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Penny-pinching Germans frustrate Norwegian business owners

Although known as an expensive country, Norway is a popular destination for German tourists. The locals, however, aren't always so pleased about their Teutonic visitors' spending habits.

A camper at a Norwegian campground

Many German campers bring some of their food with them

The number of German tourists in Oslo alone has gone up by 29 percent since last year, and they make up the second largest national tourism group, after Swedes. Some Norwegian locals, however, don't feel Norway is getting much out of the visitors.

"There are a lot of Germans staying in the campsite, but not very many actually come in to the restaurant," said Daniel Fritz, who works at Markporten Restaurant outside of Oslo. "We have tried to offer discounts to encourage them to come in, but nothing seems to be working. I think they bring their own food."

There is a common belief that German tourists arrive with their fully loaded campers, don't buy much while visiting, and then leave their garbage behind when they go. However, many of the German tourists said that is not only untrue, it's impossible.

"Yes, we will bring some things with us; Norway is a very expensive country," said Michael Hofman, who was visiting Norway with his wife and two children. "But most of our food will be bought here, as we really can't bring enough to last the full time."

More than one way to spend

Hildegard Pongratz-Porr at a table in front of her camper

Germans do spend money in Norway, Pongratz-Porr said

If you ask anyone associated with VisitOSLO, a tourism organization operated out of the capital city, they will give you a fairly positive report about the German tourists, in spite of what the locals may think.

"Yes, there are some local people who hold this perception [that German tourists do not spend much money], but I do not agree with the analysis of how much a tourist - camper - spends in Norway," said Tor Sannerud, administrative director of VisitOSLO. "They spend money on things such as fishing - renting the boats, buying the gear - and they do go to tourist attractions as well."

While there may be some frustration amongst the locals, there is also some understanding. Christopher Zahl works at a grocery store and said although the Germans are not known for spending money on the frivolous things such as beer or candy, they're often in buying the basics like milk, bread and vegetables.

"Norway is an expensive country," Christopher Zahl agreed. "I can see why they don't spend as much as maybe they could. It doesn't really upset me, but I can see how it might affect the shop owners."

Expense is not a deterrent

The Hofman family

A family of four can't bring everything they need for a vacation

For some tourists, the money isn't the real issue. While a good holiday can cost a lot, it doesn't necessarily have to break the bank.

"For me, it's not that I can't pay, but I think it is very important to show the children that you can have a holiday with only a little money," said Thilo Kaudelka, while staying at a campsite with his two young sons. "Of course, we spend money while in the city for attractions, but we don't go to hotels or restaurants."

Hildegard Pongratz-Porr has been visiting Norway with her husband every summer for the past 20 years. She acknowledged the country is not cheap, but strongly disagreed with the notion that German tourists don't spend much money in Norway because of that.

"Of course we spend money! We have to buy food here, and the campsites are not free either," she said. "Yes, it is a little expensive, but we can afford it, and we do spend some money."

Author: Leila Asdal

Editor: Sean Sinico

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