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Destination Røros – award winning Sustainable Destination

  • Published on June 29, 2016
Destination Røros is an early adopter of sustainable tourism. It has been involved in setting the course for holistic thinking in Norwegian tourism. For the 3700 inhabitants World Heritage mining town Røros, sustainability is about protecting nature, culture and the environment while strengthening social values and ensuring economic viability. Through a holistic system, that evaluates, trains, and develops the destination and its members, Destination Røros continues to implement best practices within sustainable tourism. Destination Røros works with over 180 member organisations in order to encourage the cooperation of tourism and its development throughout the region in a sustainable manner. It has won global sustainable tourism awards such as Responsible Tourism Awards and the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Additionally, Røros has reached the National Geograpic World Legacy Awards Final.
The objective of the sustainable tourism destination development was to create value through increasing the attractiveness of the World Heritage Site Røros Mining Town and The Circumference in sustainable manner. Destination Røros and the local businesses faced severe financial difficulties in 2006. In 2007, Destination Røros elected a new board, which launched a new strategy focusing on the World Heritage and Sustainable tourism. The World Heritage status was seen as the most important asset in order to differentiate Røros in relation to other destinations. Sustainable tourism development was perceived to be fundamental for conserving the cultural heritage and natural surroundings as well as ensuring profitable business.

In 2009, Destination Røros was granted funds as the national pilot for sustainable tourism by Innovation Norway. The Røros pilot project was based on a partnership in the local community, with interaction with Røros borough council, Røros Museum, local food producers, tourism industry and many other business sectors, as well as interaction with other boroughs in the region. During the pilot project, Røros invested in environmental improvements, local food and sustainable value creation. The holistic development approach is based on The World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) definition of sustainable tourism. In 2013, the municipality of Røros was one of the first four locations certified as a Sustainable Destination by Innovation Norway.

Today Destination Røros works with around 180 member organisations in order to encourage the cooperation and coordination of tourism and its development throughout the region in a sustainable manner. Destination Røros has adopted a forward-looking sustainability policy, and actively encourages companies to go through an environmental certification process. The companies may freely choose the certification that best suits their needs. Additionally, Destination Røros communicates the sustainability efforts, for instance in its promotional materials, and encourages visitors to act in a sustainable manner. Success factors

In 2013, Røros received the prestigious Sustainable Destinations certificate, a quality label awarded by Innovation Norway to destinations that work systematically to reduce the environmental impact of tourism while maintaining a high-quality experience for visitors, as well as preserving the destination's history, character and nature.

Destination Røros is the only Norwegian destination that has reached the final of the three most prestigious sustainability awards in the world.
• In 2011, Destination Røros was awarded «Best Destination» in the Responsible Tourism Awards organised by
• In 2012, Destination Røros won in the category «Destination Stewardship» in the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards
• In 2016, Destination Røros was one out of 3 finalists nominated in the category Destination Leadership in the National Geographic World Legacy Awards

Røros is often used for training purposes by other Norwegian and foreign destinations engaged in similar development.

The common strategy and holistic approach towards sustainability that were adopted in 2007 by Destination Røros, the surrounding municipalities and the private business sector, has been the key success factor. Working together instead of competing with each other has resulted in strong international growth and profitable business.

Notably, the personal passion for sustainable tourism development by Sustainable Destination development responsible person, Hilde Bergebakken, has been invaluable for the success.


Destination Røros is an early adopter of sustainable tourism, and has been involved in setting the course for this holistic thinking in Norwegian tourism. As a national pilot project, Destination Røros helped Innovation Norway to develop a certification scheme for sustainable tourism at the destination level. Innovation Norway has won international recognition for the certification scheme. Røros was among the very first to receive the Sustainable Destination certificate after an overall focus on social, cultural, environmental and financial factors.

Destination Røros has developed its own Certification Program called “Knowledge to be a good host”, through which participants become “Certified Hosts”. All employees in tourism, commerce and government take a course on local culture and history. This way both the local community as a whole and employees as individuals can take pride in their own history and at the same time be able to inform and educate visitors. Furthermore, employees also undergo training on the other local businesses and learn about the diversity in the region. The target of the training program is to be able to sell each other’s products and services, and thereby for example extend the number of guest nights in the region per visitor, ensure that businesses, employees and the local community knows what sustainable tourism is.

In addition to taking the program’s courses, each participant has to fill out a given “Copper Card”. The Copper Card contains 5 guided tours and attractions the participant has to participate in to become a “Certified Host”. The Copper Card is an insurance that all the hosts have first-hand experience of a number of the activities and attractions Røros offers. 150 companies have so far participated in the certification program, educating over 500 employees.

Destination Røros also offers local food courses in order to train local food guides. This has resulted in a local food safari, a bookable product for visitors.

Sustainability Impacts

Destination Røros offers visitors authentic cultural experiences, which are based on the world heritage, local food culture and many cultural events. The region has two national parks and several protected areas. Active dairy farming can be experienced by visitors along with local food safaris. Among other things, the local food industry has grown from less than 30 people to over 100 people working directly with local food production. Røros has been declared Norway’s Culture Municipality for three consecutive years, and is often referred to as Norway’s local food capital.

Destination Røros and its 180 members have adopted a common sustainability policy. The policy recommends companies to apply for an environmental certification. So far, 10 of the Destination Røros member companies have been certified, and many others have started the certification process. The certified companies represent approximately 60% of the total sales volume. Of all the member companies, 52% report having
made energy saving measures.

Since the launch of the new strategy in 2007, Destination Røros has managed to turn a deficit into positive numbers. The successful work towards common goals is directly reflected in the member companies’ profit margins. Today around 1 million tourists visit the World Heritage mining town Røros annually. Destination Røros is also actively participating in product development, such as local food safaris, which has led to increased value for visitors and businesses alike.

Challenges and potential for further development

Despite success, Destination Røros is facing difficulties to find sufficient financial resources for sustainability development since the pilot project with Innovation Norway ended.

Another challenge is related to companies who are not members of Destination Røros. Even though over 90% of the companies of the Røros area are members of Destination Røros, there are still some free riders. Destination Røros has worked on the issue, mainly through emphasizing the importance of cooperation for mutual benefits.

While there is potential for improvement related to the sustainability of transportation to and within the destination, the possibilities of Destination Røros to influence the transportation choices visitors make remains a challenge. Sustainable Destinations certificate by Innovation Norway needs to be renewed every three years. Destination Røros is currently (spring 2016) undergoing the recertification process.

The strategy of Destination Røros is to constantly improve the sustainability of the destination and innovate new sustainable products, such as related to ecological food. Additionally, the goal is to encourage even more companies to apply for an environmental certificate and to train more people.

Contact persons for more information:
Linda Ramberg, Destination Director,
Hilde Bergebakken, former Sustainable Development Manager,

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