. The domestic market bears many of the
characteristics of an oligopoly, although it is not quite protected from international
competition. In the holiday markets there are strong competitors the neighbouring
countries. Norway does not have parks that can match the city fairgrounds of Liseberg
(Gothenburg) or the Tivoli in Copenhagen, but the Norwegian parks do have particular
domestic attractions that foreign parks do not have.
7. The Tourism Industry in Host Areas
The large numbers of short break and holiday visitors in the local areas and in the
respective regions of the parks indicate that the tourism industry is well developed. This
may partly be seen as a result of the parks drawing visitors to their areas; however, a well
developed tourism industry has in fact also been an important basis for the parks.
The tourism industry has not been subject to very detailed investigation in this study. The
main point has been to give an overview that describes the scale of tourism development in
each host area.
7.1 General Area Tourism Characteristics
Hunderfossen Familiepark and Kristiansand Dyrepark are situated in well developed and
traditionally popular tourist areas, while the local area of Telemark Sommarland is more
remote in terms of tourism. The Lillehammer area and the surrounding mountain regions
are well positioned as both summer and winter resorts, benefiting also from the transit
traffic on the route between Oslo and the North. The Kristiansand area and the coast-line
both further west and north-east have traditionally been a popular region for summer
vacations, hosting a large number of camping sites, hotels and private holiday homes. The
Bø/Lifjell area surrounding Telemark Sommarland is traditionally better known for ski
holiday tourism, as are most of the inland regions of the county of Telemark. These areas,
including Bø, are not particular holiday or visiting areas in the spring and summer season
compared to the coastal region, although a couple of attractions draw significant numbers
of tourists.
7.2 Accommodation Capacity and Structures
The scale and structure of tourism capacity varies from area to area. The Lillehammer area
has a central position in the south-north tourist flows and a bed capacity of 5800 in hotels
and similar accommodation. The Kristiansand area has just over 2000 and the Telemark
Sommarland local area has less than 500 beds (according to NORTRA’s 1996 list).
However, the accommodation category Hotels and similar is a vague classification that is
not fully covered in the public figures. Besides the official numbers of beds and camping
facilities there are several small scale operators (camping sites, private holiday homes,
cabins/rooms for rent, etc.) that are not registered. Additional accommodation facilities are
also found in student houses, holiday centres and tourist lodges not included in the
NORTRA list. Near Telemark Sommarland there is for instance a regional university
college serving as a summer hotel.
The most common form of accommodation for staying visitors is nevertheless camping.
Kristiansand Dyrepark and Hunderfossen Familiepark have their own camp sites, and
there is also a large camping capacity in the host area and the region. There are several
camp sites in the nearby surroundings of Telemark Sommarland, and there is also a
reasonable capacity in the region.
The total accommodation capacity in the host areas was not investigated in the original
theme park study. A good impression of the structure of accommodation may in fact be
seen by looking at the distribution of park visitors who were accommodated in the host
area (staying visitors) by type of accommodation (table 21).
Table 21. Number of staying visitors in host area by type of accommodation
Hotel and similar accommodation 25,200 29,000 19,700
Camping 34,300 52,100 37,200
Rented holiday home/holiday cabin 15,700 8,200 24,600
Own holiday home/holiday cabin 5,500 3,100 7,100
Friends and relatives 8,100 6,600 18,200
Other 1,000 6,400 2,100
The figures in table 21 confirm that camping is the dominant type of accommodation.
About 50 per cent at Telemark Sommarland and about 40 per cent of staying visitors at
Hunderfossen Familiepark and Kristiansand Dyrepark stayed at local camp sites. The
figures also show that the differences in official hotel capacity (as presented on the
previous page) are not reflected in the table. The proportion of visitors using hotel
accommodation was 32 per cent in the Kristiansand Dyrepark, and as high as 28 per cent
in the Telemark Sommarland area (where the official hotel capacity is much lower). The
proportion was only 18 per cent in the Lillehammer area, where the hotel capacity is
considerably larger than in the other two areas.
Without further investigation it is difficult to see to what degree there are capacity
constraints in the various accommodation categories in any of the areas. An obvious
conclusion is nevertheless that all areas traditionally have (which is the main
characteristic of the context in the traditional holiday areas of Hunderfossen Familiepark
and Kristiansand Dyrepark) or have recently developed (which to a large extent has
happened in the Telemark Sommarland area) a considerable accommodation capacity.
7.3 Other Attractions in Host Areas
The local area of Hunderfossen Familiepark has several attractions and activities within a
short distance. The Maihaugen openair heritage museum is the most known and visited
museum of its kind in Norway. Also the Olympic arenas in Lillehammer, the shopping
facilities in Lillehammer, the miniature village Lilleputthammer and a handful of
museums in the area draw several visitors, many of whom are also visiting the leisure
42 Dybedal and Engebretsen, 1996, p. 62.
The most important attractions in the area are presented in table 22.
Table 22. Other attractions in the local area of Hunderfossen Familiepark
Attraction Number of visitors Distance from park
Maihaugen open air folk museum 169,0001 20 kms
Lilleputthammer Miniature City 51,0001 3 kms
Håkons Hall (Olympic Ice Rink), Lillehammer 46,0001 19 kms
Norwegian Road Museum 37,0002 0,4 kms
Olympic Ski Jump, Lillehammer 33,0001 22 kms
Lillehammer Museum of Art 21,0002 18 kms
Aulestad (home of author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson) 13,0002 30 kms
1 1995. 2 1996.
Source: Norwegian Tourist Board and Vaagland (1997).
Table 23. Other attractions in the local area of Kristiansand Dyrepark
Attraction Number of visitors Distance from park
Setesdal Mineral Park, Evje 78,0002 65 kms
Kristiansand Artillery Museum 9,0002 10 kms
Ravnedalen Nature Reservation n.a 15 kms
Setesdal Ancient Railroad n.a. 20 kms
The County Museum n.a. 10 kms
Sea sightseeing trips n.a. 10 kms
Sesame Train, Kristiansand 24,0003 10 kms
1 1995. 2 1996. 3 1997.
Source: Norwegian Tourist Board.
In Kristiansand there are few attractions with any significant visitor numbers, mostly
minor museums (table 23). There is evidently no man-made number two attraction in the
area. One possible exception is the Mineral Park 60 kilometres north of Kristiansand,
which has reported visitor numbers approaching 100,000. The tourism concepts of the
area (besides the theme park) are characterised by typical coastal resort holiday activities
like swimming and fishing, the picturesque villages and scenery of the region.
The host area of Telemark Sommarland has few other attractions, of which only the
Telemark Canal with its many locks and its offered boat trips draw a substantial number.
The summer tourism concept is by and large dominated by the theme park, at least as
regards domestic tourism. As may be observed from table 24, most other attractions are
situated well outside the host area.
Table 24. Other attractions in the local area of Telemark Sommarland
Attraction Number of visitors 1996 Distance from park
Telemark Canal 96,000 26 kms
Telemark Lekeland (amusement park), Skien 61,000 55 kms
Skjærgården Badepark (Indoor waterland) 61,000 90 kms
Heddal Stave Church 42,000 45 kms
The County Museum of Telemark 32,000 60 kms
Norsk Skieventyr (Ski museum) 37,000 52 kms
Source: Norwegian Tourist Board.
The overall impression is that the peripheral theme parks face little local competition from
other attractions in their respective areas. There are few other man-made (or fee charging)
attractions inside the host area (Telemark and Kristiansand), or there are attractions that
complement the theme park rather than competing with it (Hunderfossen Familiepark).
The size of the tourism industry and the clustering of attractions in Oslo means that
TusenFryd is placed in a context that is quite different from the other parks’ tourism
industry contexts. Regarding the excursionist market, which is the dominating market for
TusenFryd, the park faces strong competition particularly from the various entertainment
activities in Oslo.
Regarding the short trip and holiday markets, the park is so far only a medium attraction.
It faces competition from a variety of important tourist attractions in and around the centre
of Oslo, like the Vigeland Sculpture Park, The Viking Ship Museum, the Holmenkollen
Ski Jump and others.
8. Local Impacts of the Case Parks
In this study, economic impacts are mainly discussed in terms of the value of visitors’
expenditure in the host areas. Some indications are given about the distribution of
expenditures on different types of goods and services. Where tourism development is
concerned, demand for accommodation and other activities and attractions than the
flagships are essential measures. Hence, an overview of the number of guest nights
generated and the demand for other attractions in the respective areas is also presented in
this analysis.
The estimation results presented here are, according to the model presented in chapter 3,
concentrated on the expenditures attributable to the park. That is the expenditures of
visitors who come to the park area (host area) because of the park. According to the
model, we shall first present results on the following sub-variables:
·  Numbers of visitors by type of trip.
·  Visitor additionality factors for each trip category.
·  Expenditures per day per visitor in the host area.
·  Number of overnight stays in the host area per visitor.
The economic impact estimations will then be presented on the basis of equation (2) in
chapter 3.3.1.
8.1 Expenditures in Host Areas
8.1.1 Visitors by trip category
Expenditures in the host area are obviously higher for visitors who stay in the host area
than for visitors who stay in other areas. They may also be different for visitors who are on
holiday than for visitors who come directly from their permanent residence. For
excursionists expenditures depend on the travel distance between residence and park. To
examine economic impact, it is necessary to split the visitors into the following categories:
1. Staying visitors – visitors accommodated in the host area for a minimum of one night;
2. Day visitors – visitors on holiday, accommodated outside the host area;
3. Excursionists – from residence outside host area;
4. Local residents.
In the expenditure estimations, excursionists are further divided into visitors who live less
than 100 kilometres from the park (but outside the host area) and visitors who live more
than 100 kilometres from the park.
Local residents (already living inside the host area) by definition do not have any off-site
expenditures (se chapter 3.3.1) that are attributable to the park. Hence this category is not
included in estimations of off-site expenditures.
Because of the relatively restricted area defined as the local area, there are fairly few local
visitors to the parks (except for TusenFryd). There are also relatively few other
excursionists. The majority of visitors are in fact people who are on a trip including
overnight stays. In the three flagship parks, about three-quarters of the visitors are people
on a short break or holiday trip. More than half of these visitors (between 55 and 65 per
cent) are staying visitors, which – according to the survey – means that they spent the night
before the park visit in the host area. The exception to this picture is TusenFryd, because
of its urban location. Only one third of the visitors were people on holiday.
Table 25. Visitors by type of trip by park. Percentage
Day visitors Excursionists Local residents Total number
Hunderfossen Familiepark 43 32 19 6 211,800
Telemark Sommarland 48 27 22 3 207,600
Kristiansand Dyrepark 38 33 11 18 296,700
TusenFryd 19 17 38 25 223,800
Once the number of visitors in each category is known, the next step is to find out the
proportion of visitors in each category whose visit to the area is attributable to the park.
8.1.2 Visitor additionality
The visitors who stated that the park visit was their main reason for coming to the area are
counted as the attributable visitors. They are found in all visitor categories coming into
the area (table 26). Visitors who stated that the park visit had some importance in choice
of trip destination are not taken into any visitor additionality account.
The additionality factors are relatively high, reaching more than 80 per cent for stay
visitors at Telemark Sommarland and just above 50 per cent at the two other remote parks.
As expected, additionality is relatively low for TusenFryd, except for excursionists (where
high additionality in fact should be expected). A survey of visitors to various tourist areas
in Telemark in 199443 shows that 90 per cent of the visitors to Bø (the local area of
Telemark Sommarland) had visited or intended to visit the park. Combining this with the
additionality factor among those who visited the park, this indicates that two out of three
of all visitors to the area came there because of the park. Corresponding figures for the
other areas are not available.
The reliability of the estimated additionality factors sould be discussed, in view of the
design of the survey questionnaire which the respondents the choice between three
categories: main purpose for trip, some importance and no importance. Different results
could have been obtained if for instance the somewhat more absolute question would you
have taken this trip to the area if the park had not existed? had been asked.
43 Øy, 1995.
Table 26. Visitors attributable to park. Numbers and per cent additionality
Staying visitors Day visitors Excursionists
Numbers additionality Numbers additionality Numbers additionality
47,900 53 % 29,000 43 % 28,600 71 %
80,500 81 % 36,300 64 % 35,100 72 %
57,200 51 % 43,500 44 % 20,900 64 %
TusenFryd 10,800 25 % 8,300 21 % 45,900 54 %
Intuitively, one would assume that if that way of examining this matter had been used in
the survey, the result may have been lower additionality factor estimates. Under all
circumstances, the estimates are vulnerable and should be handled with care.
8.1.3 Expenditure data and estimation
The total figures for on-site visitor expenditure were supplied by the management of each
park. Estimation of off-site expenditures was, however, more complicated because the park
survey did not include questions on such expenditures. Data had to be collected from
external sources, and the main source was an independent survey of foreign and domestic
tourists’ individual expenditures in Norway in 1995.44 This survey includes data for
visitors to the Lillehammer area (location of Hunderfossen Familiepark), and these data
were assumed appropriate also for the areas of two of the other parks (Telemark
Sommarland and Kristiansand Dyrepark). This implies that local variations in individual
expenditures could not be taken into account. For TusenFryd expenditure data for urban
areas, which were specified in the expenditure survey, were used.
The expenditures were broken down by product groups and by type of accommodation.
The survey did not, however, distinguish between expenditures on and off attraction sites.
Furthermore, the place of expenditure was not recorded, and only staying visitors (who
spent the night before the interview in the area) were included in the survey population.
Therefore, some assumptions had to be made to transform the individual tourist
expenditure figures into park visitors’ off-site expenditures, and to establish reasonable
estimates for day visitors’ expenditures inside the host areas.
The survey recorded attraction entrance fee expenditures as rather low, indicating that the
proportion of respondents who visited the park (Hunderfossen Familiepark) the day they
were interviewed was low. This may initially be seen as an advantage because park visitors
could not affect the results, although the survey was undertaken in an area with a flagship
attraction. Hence the expenditures could still be considered as reasonable averages for
tourists in general. The question was then to what degree park visitors’ total daily
expenditures outside the park are different from the average tourist’s expenditure. The
44 Haukeland and Grue, 1996.
assumption was made that, considering the average number of hours spent in the park per
visit, the park visitor’s off-site expenditure was estimated to be:
·  equal to half the average tourist’s expenditure on food and beverages and souvenirs
(the other half assumed spent inside the park); and
·  equal to the average tourist’s daily expenditure on transport, groceries,
accommodation, etc.
All staying visitor expenditure was assumed to occur inside the host area.
As regards day tourists (excursionists), it was assumed that the area consumption of food,
soft drinks, souvenirs, etc. was the same as for staying visitors (per day). A small
deduction was made for excursionists living less than 100 kilometres from the park in
respect of catering consumption. Transport expenditure was estimated as one full tank (50
litres) of petrol per car; however, the proportion of visitors assumed to fill petrol inside
area was set at between 15 and 25 per cent, depending on travelling distance. It was also
assumed that there would be four persons per car. No accommodation costs were counted.
For local visitors (those living inside the host area), no off-site expenditures were
considered. The expenditure survey supplied data on expenditures per day per visitor, by
type of expenditure and by type of accommodation. The on-site expenditures are all
included in the parks’ revenue figures. The off-site expenditures per day per visitor in each
category were estimated to be as shown in table 27. The estimation principles and
assumptions are described in detail by Engebretsen and Dybedal.45
Table 27. Visitors’ off-site expenditures per day within each park’s local area, NOK
Item Staying visitors1 Day visitors Excursionists2
Accommodation 80 0 0
Transport (incl. car petrol) 35 35 21
Food and beverages 40 20 18
Shopping and souvenirs 95 20 20
Activities, other attractions 14 8 8
Miscellaneous 21 0 0
Total 285 83 67
1 Expenditures for staying visitors were estimated separately for each accommodation category and then
grossed up. Accommodation costs varied from zero (relatives, own holiday home, etc.) to 215 (hotels and
2 Estimated separately for excursionists living less than 100 kilometres and more than 100 kilometres away
from the park, respectively.
The differences between staying visitors’ and (the indirectly estimated) other visitors’
expenditures seem reasonable, taking into account the length of stay in the parks. Visitors
spend on average around five hours in the park, leaving relatively little time to other
activities in the area for day visitors. It may also be assumed that park visitors undertake a
certain proportion of their food and beverage spending in the area inside the park.
45 Engebretsen and Dybedal, 1996, pp. 79-84.
8.1.4 Length of stay in host area
The length of stay (number of days in local area) of staying visitors varies by type of
accommodation. In hotels, motels, etc. park visitors stay about two nights. With camping
and staying with friends and relatives, the average is roughly three nights, and with owned
or rented holiday cabins the average is three to four nights. The average number of nights
spent in the host area for visitors attributable to the attraction is presented in table 28.
The average stays for all attributable visitors accommodated in the host area were 2.2
nights in the Hunderfossen area, 2.7 in Telemark Sommarland area and 3.2 nights in the
Kristiansand area. The differences partly reflect the fact that the parks have different
proportions of short break visitors, base holiday visitors and round trip holiday visitors
(see table 13). Kristiansand Dyrepark has for instance a larger proportion of base holiday
visitors and a smaller proportion of short break visitors than the two other parks.
Table 28. Average number of overnights spent in host area by type of accommodation
Hotel and similar accommodation 1.86 2.37 2.35
Camping 2.34 2.88 2.96
Rented or own holiday home/holiday cabin 2.56 3.24 4.19
Friends and relatives 1.59 2.80 2.97
Other 2.76 2.79 4.14
Total 2.24 2.74 3.21
Note: Average length of stay at TusenFryd could not be estimated for each type of accommodation. Total average is
2.2 nights.
8.1.5 Estimated impacts: visitor expenditure additionality
Before estimating total attributable expenditures, the visitor numbers have to be adjusted
for multi-visits (two or more visits on the same trip) among staying visitors in the host
area. In some of the parks a relatively high proportion of multi-visits was recorded. In
Telemark Sommarland, 20 per cent of staying visitors come into this category; among
visitors who spent three or more nights in the area, the proportion was 32 per cent. In
Kristiansand Dyrepark the figures were 17 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively. In
Hunderfossen Familiepark and TusenFryd these percentages were low, 7 and 3 per cent,
respectively for all staying visitors.
The local impacts of the parks in terms of expenditure additionality can now be derived for
each visitor category from the numbers of attributable visitors (reduced by proportion of
multi-visits) and the daily expenditures and length of stay for each type of accommodation
(table 29).
The visitor expenditures, particularly the off-site expenditures, are less correlated to the
total number of visitors. A comparison of the figures in tables 26 and 29 clearly illustrates
this. The important features are the proportion of staying visitors and the additionality
factors (proportions of visitors who came to the area because of the park). At the upper end
of the scale one finds Telemark Sommarland, which has the highest proportion of staying
visitors and the highest additionality factor. At the other end there is TusenFryd outside
Oslo, with a large number of excursionists living in the host area and low additionality
factors among the other visitors. One could say that, in terms of impacts, the park is
suffering from having a strong local market and being situated in the capital area of
Norway, implying many visit purposes.
Table 29. Visitor expenditure additionality. Total expenditures in local area, by
visitor category and park. Period 19 June – 13 Aug. 1995, millions NOK
Visitor category Hunderfossen Telemark S. Kr.sand D. TusenFryd
Staying visitors 28.9 50.5 41.7 8.2
Day visitors (on holiday trip) 1.6 2.4 2.7 2.1
Excursionists (from residence) 1.9 2.5 1.2 1.1
Total off-site expenditures 32.4 55.4 45.6 11.4
On-site expenditures
– all park visitors 39.4 32.4 61.4 48.1
Total 71.8 87.8 107.0 59.5
Total number of visitors 211,800 207,600 296,700 223,800
Some final comments should be made about the choice of geographical area for studies of
economic impacts. The estimates of visitor additionality and attributable expenditures
must be seen in the context of the relatively small local areas defined for the analyses. It
may seem from the case studies that a remote area like that of Telemark Sommarland is
the best choice for a new major attraction, which is evidently too narrow a conclusion.
Firstly, visitors may have travelled to the local area because of the park, but may not
necessarily have travelled to the region for the same reason. Generally, the larger the area
considered, the less the relative pull effect of a single attraction. Secondly, neither benefits
for tourism enterprises outside the local area nor expenditure displacement in surrounding
areas are taken into account in this study. One should be aware of the problem that the size
and nature of economic impact depend on how the local area is geographically defined.
8.2 Generation of Guest-nights and Attraction Visits
8.2.1 Guest nights
During the estimation process, the number of guest nights in various types of
accommodation have indirectly been presented through the staying visitor numbers and
the average length of stay in the area. By combining these two variables, figures can be
presented for guest nights in host areas generated by the existence of the park. As in the
expenditure estimations, the figures are adjusted for multi-visits to avoid double counting
of guest nights. Table 30 shows the numbers of guest nights generated by the park by type
of accommodation.
Table 30. Number of guest nights in host area by type of accommodation. Visitors
who stated that park visit was main reason for coming to the host area
Hotel and similar accommodation 25,000 48,500 25,000 –
Camping 40,500 95,000 58,000 –
Rented holiday home/holiday cabin 23,500 17,000 52,500 –
Friends and relatives 3,000 4,500 8,500 –
Other 8,000 15,000 9,000 –
Total 100,000 180,000 153,000 22,000
Table 30 indicates that there are substantial numbers of guest nights generated by the
peripheral parks in their respective host areas. The importance of TusenFryd is minor in
this respect. Figures may not be estimated for each accommodation category, but of
approximately 22,000 guest nights 17,000 are estimated to be spent in paid
accommodation. The rest were spent with friends or relatives.
The relative importance of the parks may unfortunately not be estimated because data on
total number of visitor guest nights in the respective host areas are not available.
8.2.2 Visits to other attractions in host areas
The previous presentation has shown that the three peripherally located parks are all
attractions that may be classified as flagship attractions. The number and scale of other
attractions near these parks vary (see chapter 7.3). There are few other commercial
attractions within the host areas of Telemark Sommarland and Kristiansand Dyrepark, but
there is a variety of medium-scale attractions in the Lillehammer area, which is the host
area of Hunderfossen Familiepark.
The observed demand for other attractions at each park is assumed to be interrelated with
several other variables. To what degree the park visitors visit other attractions is obviously
dependent on the number and quality of attractions offered in the park areas and how these
attractions match the market segments of the park. It is also dependent on the length of
stay in the area, which in turn may be influenced by the park concept, the tourism industry
– and the other attractions offered. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see the effects of the
respective parks on the neighbouring attractions to give an impression of possible
competition, synergy or spill-over effects.
Table 31 gives a general view of the park visitors’ use of other attractions in the
neighbouring areas of the three peripheral parks. The table is based on the number of
respondents who have visited at least one of the attractions specified in the questionnaire.
The figures include all visitors to the parks, not only the visitors attributable to the park.
Table 31. Proportion of visitors visiting other attractions in host areas by type of trip.
Excursion from
Short break
Base holiday of 3
nights or more
Round trip
No attractions visited 89 69 60 64
1-2 attractions visited 8 26 29 29
3 or more attractions visited 3 5 11 7
Total 100 100 100 100
As expected, few excursionists visit other attractions. Number of visits at other attractions
increase by length of trip. Among short break visitors there are about 30 per cent who visit
other attractions in the host areas. Among people who are on a holiday trip, the equivalent
figures are 36 for visitors who are on a round trip holiday and 40 per cent for people who
are on a base holiday trip.
Table 32 shows visit frequencies for visitors in each park. The figures include all visitors
to the parks, and are based on an open question about whether the park was the only
attraction visited during the trip. The possibility that answers may include attractions
outside the host areas is assumed to be the main reason why the figures (for instance for
excursionists) seem to be higher than the average recorded in table 31.
The highest figures are found for Hunderfossen Familiepark and TusenFryd. This may be
explained by the observation that the attractions there are more developed in numbers,
scale and variety than at the two other parks.
Table 32. Proportion of visitors visiting at least one other attraction during the trip by
type of trip. Percentage
Excurs. from
Short break
Round trip
Hunderfossen Fam. 21 67 81 65 58
Telemark Sommarl. 14 21 42 39 28
Kristiansand D. 29 15 24 23 24
TusenFryd 20 41 49 51 31
When comparing markets for attractions within a specified area, there are three different
effects that may be of particular interest. Firstly, whether attractions are competing for the
same customers. Secondly, whether major attractions draw visitors that also smaller
attractions may benefit from (spill-over). The third type of effect is synergy, which occurs
when the drawing power of attractions is greater than the sum of the individual powers.46
Of these three types, spill-over is the most direct effect concerning impacts. However,
synergy effects may also be seen as an impact issue when the attraction in question is
stated as the most important reason for coming to the area.
46 Wanhill 1996a, p. 10.
Where visitors who came for other main purposes than attraction visits are concerned,
there are competition effects, but naturally no spill-over effects from any attraction. There
may also be some synergy effects, that to some extent may be counted as impacts of the
As for visitors who come because of one specific attraction (additionality), there may be
spill-over effects but no competition effects. Additionality may, however, sometimes be
confused with synergy effects. At destinations with a cluster of attractions, the real reason
for coming to an area may be the variety of attractions, although the major attraction may
be the most important single reason. On this matter, the formulation of the visit
motivation question in the theme park surveys may not be precise enough. By using the
term main reason for coming to the area synergy effects may not be excluded among what
we have called attributable visitors.
Regarding the question of spill-over effects, figures for attraction visits corresponding to
those in table 32 among attributable visitors show that these visitors also to a large extent
visit other attractions in the area. At Hunderfossen Familiepark 44 per cent of the
attributable visitors visited at least one other attraction. The corresponding figure for
Telemark Sommarland was 27 per cent, for Kristiansand Dyrepark 19 per cent and for
TusenFryd 19 per cent.
Table 33 shows the estimated numbers of visitors in the peripheral parks who have also
visited specified attractions in the host area or in nearby areas.
In the Lillehammer area there seem to be considerable spill-over effects for the smaller
attractions. There may also, however, be certain synergy effects emerging from the cluster
of several different activities found in the area. Total visitor numbers are available for
Maihaugen (169,000 in 1995) and The Norwegian Road Museum (37,000 in 1996) only. It
is assumed that the number of park visitors who visit the other attractions also constitute
substantial proportions of the total visitor numbers at the other attractions listed in table
In the Kristiansand Dyrepark and Telemark Sommarland areas there are evident spill-over
effects, but to a smaller degree than in Lillehammer. The visitor number figures in table
33 do not, however, reflect the relatively large proportions of visitors in these parks who
stated that they were also visiting other attractions. One explanation for this is that there
are several other minor sites and activities inside and outside the host areas that the
respondents may have taken into consideration when asked.
Table 33. Number of park visitors (000s) visiting other attractions in host area or
Hunderfossen Familiepark Telemark Sommarland Kr.sand Dyrepark
Maihaugen Folk Museum 43 Telemark Waterway 31 Mineral Park, Evje * 15
Winter Olympic Park 60 Ski Museum, Morgedal 6 Sea sightseeing trips 8
Lilleputthammer miniature
54 Skjærgårdsparken Indoor
Waterland, Langesund *
6 Ravnedalen Nature
Norwegian Road Museum 24 Industrial Workers’ museum * 4 The Artillery Museum 10
Lillehammer main street 67 Setesdal Railroad 7
Olympic bobsleigh course 31 The County Museum 5
* Located outside host area.
In Kristiansand there are assumed to be considerable synergy effects between the park and
the traditional holiday activities of the region. The existence of these attractive elements
reduces the relative importance of the park as a tourist pull factor, but in combination with
a park visit these activities seem to constitute a very popular holiday concept. In the area
of Telemark Sommarland there are few attractions and virtually no of synergy effects.
9. Concluding Summary
9.1 The Problem and the Approach
This study does not aim to answer the question of whether it is good or bad policy to locate
theme parks in peripheral areas. A more indirect approach is chosen: to focus on large
attractions like theme parks and their potential as an instrument for local and regional
development. The objective is to produce relevant knowledge on the possibilities for
healthy businesses, and on how and to what degree local development may be achieved
from the establishment of a large attraction. The study approach is a combination of two
complementary elements rather than a traditional theoretical/empirical approach.
Nevertheless, the two elements are a general discussion on theories and experiences and a
set of case studies. The case studies are based on visitor surveys in the four Norwegian
leisure parks which both by scale and by what they offer may be classified as theme parks.
Besides producing general knowledge on theme parks and flagship attractions, the general
discussion provides a necessary framework for utilising the material from the case studies.
A basic assumption emerging from this framework is that the empirical analysis should
focus on the factors behind the drawing power. These factors may be roughly categorised
as characteristics of the attraction itself (conceptual requirements) and characteristics of
the markets, the host area, and the tourism industry of the host area and the region. In
other words, one should apply an organisational perspective, where the role of an
attraction is seen in the context of both the characteristics of the attraction itself and of its
spatial and functional surroundings.
The case studies comprise three parks that clearly may be classified as peripheral. The
fourth park is situated outside the capital city of Oslo. Although the original methodology
and approach behind the Norwegian theme park surveys was relatively simple, the case
studies provide the necessary dimension to complement the general approach. They
illustrate well most essential issues of peripherally located flagship attractions, for instance
how it is possible to attract a sufficient number of visitors and how the different spatial and
functional contexts influence local economic impacts.
9.2 Theme Parks and Markets in General
The theme park sector has been rapidly growing in the USA (from where the term
originates) and in Europe. Most major parks are located in densely populated areas to
attract the day visitor (excursionist) market and/or in areas where a well developed
tourism industry – often including other major attractions – provides potential markets and
tourism facilities for attracted visitors.
The theme park concept has also been adapted in more sparsely populated areas, although
on a smaller scale than is observed at the major parks of for instance the UK, Germany or
France. The major parks in the central areas of these countries (and also in countries like
Belgium, Holland and Spain) normally have visitor numbers of one million or more, while
the Scandinavian parks with few exceptions draw fewer than 500,000 visitors annually.
Obviously the safest way to success and business viability is a combination of large local
markets, large holiday markets and a strong drawing power. On the other hand, where a
local or regional tourism industry is less developed, the establishment of a major attraction
opens new perspectives for local and regional development. The idea is that such an
attraction will have a drawing power that generates new tourism traffic to an area. The flip
side of the coin is, however, that the attraction is also totally dependent on this drawing
power to compensate for the absence of sufficient local or regional markets to survive as a
commercial enterprise.
9.3 Scandinavian Theme Parks and Their Markets
In the Scandinavian countries there are few parks that can rely on the excursionist
markets. The exceptions are the traditional fairgrounds of the major cities Stockholm and
Copenhagen, although substantial proportions of visitors in these parks are tourists.
Theme parks in peripheral areas obviously have to be based on tourism. One model is to
exploit established tourist markets in the region of the park, attracting day visitors from
their holiday residence. Another model is to develop parks that by their own drawing
power are able to compensate for insufficient market potential in the existing excursionist
or holiday markets.
The general picture in Scandinavia is that a symbiosis (a reciprocal action) of existing
holiday markets and the park’s drawing power is the most common market basis. The
individual drawing power is a necessary but not sufficient condition for business viability.
This model is also the case for the Norwegian parks. The three peripheral parks all have a
good product to offer their visitors, who primarily come from the domestic family market.
The parks have the necessary attractions, identity and marketing that make them primary
attractions both locally, regionally and nationally. They are also located in or near the
most important domestic tourism regions. This implies that their markets are founded both
on their drawing power and the existence of traditional holiday and short break markets
within driving distance. All three parks have relatively small local markets, but are still
situated within day trip driving distance from some of the most densely populated areas in
Norway. The parks appeal to the domestic market only, and the population of Norway just
exceeds four million residents. Therefore, it is essential that the peripheral park draws
visitors more or less from the whole country. This in turn means that they have to rely on
both excursionist, short break travellers (1-2 nights) and people on holiday. Roughly, the
park visitors consist of equal proportions of excursionists, short break visitors, base
holiday visitors and round trip holiday visitors. At the urban park, however, two thirds of
the visitor numbers are local residents and excursionists from nearby regions.
9.4 Drawing Power and Geographical Markets
An essential question is how far the different geographical markets reach. The population
numbers in each distance zone from the parks show strong variations (particularly
depending on the distance from the densely populated Oslo area), which have quite an
influence on the absolute number of visitors from each distance zone. In all respects,
particularly for generalisation purposes, the most relevant measure is the relative number
of visitors (visitors as a percentage of population) within each distance zone.
The excursionist market stretches as far as 200 kilometres. The relative number of
excursionist visitors drops considerably when the driving distance is more than 100
kilometres from the park. In the short break markets the relative numbers are highest
among residents living between 100 and 350 kilometres from the park. The holiday
market starts at about 200 kilometres from a park, but in fact it stretches out far beyond
the 500 kilometre mark, confirming the national appeal of the parks.
The absolute number of visitors is the product of the relative number and the number of
residents within each distance zone. Although the parks draw considerable numbers of
holiday visitors, this should evidently not be interpreted as if distance did not matter – that
holiday markets would compensate for excursionists and short break travellers if there
were few inhabitants within 300 kilometres from the park. An interesting point, however,
is that the urban park does not draw more visitors than the other three parks. This may
indicate that holiday and short break markets may compensate for reduced excursionist
potential, but it may also be the result of better family holiday concepts at the peripheral
parks. Furthermore, one should not overlook the fact that many of the peripheral parks’
holiday visitors live relatively close to the urban located park and thus belong to the
excursionist market of that park.
In any event, a major conclusion is that it is of huge importance that all parks are situated
in the south or southeastern parts of Norway. This on the one hand implies that roughly
three million people (three-quarters of the Norwegian population) are living within a
distance of 500 kilometres. It also implies that there is a population basis in each distance
zone that provides the possibility of exploiting opportunities in both excursionist, short
break and holiday markets.
The drawing power (which may be expressed as visitor additionality) is relatively high in
the three parks. This is crucial for their existence, but it also indicates the parks’ high
importance for local tourism. At Telemark Sommarland, which is the most remote park
(in terms of tourism development), 81 per cent of visitors staying in the host area (staying
visitors) and 64 per cent of day visitors (holiday or short break visitors staying in another
area) were additional. At the two other peripheral parks, Hunderfossen Familiepark in
Lillehammer and Kristiansand Dyrepark, the corresponding figures were just over 50 per
cent for staying visitors and 44 per cent for day visitors. The urban park (TusenFryd
outside Oslo) has far from the same drawing power (25 % for staying visitors and 21 % for
day visitors). This is mainly because of the variety of other motives for visiting Oslo (other
attractions, friend and relatives, etc.). The number of staying and day visitors is also much
lower because the visitors are largely local residents.
9.5 Economic Impacts
Strong drawing power and a high proportion of staying visitors are highly important
factors for local economic impacts. Impacts are measured for a defined host area
consisting of the local and the neighbouring municipalities of the park. In this study these
are simply measured by the on-site (inside park) and off-site (outside park) expenditures.
The principal estimation model of the study defines the individual off-site expenditures as
a function of type of visitor (staying, day or excursionist from outside host area), type of
accommodation and length of stay in host area. Expenditure displacement issues are
discussed, but not taken into account.
The on-site expenditures are counted for all visitors, and the off-site expenditures are
counted for all visitors who have stated that they came to the host area mainly because of
the park. In all three parks more than 90 per cent of the revenues earned by local
businesses outside the parks came from staying visitors (spending at least one night in the
For the four parks there are varying attributable expenditure results. Telemark
Sommarland had 208,000 visitors in the school holiday season of 1995. There was an
estimated number of 180,000 guest nights in the host area and off-site expenditures of 55
million NOK by park attributable visitors. At Hunderfossen Familiepark there were
212,000 visitors, 100,000 guest nights and off-site expenditures of 32 million NOK. At
Kristiansand Dyrepark there were 297,000 visitors, 153,000 attributable guest nights and
46 million NOK off-site expenditures. At TusenFryd there were 224,000 visitors, 22,000
guest nights and 11 million NOK in off-site expenditures attributable to the park.
The off-site expenditures are only indirectly influenced by the total visitor numbers. The
important factors are the visitor additionality factor and the proportion of staying visitors.
A major conclusion is that there are definitely contextual differences, particularly
regarding the scale of tourism and the region’s stage of tourism development, that may
explain the variations in visitor additionality, numbers of staying visitors and volumes of
attributable expenditures that appear between the parks. This is particularly evident for the
urban park TusenFryd. But reasons for impact variation between Telemark Sommarland,
Hunderfossen Familiepark and Kristiansand Dyrepark may also be traced to contextual
Telemark Sommarland has considerably higher attributable off-site expenditures, both in
absolute terms and relative to total park revenues, than the other peripheral parks. The
chief explanation for this is that Telemark Sommarland is more dominant within its local
area than the other parks with respect to tourism. The high proportion of staying visitors
reflects the park’s location outside traditional summer holiday areas, and the fact that
accommodation capacity has to a larger extent developed from the existence of the park
itself. This has resulted in a relatively strong concentration of the region’s accommodation
capacity in the nearby surroundings of the park.
The high additionality factor among staying visitors is a result of the fact that there is no
other attraction or activity in the local area of Telemark Sommarland with any comparable
pull effect. At Lillehammer there is a larger variety of attractions, while in Kristiansand
the general summer holiday activities like swimming and fishing are believed to be of
major importance for holiday tourism. The higher expenditures estimated for the
Kristiansand Dyrepark area compared to Hunderfossen Familiepark seem to be merely a
consequence of the former’s higher total visitor numbers, although the tourism context and
the market of people on holiday are relatively different. For example, there are longer
individual stays among visitors at the former, but there is a higher proportion of visitors
using cheap accommodation – staying with friends and relatives or in rented or owned
holiday homes.
The higher off-site expenditures at Telemark Sommarland compared to Hunderfossen
Familiepark are to some extent the result of Telemark Sommarland’s waterland concept,
which is believed to be the main reason why visitors stay in the area some 25 per cent
longer than in the area of Hunderfossen Familiepark.
9.6 Closing Comments
The case studies reveal that theme parks may be successfully established in peripheral
areas. The Norwegian peripherally located parks attract large numbers of new visitors to
their local area, making them flagship attractions, and so they contribute considerably to
local tourism development and local incomes. They draw visitors from large areas, hence
they are successful despite the fact that the regional population numbers are low.
The highest impact in terms of expenditure in the local area that is attributable to the
attraction is recorded where a local accommodation industry is developed alongside that
attraction. Visitors who stay in the area have a much higher expenditure inside the area
than other visitors. Telemark Sommarland is an example of this type of tourism
development, where considerable accommodation and catering capacity have been
established along with the development of the park.
The other two flagship parks in the study are also examples of attractions that create new
traffic which leads to the establishment of new tourism enterprises in their respective
areas. But they benefit more from an already well developed tourism traffic in both the
local area and in the surrounding areas. They are also benefit more from a large tourism
traffic passing through the area.
To reach the position of being a local and regional power for tourism development,
however, it is required that a park have an attractive force that reaches nation-wide. The
park must be within reach for substantial numbers of both excursionists and short break
travellers and people on holiday. The park must also attract substantial numbers of
visitors from each group. It can hardly manage this unless it is located fewer than 300
kilometres from the densely populated areas and in or near one of the main holiday
regions for the domestic markets. To be an attraction of national importance, the park
concept must be unique and the park large enough to offer the necessary variety of
attractions, entertainment and experiences.
In sparsely populated countries like Norway the market requirements imply that there are
few locations that are suitable except where parks are already established. The excursionist
market is found within 200 kilometres from the park and the short break market within
350 kilometres. The holiday traveller market comprises more or less the whole country,
but can only be exploited to the full extent if the park is situated in an already popular
holiday area.
An important message to both entrepreneurs and policy makers (public authorities and
public finance institutions) is that it takes considerable investments to make new flagship
attractions in peripheral areas. Talking about attractions with annual attendances of at
least 200,000, theme parks constitute the few examples of new flagship attractions that
have proved to be successful in Norway. A large theme park is possibly the only type of
new attraction that may reach the status of a flagship in peripheral areas.
The four theme parks – each one with its own identity and uniqueness – seem to have
succeeded by filling a gap in the domestic tourism and leisure markets, while a few other
attempts have failed. The four parks are all situated in the most densely populated part of
Norway, the south and south-east. The three parks that are found in peripheral areas are
nevertheless located at least 240 kilometres away from each other, and at least 180
kilometres away from the park in the Oslo area.
This study, like other previous studies, draws the conclusion that there is a very limited
number of theme parks which may be financially viable in regions or countries where the
population is small. There should only be a limited geographical overlap with other parks
in the excursionist and short break markets if the park is to obtain the necessary number of
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