The 1970s and 80s were times of trouble for Norwegian campsites with growing competition from charter flights and good income.
Access to cars increased five times for young people from 1962 to 1970. There is a connection to other prerequisites of camping, the growth in the number of tents and sleeping bags. Here is a study from 1968 on vacation habits.
By the seventies the Norwegian population had significantly increased its household income. This had two major consequences.
One was that many could afford to buy a cabin or cottage in the mountains or by the sea, and new areas were developed and are still being developed, to enable the rapidly growing population to fulfill its dream of having a private cabin. This dream is deeply rooted in the Norwegian people.
Some also preferred recreational boats to camping, and according to a caravan seller in 1971 colour TVs was their strongest competitor. Today this argument may seem odd, but was perhaps a reality with the prices on TV-sets in those days. Colour TV was introduced in Norway in 1972.
Popup camper (Oslo Museum 1960)
The second consequence of rising private income and spending was that people could afford to travel abroad. An increased demand for vacations abroad corresponded with an exploding supply of charter trips to warmer countries. In addition prices dropped to affordable levels even for families on average incomes. According to one study 4,000 Norwegians went abroad on charter planes in 1960. In 1978 the number had grown to 363,000 persons. Spain alone received 200,000 of them.
In a survey about types of accomodation on longest summer vacation trip in 1974, 20 % responded tent or caravan. Caravans made up only 2 % indicating that their future was yet to come. The same survey shows that we traveled by car in 67 % of the cases. Only 5 % in 1970 and 7 % in 1974 took a charter flight on their longest vacation.
A historical survey 1950-1990 shows with an index of 100 in 1970 a growth to almost 140 in overnight campingsite stays only six years later, then a decline to below 120 in 1987. Another increase pushed this number to nearly 140 in 1990. It was the foreigner visitors who clearly pressed this positive development during the last years.
The number of nights spent on Norwegian camping grounds was in 1970 about 4.3 million and in 1978 about 5.8 million, an increase of almost 40 %. This rise, along with that of charter flights, meant that mass tourism had come to the country.
On the other hand, by the turn of the next decade the number of nights on campingsites had fallen to 5 million (1991). This may not be entirely correct as I will discuss in the next section. It all has to do with a rising number of caravans.
This blog entry is part of a longer article in five sections about campsites in Norway during the last 50 years.
Part (1) The beginning, the classic period of tents in the 1950s and 60s.
Part (2) My camping experience from the 1960s and 70s.
Part (3) Growing competition from charter flights and good incomes in the 1970s and 80s. Caravans are starting to dominate.
Part (4) Decade of rapid transformation, the 1990s. Permanent sites for caravans, more cabins and caravans with high standards, tents out, enter the motorhomes.
Part (5) The last decade, recent developments and further reading.
Les artikkelserien om campingplasser på den norskpråklige delen av dette nettstedet.