News

“Why is our way of living ‘fake news’?”: Norwegian ‘time-free zone’ leader responds to media backlash

The leader of the Sommarøy ‘time-free zone’ project has hit back at media backlash over the alleged PR stunt that put the destination on the map.

Last week, an island lobbying to make itself a time-free zone was found out to be a PR stunt headed by Visit Norway and Innovation Norway, the country’s public tourism board. This prompted an apology by the director of Innovation Norway, Håkon Haugli, who promised that “we will not do such a thing again”.

The idea behind the TIME-FREE ZONE project, started by community member Kjell Ove Hveding, insisted that disregarding watches would make it easier for residents, especially students, employers and workers, to make the most of the precious months when the sun does not rise in the region through November to January.

Innovation Norway caught wind of the story and worked with the islanders to capitalise on the push for a time-free zone, with Hveding meeting with a Norwegian member of parliament on 13 June to hand over the locals’ signatures and to discuss the initiative, with cameras at the ready.

The project was then sent to media agencies around the world, garnering massive attention for the island; Innovation Norway celebrated the success by gloating that the “response has been exceptional”.

Hveding has defended the project, saying that it is entirely genuine:

“It is real. It isn’t ‘fake news’ … We told our story, and we have told it openly and honestly,” Hveding said.

“On Sommarøy, we have lived in a time-less way for generations, with fishermen and others who have used the weather, the light, and the tide as work hours. I grew up taking a siesta every day, and when Innovation Norway suggested we should focus on the clock and the time, I naturally said yes. In the middle of the night, we do everything from painting our houses and mowing our lawns to going on swims and boat trips, while the rest of Norway is sleeping. And there are a lot of children on Sommarøy who don’t have a strict bedtime during summer,” he said.

Hveding said covering a bridge with watches was his idea, and that he also encouraged other islanders – if they wanted to – to do the same as a personal decision to take their own time seriously.

However, Hveding did admit that VisitNorway had collaborated with agencies, produced videos, and sent out press releases to promote the project. He said that the criticism VisitNorway had received for not being upfront about its role in the project was valid. He also said he did not think the time-free zone would be formalised.

“We, the people of Sommarøy, have told the story of how we live, and of how we wish to take it even further. We wish to continue to tell our story, even if VisitNorway’s project has ended.”

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Tourism

Flavour of the Week: Small Group Touring Co.’s new recruit, Linkd Tourism secures Port of Seattle + MORE!

Flavour of the Week induces two things on a Friday: nostalgia over Craig David and a succession of travel professionals falling asleep at their desks.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Airbnb’s giant ‘Wienermobile’ is sure to satisfy your hot-dog-loving clients

by Christian Fleetwood

In what is a quintessential Friday story, Travel Weekly has delivered this ‘franktastic’ and ‘blunderful’ news for all your hot-dog-loving clients.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Indonesian airline bans inflight filming, reportedly threatens to sue influencer

A travel blogger may be facing defamation charges after making fun of a handwritten menu he was presented on a flight.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

WATCH: Airline passenger scrolls through movies with bare feet!

Due to his aversion to feet, toes and everything below the ankles, Travel Weekly’s editor passed this gross story down to our junior reporter to write.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

How will Instagram’s ‘likes’ trial affect travel marketers?

by Christian Fleetwood

Instagram has hidden the number of likes from posts in a bid to return to a content focus, but what does that mean for businesses using them as a tool to measure engagement? Read on to find out.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Agent wrap: Agents experience safari camp, Viking golden ticket winners + MORE

What better way to bring in the weekend than to trawl through all the latest agent offers and famil pictures? All that’s missing is a sneaky glass of wine.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Intrepid takes next step at Uluru for reconciliation

by Ali Coulton

Hot off the heels of news that tourists are flocking to the rock before a climbing ban comes into action, Intrepid has reiterated its stance on serving alcohol at the sacred site.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

STUDY: More Aussies want to travel overseas, but where do they want to go?

Want to wow your friends and colleagues by being able to rattle off the latest tourism statistics? This article should do the trick.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Hotel wrap: Raffles Singapore reopens arcade, Waldorf rebrand, new Aussie hotels + MORE

We apologise in advance for the record-breaking length of this week’s hotel wrap. Travel Weekly’s reporter would’ve made it even longer had we not locked him in the office storeroom.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

“You cannot ignore the magnitude of influence”: Agency boss’ Instagram warning

Don’t consider Instagram as a powerful force in the travel industry. Well, a prominent agency boss has warned you to think again.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

Airbnb host’s list of nightmare bathroom requests goes viral

Among the very specific and highly unrealistic requests was that “gentlemen” must remain seated for “both for number one and number two” and all signs of “passage” must be removed. Yikes.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

STUDY: 50 per cent of Aussies say ‘me time’ drives travel choices

Half of those surveyed in this study have confessed to travelling to be alone. We usually just take a long walk or read a book for some ‘me time’, but spending thousands of dollars on a holiday also works.

Share

CommentComments