Committee seeks to attract pilgrims to Nordic Region

This is the opinion of the Nordic Council Committee for Knowledge and Culture, which convened for its summer meeting in Mariehamn on 26 June. The committee would like to see the Nordic Council of Ministers help to bolster co-operation between the Nordic pilgrimage routes and bring them together into a Nordic pilgrimage initiative. St. Olavsleden leading to Trondheim and the Saint Birgitta Ways leading to Vadstena are already popular pilgrim trails, and have the potential to become even more popular, the committee believes.

“It would be nice to be able to use these old trails which people have walked for centuries, even more so in the new age that we live in – both with regard to tourism and sustainability. The pilgrimage routes stretch both through time and space,” says Camilla Gunell, chair of the Committee for Knowledge and Culture.

Pilgrimage is a phenomenon that has grown in popularity internationally. For example, the number of pilgrims on the most famous routes to Santiago de Compostela through France, Spain and Portugal has increased manifold over the last decade. The Committee for Knowledge and Culture is of the opinion that the Nordic Region could raise its own profile as an exciting destination for pilgrims.

Nordic added value on many levels

Trondheim, Vadstena and Turku are key locations on the Nordic pilgrimage routes and there are organisations already working to advertise these trails. The Committee for Knowledge and Culture points out that several different sectors could benefit from closer co-operation with regard to the pilgrim trails. In that sense, it would benefit tourism, culture, history and theology alike.

In addition, the committee pointed out that long walks are also a good example of a new popular and sustainable phenomenon in tourism which is perfectly in line with the Nordic Council of Ministers’ strategic objectives for a socially sustainable, green and competitive Nordic Region.

Among the concrete proposals are joint marketing and a website for the Nordic pilgrim trails, as well as annual conferences and webinars to share the knowledge available in the respective Nordic countries.