Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another phase, a new face

The recent merger of the Trade Council and the Tourist Board into one Trade & Tourism Council is likely to remain high on the new managing director’s agenda for a while—but it doesn’t stop her from bringing scores of innovative ideas to the table. Búi Tyril interviews Elin Heinesen, the new Managing Director of the Trade & Tourism Council.

By Búi Tyril, Annual Business Report 2007

It was widely seen as signifying at least a generational change, if not ushering in something profoundly new, when Elin Heinesen in early 2007 was appointed managing director of the recently formed Faroe Islands Trade & Tourism Council—the merged Faroe Islands Trade Council and Faroe Islands Tourist Board. Not that selecting a female as head of a government agency will necessarily lift eyebrows in a modern society; it’s rather the person, seen in her potential as an inspirational leader and charged with combining the two separate bodies into one unified organization.

Known as a business entrepreneur and something of an artist as well, with a firm footing in media and corporate communications, Ms Heinesen will doubtlessly encourage fledgling creatives to realize their international ambitions. Beyond that, she will be likely to motivate those whose new ideas may offer anything from incremental process improvements to breakthrough business models. Her job will probably consist in facilitating international business contacts to help Faroese companies build their exports, and last but not least, assisting the Faroese develop their incoming travel business.

Speaking of promotion and tourism, before her first day on the new job—which entailed leaving her position as editor of a major Danish in-store magazine and moving back to her native islands in the North after more than twenty years of expatriate life—Ms Heinesen aired an idea that immediately caught the attention of many: Why not make some spectacular tourist attraction out of the soon-abandoned military radar installation on the summit of the Sornfelli mountain. Hey! did you get that one? (See separate article.)

With good management experience—originally trained as a screenwriter, by the way—Ms Heinesen will no doubt use her new position to influence the development of the Faroese business scene. To this end she’ll be backed by the fact that the former Trade Council offered business development advice and vital export promotion services for Faroese companies in the last twenty-five years, while the former Tourist Board invested decades of work and financial resources in market and product development to help build what now is an up and coming tourism sector in the Faroes.

Progressive thinking has ever been at the heart of Ms Heinesen’s personal values. “Nobody can be an expert in every subject,” she says, “but the ability to take a bird’s eye view is often very valuable. I believe in the idea of looking toward the future with confidence yet with realism. In today’s extremely fast-changing world, it’s essential to develop and apply strategies for staying on top of things. Using information and communication technology effectively can make virtually any project so much smoother, quicker and less expensive and what’s more, it will define the very nature of projects—you can’t afford to miss out on it.”

But technology alone won’t do the job; it’s people that shape technology and business processes and, according to Ms Heinesen, the human element remains the most important element in any organization.

“This is interesting because everything is about people and how we interact… But information, communication and technology is forging a new reality; it’s the ‘leveled playing field’ where small companies and nations can be the winners in a myriad markets. Things like innovation and creativity are becoming pivotal in every area of business, and a country like the Faroes has a distinct strength in this context. But I think it’s crucial that we use this as an opportunity.”

As people living in an increasingly globalized environment the Faroese, much like the rest of the world, need to embrace change to whatever extent necessary, and the ability to cooperate effectively and develop strong networks is becoming more important.

“To stay competitive, we have to be inventive and learn how to develop new concepts and think in new terms, to do things in a different way. And when setting our goals and objectives, we have to be strategic and think ahead yet in following through on plans we have to be steady. But nobody can be an expert in every field and that’s why networking is so important… knowing whom to turn to in which situation. With all the new technology—and the Faroes is incredibly well connected—we’re looking at something very intesting.”

Friday, November 16, 2007

Care to dine with a view?

If branding the Faroes involves setting up some spectacular tourist attraction, Elin Heinesen presented what could become the ultimate experience for domestic and foreign visitors alike—a marvel of a Cold War museum offering a majestic view of the mountain tops.

By Búi Tyril, Annual Business Report 2007

Before she had even started in her new position as managing director of the Faroe Islands Trade & Tourism Council, Elin Heinesen had heads spinning accross the islands. “Yes, we do have a magical country,” she said in a public speech in Tórshavn, on the occasion of the St. Gregor’s Mass, an annual spring day event celebrated on 12 March. “But how can we create truly unique experiences that could make this country even more magical for visitors?” Then she proposed what made the headlines: let’s convert the abandoned Sornfelli radar domes and the adjacent facilities inside the mountain into a world-class leisure, entertainment and cultural facility.

“We could think big,” Ms Heinesen suggested, “by, for instance, putting up some spectacular landmarks here for people around the world to become enchanted by. In fact, we’ve got some amazing opportunities, of which I’d like to mention just one, as an idea: 750 meters up in the mountains of Streymoy, there lies something which could become a truly unique landmark, unmatched anywhere in the world. The radar domes and the tunnels and caves carved into the Sornfelli mountain, now abandoned by NATO, are still there—like a secret fairy tale castle cut into solid rock, with the radar domes as towers rising on the summit. For many, many years, this fairy tale castle—like the castle in the tale of Sleeping Beauty—was unapproachable and the public was denied access to its experience; but now… at last we are allowed to see what’s hiding up there.”

Faroese media were quick to follow up on the the story and the daily newspaper Sosialurin printed the entire speech. During the following days and weeks, representatives from the tourism industry and the political establishment would weigh in, approving of the idea.

“This mountain isn’t going anywhere,” said Prime Minister Jóannes Eidesgaard according the the public radio ÚF. “Everything is possible if there is a political will,” he added.

Kent Christensen, a former marketing manager of Atlantic Airways and now head of a travel agency startup, observed: “Creating a leisure and entertainment center on Sornfelli is a good idea… Such a thing could come in handy when you promote the Faroes.”

Back at the speech, which turned out to be wholly devoted to the self-same subject, Ms Heinesen’s went on: “When the weather is clear the view from the summit is stupendous… also with the fog filling the valley down below… I’ve been up there myself once, together with a foreign visitor on a beautiful day, enjoying the sunset. He told me he had once scaled the roof top of the world in the Himalayas, where they would have to walk for days in order to reach the altitude that would afford them a view of the mountain tops—a truly breathtaking experience. ‘You are lucky,’ he said, ‘because here you just take a 15 to 20 minute drive from Tórshavn or half an hour from the airport to get a similar spectacular experience. Standing on the Sornfelli and looking over this vast array of mountains felt just as breathtaking as if it were in the Himalayas. This is pure magic!’ He found it unbelievable that we’re keeping this pearl so secret.”

Ms Heinesen mentioned the possibility of using the caves and tunnels of Sornfelli for cultural and educational purposes as well as a leisure and entertainment center.

“For instance, we could use the tunnels in there for exhibitions… as well as for concerts, congressional meetings, courses—perhaps even a Cold War museum, which could attract international attention… We could let someone build a restaurant up in the domes with a view over all the Faroe Islands…”

Regardless of weather conditions, the bunkers and tunnels are likely to attract many, Ms Heinesen said. Importantly, the construction is already in place and refurbishments won’t even have to be very expensive.

“The place is so intriguing in itself that merely being there offers a very special experience in any circumstances… And the best thing of all: We could in fact develop the site at relatively low cost inasmuch as it is already built. The road goes all the way up. There is an area leveled for parking. It couldn’t be more convenient.

“This could become a magnificent landmark for the Faroes—unique in the whole world—with its own history, international history.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


By Elin Heinesen, Managing Director of SamVit - Faroe Islands Enterprise

As people living in an increasingly globalised environment the Faroese, much like the rest of the world, need to embrace change to whatever extent necessary. The ability to cooperate effectively and develop strong networks is becoming more important. And still it is crucial for us to hold on strongly to our unique identity if we want to stay competitive.

The burning question is: What role can a little nation like the Faroe Islands play in a globalised world? In my view information, communication and technology are creating a new reality. It’s the ‘levelled playing field’ where small companies and nations can now compete, whereas before they simply did not stand a chance. Things like innovation and creativity are becoming essential in every area of business, and a nation like the Faroes has a distinct strength in this context. I think it’s crucial that we use this as an opportunity.

To stay competitive, we have to be inventive and learn how to develop new concepts and fresh thinking. And when setting our goals and objectives, we have to be strategic and think ahead – yet in following through on plans we have to be consistent. But nobody can be an expert in every field and that’s why networking is so important… knowing who to turn to when... With all this new technology – and the Faroes are very much up-to-date – we’re looking at something quite interesting.

The World is Hungry for Originality

But what contribution can the Faroe Islands make? In my view, it seems that remote places like the Faroes are becoming more and more interesting to more and more people. I believe that in a world of increasing globalisation the periphery inevitably becomes interesting because it is so different. Just think of Iceland and Bjørk. I believe that people are hungry for originality and authenticity – maybe mainly on the mainland where globalisation has levelled out cultures almost to the point of lost identity. That might be the reason why peripheral countries like the Faroe Islands can now become the focus of attention and therefore – in a way – become a new centre.

A New Frontier

There are still new frontiers to be discovered in the world – and the Faroe Islands might be just that: a new frontier – an unspoiled treasure. People are becoming aware of that. Tourism is now the fastest-growing industry in the Faroes. But what’s so attractive here on this rain-ridden, wind-torn archipelago? So much so that some of our guests return every year, and some even decide to settle down for the rest of their lives? Words like powerful, intense, peaceful and authentic are often used when trying to describe the feel of the Faroes – and the fact that everything is close, whether you want it or not. People are fascinated by the contrasts and the Faroe Islands are truly a land of contrasts: romantic and dramatic – a modern society, in an unforgettable timeless setting.

The New York Times published an article about The Faroe Islands by the journalist Stephen Metcalf on the 25th of March this year. The headline went: “Into the Mystical Unreal Reality of the Faroe Islands”. I’ll quote from this article:

Like Reality and Fairy–Tale in One

“The Faroe Islands is easily the most moodily beautiful place I have ever been. Each island is a giant slice of elaborately tiered basalt, tilted to one side and covered in green, tussocky felt. Streamer clouds, almost mannered in their perfection, encircle the mountains. Rocky cliffs, topped in arêtes and tarns, plunge into the sea, while up from the water jut massive, looming sea stacks. It rains here a lot, and waterfalls flow pretty much continuously.”

This is – in my view – a beautiful poetic description of The Faroes. And let’s stay in the poetic corner. Danish author and jazz singer Suzanne Brøgger, who visited the islands in March this year, described her experience in a radio programme in this way: “It’s a cosmic experience. The Faroe Islands is a country which is – and is not. It is in constant flux. It keeps disappearing: One moment it’s lost in the fog, and suddenly – there it is again in all its magnificent beauty. Like magic. Like reality and fairytale in one. In these majestic surroundings you become almost painfully confronted with life’s vulnerability – and that is really inspirational. That is probably why creative people thrive here and why such magnificent art on an absolute top international level is created here. Actually, I was invited to the island Antigua to sit under a palm tree, but I preferred to visit the Faroe Islands – maybe because it seems to suit my temperament more.”

Bad Weather Has Become Our Advantage

Indeed, the Faroese have a very rich culture and history. We all share a profound love for our country and our heritage. But we have not been so proud of having what we think is probably the worst weather on earth. We cannot imagine that people from countries with warmer and sunnier weather would be interested in visiting a place like this. So even if this country has developed into a modern society fully in line with our neighbours, we have been keeping a low profile outwards for a long time. Living tranquil is living well, they say here.

That is the main reason why the Faroese have kept the secret to themselves, and why the Faroe Islands have not been culturally affected by the outside world as much as many other countries in this part of the world. Consequently the Faroese have a very strong cultural identity, which is one of the things that often amazes visitors. In a world where globalisation – as I said – levels out cultures to the point of lost identity, things have actually combined in favour of the Faroese. In that sense bad weather has formed the surroundings, the skills and the very soul of the Faroese in a favourable way. If you turn it around this way – ‘bad weather’ might just be the reason why you should visit the Faroes!

The Country Holds Many Surprises

For millions of years the roaring ocean with its heavy waves has been slowly eating away at these rocks in the middle of the North Atlantic in a constant battle with the cliffs – leaving almost vertical hillsides that suddenly drop hundreds of meters straight down into the deep blue sea. The ocean climate and the small size of the Faroes may make them one of the wettest countries on earth, so the landscape is traversed by rivers, brooks and waterfalls wherever you go. It is a miracle that people and creatures have managed to survive here in this seemingly inhospitable place for more than a thousand years. You’ve got to be creative to do that.

But there is more to it than first meets the eye. This misty fairy land hidden out here in the North Atlantic holds many amazing surprises. If you travel just a bit deeper into it you will find narrow fjords and straits and soft sappy grass in bright green valleys complemented by cosy small villages by the seaside with closely-packed houses in all colours of the rainbow, where people live together in peace, feeling content and safe. The crime rate here is among the lowest in the world, the average life expectancy is among the highest in the world, and the birth rate (2.6 children) is the highest in all of Europe.

If you delve even further, you will discover that this nation – once so isolated – has moved to a new level. Today, highly educated Faroese people work all around the world – scientists, engineers and hundreds of sailors navigating heavy tankers and carriers across the five oceans. So even if other people might be unaware of the Faroes, the Faroese themselves are very aware of the outside world. So what advantages do we have in comparison with the outside world?

A Modern Society in the Middle of Everything

The Faroe Islands might seem remote and peripheral, but they are actually in the middle of everything – strategically located along important sea lanes in the north-eastern Atlantic right between the two richest continents on earth – only a one-hour flight away from the UK, Norway and Iceland and two hours from Copenhagen, Denmark.

We have other advantages as well. Today, the islands are fully up-to-date in terms of modern technology. Almost everyone is online, connected to the outside world by satellites and fibre-optic cables on the bottom of the ocean. Until recently, the only way to reach the remote villages and islands was either by small boats or by walking up and down steep mountains. Today the country is pierced with tunnels through mountains and under the sea, leaving 85 % of the people less than an hour away from each other. It is also worth mentioning that 45 % of the power consumption is generated by rainwater.

The Best Fish Products in the World

The waters around the Faroe Islands are said to be the cleanest in the world. The perfect mix of the warm Gulf Stream from the south and the Arctic waters from the north produce a paradise for marine flora and fauna around the Faroe Islands. Hungry fish stocks come in all sizes to graze and it is no coincidence that the Faroe Islands is a nation where fish accounts for more than 97% of the total export volume. Actually the Faroe Islands is one of the world’s leading nations in terms of sustainable fishery.

If we don’t find exploitable oil, fishery might very well still have a future as our strongest industry – especially if we focus on the right themes in our marketing: As an example – an English research paper concludes that if you eat fish you get smarter babies. Recently a scientific research project made here on the Faroes concluded that haddock caught in the ocean surrounding the Faroe Islands contains up to ten times as much folic acid and twice as much selenium as haddock caught in other parts of the world. Folic Acid and Selenium are very important – especially for pregnant women. Right now, a very interesting project is going on here on the Faroes where a special fish traceability system is being developed. The system will be launched next year. For us consumers it means that we will know exactly where and when and by whom the fish on our table was caught. All this should give our fish products a significant competitive advantage.

Heading Towards a Creative and Knowledge-Based Economy

Since late 19th century, when fishery replaced agriculture and wool as a driving force in the Faroese economy, almost all of our economy has been built on fishery and manufacturing fish products for export. And we have been successful in doing so. This historical fact is probably the reason why economic and political leaders in this country believe so strongly in building success on primary products and on manufacturing. I also do believe that it is important to maintain a viable fishing fleet and a strong manufacturing sector. But when we’re dealing with a globalised market where demands change every other day, this is not enough. I think the Faroese people and our economic and political leaders understand that it is vital to increase the diversity of our businesses and that we must also rely on a more creative and knowledge-based economy in the future.

Effective Communication Strategies are Crucial

I believe in the idea of looking toward the future with confidence yet with realism. In today’s extremely fast-changing world, it is essential to develop and apply strategies for staying on top of things. Using information and communication technology effectively can make virtually any project so much smoother, quicker and less expensive and what’s more, it will define the very nature of projects – you can’t afford to miss out on it. But technology alone won’t do the job. It’s people that shape technology and business processes and the human element remains the most important element. This is interesting because everything is about people and how we interact. And it is crucial that we use our human resources and the creative potential, we all possess, to the fullest.

Succes in Creative Businesses

We do have some success stories in creative business that have inspired others. I am referring to successful musicians like Teitur and Eivør – you may have heard of them – and fashion designers such as Guðrun & Guðrun – or the G!-festival which has been named as one of the best music venues in Europe today by several Music Magazines. Their success has been an eye-opener to the rest of us. Suddenly we see potential and possibilities which, before, we could only find in our dreams. I think we are only beginning to understand the impact that our ability to harness our own creative assets will have on our future.

Faroe Islands - a Melting Pot of Creativity

These are fascinating times. The Faroe Islands is a melting pot of creativity. Music, singing and songwriting, fashion & design, alternative music festivals and modern art play a very active role in daily life on the Faroes today. The Faroese are thought to have a special creative Viking gene, especially bearing in mind the modest population of around 50,000 inhabitants. From this creative gene pool the menu has it all: Traditional Faroese chain dance, choir music, folk music, jazz, blues, rock and punk. Almost every village has its own choir and/or up to several rock bands. The Faroe Islands Symphony Orchestra perform at least two concerts a year in the Nordic House of surprisingly high quality. A new generation of young musicians, artists and fashion designers is also taking on a new and different scene – or catwalk. With one foot rooted in tradition and the other in a creative sphere, they are taking the leap for international success. And they might just have a chance merely because of the fact that their inspiration comes from a life far away from trend-setting cosmopolitan lifestyles. It is just real. And you can feel it.


Did you know that the Faroe Islands…

•… are located north of Scotland between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Norway and Iceland - situated at approximately latitude 62° N, longitude 7° W

•… are an archipelago of 18 islands, of which 17 are inhabited. The islands extend 113 km from north to south and 75 km from east to west.

•… highest elevations reach nearly 890 m above sea level and are found in the northern islands. The precipitous terrain limits habitation to small coastal lowlands.

•… climate is greatly influenced by the warm Gulf Stream and by the passage of frequent cyclones, which arrive from the south and west depending on the position of the polar frontal zone. Consequently the climate is humid, unsettled and windy, with mild winters and cool summers. Mean temperatures are around 3-4°C in January and February and about 10-11°C in July and August.

•… have a land area of 1399 km2 (545.3 square miles).

•… have a population of 48,164 (December 2005).

•… capital is Tórshavn with a population of 19,282 (2004).

•... have their own language: Faroese is the national language, rooted in Old Norse. Nordic languages are understood by most Faroese, and English is also widely spoken.

•… religion is Evangelical Lutheran Church: 80% - Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren): 10%.

•… population is largely descended from Viking settlers who arrived in the 9th century. The islands have been connected politically to Denmark since the 14th century.

•… is a self-governing territory since 1948 within the Kingdom of Denmark.

•… Prime Minister is Jóannes Eidesgaard (since 3 February 2004).

•… cabinet (Landsstýri) is appointed by the Prime Minister.

•… Parliament (Løgting) is unicameral.

•… main industries are fishing, fish processing, ship building, construction and handicrafts.

•… labour force counts 24,760 (December 2005).

•… labour force by occupation is fishing, fish processing, and manufacturing (33%), construction and private services (33%) and public services (34%).

•… has a total export of DKK 3,579,300,000 (2005).

•… has a total imports of DKK 3,911,600,000 (2005).

•… GDP is DKK 9,699,000,000 (2003).

Do you want to know more?

If you would like to get to know the Faroe Islands, you can e.g. visit:

For more information on the Faroese business environment and Faroese trade and industry, please visit:

Read Mr Stephen Metcalf’s article in The New York Times about the Faroe Islands "Into the Mystical Unreal Reality of the Faroe Islands":

Here is an interesting broadcast about the Faroe Islands from PBS, mainly focusing on the killing of pilot whales, but covers a lot of other ground. The website is also a great introduction to various Faroese issues, such as music:

Read an article on the Faroe Islands on

One of the most exciting music events in the Faroe Islands is the annual music festival in Gøta, G! Festival. Below is the link to the official website:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Our strengths:

By Elin Heinesen, Managing Director of SamVit – Faroe Islands Enterprise.

Tourism is now the fastest-growing industry in the Faroe Islands. We therefore need to prepare to meet increasing demands. Our strategy is to build on our strengths and to focus on developing a lucrative tourism which at the same time is sustainable and does not affect our nature and culture in a negative way.

As part of a new political strategy the Faroese Government decided to merge the Trade Council and Tourist Board in the beginning of this year. This was done in the realisation of the fact that development of trade and tourism can depend on each other in many ways. This new organisation was named SamVit – Faroe Islands Enterprise, and in May they appointed me, Elin Heinesen, as managing director of the organisation.

Unspoiled Territory to Explore
What advantages do the Faroe Islands have as a travel destination? The fact that our country is a small archipelago in the middle of the big ocean in the periphery of western society makes us quite unique and special. Many consider islands in the ocean to be exotic and romantic by default. And being special means a lot these days where we see tourists looking more and more for special activities and cultural, adventurous or spectacular experiences rather than just lazing in the sun. It seems that people are starting to turn their eyes to the north rather than the south. Maybe it is because people feel safer travelling north than south these days. And since the northern countries have seen far less of mass tourism, there is more unspoiled territory to explore.

We Mustn’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water
So in a way, the Faroes sell themselves as a tourist destination, but since we have not really developed a real tourism industry yet, it is essential that we do our best to meet this ever-increasing demand. However, it is also very important that we emphasise sustainable tourism and avoid the negative impact of mass tourism. We must be very careful not to ‘loose our soul’ in our efforts to build a lucrative tourism industry, because it is our purity, authenticity and uniqueness that gives us a competitive advantage.

Tourism Creates Ground for Other Industries
In the Faroe Islands today we are very dependent on our export of fish products, but we cannot go on counting solely on fishery as a main source of income. The fishing industry can be very unreliable. World market prices vary a lot and right now we are experiencing that some species of fish, which have been important resources, are simply disappearing from the sea. The question whether it is because of global warming or something else remains to be answered.

Under any circumstances we really need to stimulate growth in other fields and develop other kinds of industries. Opening up the Faroe Islands as a tourist destination is one of our goals, because the tourist industry can lead to so much more and create grounds for other industries as well.

A New Course for the Tourism Industry
It is very important to organise and improve the services on offer in this country and try to inspire and develop ideas for more services. On the one hand we must develop new services and activities and, on the other hand, increase bed capacity, because demand is surpassing the amount of activities and accommodations on offer for visitors. The Faroese do not have a long tradition for a travel industry as such, so we need to make people in the Faroes more aware of the fact that they can earn a living from tourism. SamVit has set out to improve this and many other things that affect our international relations.

The Internet Plays a Vital Role
In order to achieve our goals, Internet marketing should play a vital role. People are no longer so dependent upon travel agencies to plan their trip; this can now be done in your own time on your computer screen by means of the Internet. And more and more people seek such information of their own accord. It is essential that we work more thoroughly on market segmentation and make relevant interactive functions available on the internet in our future marketing efforts. We are working right now on developing portals on the internet which will target both local networks in the Faroes and potential customers.

The Faroese travel industry needs to start thinking of the Internet as an integral part of their marketing strategy and show the world what they have to offer. At the moment, a wealth of information is out there in the middle of nowhere, but it should be in the middle of everything. That is why we’re already working on developing various new internet marketing strategies. In principle, a Faroese website carries the same weight on the internet as, for instance, an American one. Until recently, you were unlikely to find any material about the Faroes at your local travel agency. Today the Faroes, like everything else, are just a click away.

But to make people in the outside world aware of our websites we, of course, have to have effective strategies. This is a very small country and our budgets are equally small – so we must know how to get attention in a way that is not too costly. We have to rely heavily on editorial mentioning, so we work very hard to build up a contact network with journalists all over the world that might be interested in the Faroe Islands – and give them something to write home about.

Inspired by the Irish Model
As for strategies regarding the strengthening of tourism as an industry, the Irish tourism model has been a good source of inspiration for us. At the FlyFaroe 2007 convention this spring, travel writer Eoghan Corry spoke about the recent rise of Irish tourism. He explained how the primitive folk image of Ireland was turned into a strength. The Irish simply realised the potential of what they could offer and they soon started utilising these strengths. As an example, Irish folk music and dance, which once was heard and seen only in the country, are now lucrative global industries.

But what exactly did they do? In 1987, the Irish Government started an economic reform in which corporate taxes were reduced from 33% to 10%. This immediately attracted foreign investment, which in turn acted as a catalyst for Irish tourism. One consequence of this reform was that people started opening their homes to foreign travellers and making a business out of it. This led to a great increase in bed capacity in hotels and B&Bs, and tourist numbers started rocketing. The fact that people could get in contact with the local people in this way, along with the slightly primitive image the Irish projected, has led to a lucrative tourism industry, which now contributes greatly to the national economy.

Our Cultural Heritage as an Attraction
The Irish people themselves also received input from the visitors, so everyone was a winner. Expanding the range of B&Bs also proved essential in breathing new life into the smaller, peripheral villages. For many years, Irish tourism had seen mainly backpackers with limited travel budgets. In order to attract the more wealthy travellers, the tourist board set up campaigns aimed specifically at mature and wealthy people. By utilising their rich cultural heritage they managed to attract more differentiated demographics.

It seems obvious to me that the Faroes can benefit from doing this too. We share many of the Irish characteristics in this respect, and we can easily make this an industry where many local people can earn a living just like the Irish. So we are working on making an advertising campaign next year informing people about the benefits of housing tourists in their own homes. Simultaneously we’re trying to influence the political system so that these people will receive some tax incentives by doing so.

The Real Picture is Rough and Dramatic
For many years, a visit to the Faroe Islands meant peace and tranquillity, or at least that’s what the literature indicated with its sunny, peaceful and polished landscape pictures. But it seems that peace and tranquillity – or polished landscape pictures – are not always the best selling points in tourism marketing campaigns for the Faroe Islands. In fact, peace and tranquillity often equal boredom in many people’s eyes – probably precisely the people who really need peace and tranquillity the most – stressed-out people in big cities and metro poles. But they might not realise that – not until they experience in flesh and blood what peace and tranquillity really means. Peace and tranquillity is probably not the main reason why people want to come here. Most people seem more concerned by what there is to do while they’re here. They want a variety of activities to choose from.

And they don’t necessarily find the polished picture of the Faroe Islands attractive. The real picture is also, in fact, much more rough and dramatic. For example, when foreign photographers come here, the resulting pictures are typically of misty or stormy and rough landscapes. So why not make that the attraction. I think we have been promoting the wrong image of our country. No doubt about it, this is a beautiful country, and most of the people who come here know it. But that’s no longer enough. People need to know about the real Faroe Islands – and they don’t want to sit back and watch: they want to feel alive and vibrant. In other words, they want exciting experiences.

Sea Angling – an Exciting Activity on Offer
There are plenty of activities on offer for tourists, but SamVit and other players on the tourism field are working hard to introduce even more. For example, sea angling has become very popular of late. Local fishermen take tourists out on their boats and the tourists have the opportunity to taste the Faroese fisherman’s life and catch their own fish. Afterwards, they are offered a nice meal made from the fish they caught.

Halibut, porbeagle sharks, good-sized haddock... they're all here in the nutrient-rich waters of the Faroe Islands. UK's main fishing operator, Kings Angling Holidays is convinced and UK's largest Sea Angling magazine "Sea Angler" who visited the Faroe Islands in June has a clear view: As more and more skippers start to specialise in sport fishing and more anglers visit these wonderful islands, only then will the full sport fishing potential of this excellent destination be discovered.

Unforgettable Experiences on the Faroes
Some offers have existed for many years. Worth mentioning are the tours to the magnificent Vestmannabjørgini, that have been among the favourites with tourists for a long time. In a small boat, people sail past massive cliffs rising from the sea – an experience which few will ever forget.

Another classic excursion is the “concerto grotto”, where musicians and visitors go on a boat trip into one of the deep caves under the islands. Once inside, the music starts, and the natural sounds and unique acoustics of the caves are used as integral parts of the music.

But new offers are on their way. Sea angling is – as I said – about to become an established activity on offer, while many other activities are still just good ideas and need further development.

Extreme Tourism and Ecotourism on their Way
For some years now, some tourists have come to the Faroes to enjoy some of the more unusual niche activities, such as diving in sub-sea caves, but this has not yet developed into an established service on offer. A couple of months ago, Faroese TV interviewed some American surfers who had come to our islands to try our waves. They were amazed that no-one seemed to have noticed the potential for surfing on the islands. Other extreme sports such as rock climbing and base jumping are also possible offers we could develop. These activities are not yet part of the mainstream offers to visitors, but this is another area of interest to SamVit.

There are other specialised forms of tourism on the horizon. Ecotourism, for instance, lies close to our hearts. TIES, The International Ecotourism Society, defines ecotourism as, “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” Ecotourism is one of the fastest-growing forms of tourism today. With all the unspoiled scenery in Faroe Islands, and with tourist numbers increasing every year, it is of utmost importance that we do everything we can to prevent the negative effects of mass tourism. So ecotourism will be, and already is, a priority for Faroese tourism in the future.

All in all – we can expect a great increase in the number of tourists over the next few years, so we must prepare. That is exactly what we’re trying to do, and we’re very excited about it.

Get More Information here: