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Official visit to Korea: Opening of seminar on tourism

Speech by HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit at the opening of a seminar on tourism in Seoul. Part of official visit to the Republic of Korea, May 2007.

Distinguished guests,
ladies and gentlemen,

Norwegians are becoming more and more interested in Korea, and with good reason. Korea offers a multitude of sights, and travellers can choose between stunning mountains, a beautiful coastline, exciting cities and striking historic and cultural monuments.

The Crown Prince and I are happy to be visiting your country. I am particularly fascinated by Korea’s ancient, religious culture and how it is integrated into an advanced, high-speed, high-tech society.

Today’s seminar focuses on Norway as a tourist destination.
The Crown Prince and I are in the fortunate position of being able to travel quite a lot in Norway, getting to know our country’s varied landscape and culture and meeting people in their own environments. I would like to describe to you some of what Norway has to offer.

In the north, you can explore the culture of the indigenous Sami people. If you are lucky and the sky is clear, you may even enjoy the Northern Lights – a natural phenomenon that appears at night, filling the sky with variety of colours that dance at an incredible speed. In summer, you can experience the Midnight Sun, which never drops below the horizon during June and July.

Just like Korea, Norway has a long and magnificent coastline. Along it, you will find thousands of inhabited islands, where you can spend a night in a small cabin in a tiny, charming fishing village. One of our most popular tourist attractions is a sea route called Hurtigruta. This is actually the old coastal post route, now transformed into a comfortable cruise for tourists and people who live

along the coast. Each year, around half a million visitors make this spectacular journey.

Norway’s west coast is dominated by majestic mountains and long, narrow inlets from the ocean, called fjords. Less than a year ago, two of our fjords – the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord – topped a National Geographic Traveller survey of UNESCO world heritage sites. One of the reasons for the area’s popularity is that people actually live there. That gives tourists more to do and experience than simply admire the stunning natural surroundings.

There are many opportunities for outdoor activities all over the country, whether you like walking, skiing, biking or more adventurous activities like hunting, climbing and river rafting.

Personally, I would like to highlight the southern part of the country – which offers a unique experience in summertime. I may be biased as I grew up there, but in my opinion there is nothing quite like going out in a boat on a warm summer day, and perhaps catching your dinner on a rod or hand line.

However, Norway offers much more than a beautiful natural landscape. Our cities have a vibrant cultural life, and are home to a wide variety of museums, galleries, concert halls and innovative restaurants. Nevertheless, the fact that about two-thirds of the land around Oslo is protected and designated as recreational, does say quite a lot.

I hope that my brief description and this seminar will give you a taste of what Norway has to offer, and will tempt the people of the Land of the Morning Calm to visit the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Welcome to Norway!


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