The Relationship Between Scheduled Transport Operators and the Development of Tourism: a Case Study of Bornholm

The Relationship Between Scheduled Transport Operators and the Development of Tourism: a Case Study of Bornholm


D Robbins, Bournemouth University, UK



There is a clear relationship between the development of a tourism industry in a destination and the transport links between the main tourism generating areas, both international and domestic, and that destination. The confined environment of an island destination where the majority of visitors arrive by surface modes of transport highlights this interdependence.

The paper examines the problems for transport operators of providing transit services to island destinations. These are increased manifestly when the demand is heavily peaked as in the case of the ferry operator Bornholms Traffikken who carry 21% of all passengers in July.

Even within this seasonal peak period demand for travel remains uneven. Where the tradition of a 'change over' day on Saturdays still persists the problem of uneven demand is exacerbated with some spare capacity on weekdays but over demand at weekends. In common with other service industries transport as a product cannot be stored. It must be consumed at the point of production so once a scheduled departure has left with unoccupied seats, there is never a second opportunity to resell those unoccupied seats.

The research highlights how solutions have been sought by transport operators in isolation. A key objective for a transport manager is to match supply and demand and the greater the peaks of demand the more difficult this becomes. There are two fundamental approaches: i) Adjust supply by providing extra capacity sometimes at high marginal cost. ii) Influence demand patterns through pricing and other management mechanisms

Accommodation providers and tour operators can be significant contributors to this peak through their booking policies especially where accommodation can only be booked in 7 day blocks. This is particularly true of the self catering sector. Therefore joint initiatives and planning between accommodation providers / tour operators and transport operators can play a significant and mutually beneficial role. The constraints of transport capacity on peak Saturdays is leading to stagnation of visitor numbers to certain island destinations. A joint approach can improve load factors for the ferry operator throughout the week whilst creating additional scope for growth during the peak season. Joint strategies also hold the greatest potential for the development of a shoulder peak season.


The paper examines the specific case of Bornholm, a small Danish island destination in the Baltic where visitor numbers are static but the pattern of demand is heavily peaked and visitor arrivals by ferry are over 90% of total arrivals. The author has continued researching tourism demand to Bornholm since undertaking a month long study visit in 1996 and has revisited the island on several occasions.

The paper will review the policies of both the ferry operators accommodation providers over the last 8 years and their appropriate influences on the tourism industry. Primary data will incorporate structured interviews with the ferry operator, accommodation providers and the Tourist Board.

The paper identifies and reviews the policies transport operators and accommodation providers must develop to stimulate tourism growth. It compares and contrasts the performance of Bornholm with other island destinations. It identifies that co-ordination between transport and tourism providers takes on the greatest significance for destinations in a peripheral location.


Association for European Transport