South Floridians with ties to Scandinavia are gearing up to welcome new flights launching this weekend between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and the Nordic region.
Scandinavian low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle on Friday will launch service between Fort Lauderdale and Copenhagen, Denmark. On Saturday and Sunday respectively, the carrier will also begin service between Fort Lauderdale and Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden.
The three new routes, which will operate twice-weekly, are the first regular scheduled service between Scandinavia and Fort Lauderdale, airport officials have said.
For travel companies specializing in the Scandinavian market, Norwegian’s move to connect the destinations is good news.
“We’re ecstatic that Norwegian has taken this decision to add direct service between Fort Lauderdale and Scandinavia. It’s needed,” said Pia Dahlquist of Yellow Brick Roads, a full-service tour operator that helps Scandinavians plan trips to South Florida and other parts of the country. “Fort Lauderdale has been a Scandinavian stronghold for many years,” but there’d only been charter flights before, she added.
The new routes certainly bode well for tourism, many say.
“The six weekly flights [overall] will increase visits dramatically and will give [Scandinavian] people living here more options for connecting back to the old country,” said Per-Olof Loof, honorary consul of Sweden, based in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s also a great thing for people who want to come to Florida.”
Peter Hult, president of The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce of Fort Lauderdale & Palm Beach said Scandinavian tourists tend to stay on average 15-16 days in the United States, compared with Europeans (Germans, French, Spanish) who stay 8-11 days.
Scandinavians also spend on average almost 25 percent more per day in the U.S. than tourists from these parts of Europe, he added.
In 2012, roughly 242,000 Scandinavian visitors (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland) spent $39.7 million on shopping, $44.8 million on rooms and $53.1 million on food in Broward County, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Norwegian’s new routes will also help foster and cement commerce between the destinations as interest in setting up businesses in the U.S. is already high in Scandinavia, particularly among Swedes, Hult said. “[The chamber’s] purpose is to make our region a very viable option for Swedes wanting to set up businesses in the U.S.”
The regular flights will enable entrepreneurs to commute weekly (which wasn’t possible before) and the ease of direct service, will entice more people from Scandinavia with “great disposal income” to start traveling to Fort Lauderdale, Hult said.