Focusing on short-haul school trips

Falstadsenteret DriftLevanger

The corona pandemic created major challenges for the Falstad Centre Drift. With funding from Innovation Norway, the tourism company has utilised this time of crisis to restructure.

The pandemic led to a sharp decrease in course and conference guests visiting the Falstad Centre Drift, an authentic World War II memorial centre in Levanger. In addition, exhibitions, events and teaching programmes for young people had to be cancelled.

This is a good example of a company that uses the challenges of the pandemic to create new and sustainable tourism experiences. They have a very exciting restructuring project.
Grete Løveid, Innovation Norway Trøndelag.

An inquiry from Sweden

When a class from a Swedish school contacted the centre in March 2020 to see if they could visit because the pandemic put an end to a planned trip to Auschwitz, general manager Odd Ivar Berg had an idea. Although the pandemic also prevented the class from coming to Norway, a greater focus on school trips could be something for the future.

Not long after, Innovation Norway announced a grant for restructuring and reopening the tourism industry. The Levanger-based company discussed the idea with an adviser at Innovation Norway and received input on what they should apply for.

“The sparring session and dialogue with the adviser really motivated us. Funding from Innovation Norway has been crucial to the restructuring project. The announcement was very timely. We already knew about Innovation Norway’s expertise and experience when it comes to our industry, but we had never really been involved in an innovative project ourselves – until now”, says Berg.

“This is a good example of a company that uses the challenges of the pandemic to create new and sustainable tourism experiences. They have a very exciting restructuring project”, says Grete Løveid, finance adviser at Innovation Norway Trøndelag.

More environmentally friendly modes of travel

The Falstad Centre Drift has adapted their accommodation facilities and they are creating a dedicated teaching room. In addition, they are working on developing a holistic offer that will be tested out on school classes. Berg states that they have already received many bookings and received school classes that have stayed at the centre over several days.

“The experience has been very good, both for us and the school classes. They see that the Falstad Centre is well suited for pupils who are learning about the history of imprisonment during World War II, the Holocaust, human rights and democracy. Even though travelling to Auschwitz, for example, is important, we believe that the learning outcomes are just as great here”, says Berg.

Even though the initiative came about due to the pandemic, increased environmental awareness may be the thing that takes this further. It is likely that schools and parent groups will choose to travel to a Norwegian memorial by bus or train rather than fly. The main target group is pupils who attend lower and upper secondary school.

“We expect our turnover to triple, based only on the Norwegian market for knowledge-based trips, but there is also great potential in neighbouring markets. We are carrying out market analyses that involve Sweden, the Netherlands and England, and we feel very confident that Swedish schools will be visiting us as early as next year”, says Berg.

  • Grants for strengthening liquidity of the tourism industry