The Geirangerfjord has been a tourist destination for 150 years and may be considered a national icon for the tourism industry. Together Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord are Norway’s signature landscape for marketing its scenic qualities abroad.
Internationally, the fjords may be considered one of the cradles of scenic tourism. The first foreign tourist ship sailed into Geirangerfjord as early as 1869, and since then the fjords have given millions of visitors tremendous thrills of scenic and cultural character. Norwegian fjords have kept alive and given legitimacy to the notion of preserving valuable scenery for the sake of its outstanding beauty and its natural and cultural value.
In summer, the need arose for horse-drawn transport, catering, overnight accommodation, mountain guiding and transport on the fjord with small boats. This provided valuable income for many people running marginal farms. Tourism soon became an important sideline for farmers by the fjords and, by degrees, the main job for many.
Power of attraction
The importance of the fjords as a goal for tourists quickly influenced the kind of buildings and other constructions that appeared. The overnight accommodation and the roads in the vicinity had an appreciable capacity for handling large numbers of visitors as early as the end of the 19th century. Despite considerable tourism for 150 years, the fjords have retained their original magical power of attraction, scenic beauty, character and qualities.