Norway salmon river cuts prices as wealthy foreign clients barred

The owner of one of Norway's best salmon-fishing rivers is finding that with well-heeled foreigners unable to come and fish this summer, Norwegians are trying to bargain him down.

“Of course they know that I'm in a special position, it's a buyers market you could say, but of course it's frustrating to not the price you normally would,” Knut Munthe Olsen, who owns the Årøy river, three hours drive north of Bergen, told The Local. 
Norwegian customers have so far succeeded in knocking as much as 25 percent off his normal price, he admitted. 
“To try and excuse them, many of them have already bought fishing for this season, so they say if they're going to buy some extra fishing, they need a better price,” he said.
“And also some of the Norwegian clients have also lost money from their businesses. One guy told me he had cancelled a lot of fishing and hunting, but not Åroy, so he's also bleeding economically.” 
More than half of Olsen's customers normally come from abroad, most of them from Scotland and England, but also from Germany and neighbouring Sweden and Finland. 
“There are all sort of people, some with titles, some with a lot of money in their account, some who save up money for their hobby,” he said. 
“I don't care what kind of people I have: I care about whether people can fish, and if they enjoy being at my place. I don't care about their bank account as long as they pay the invoice.
“It's rather expensive to fish in my river, but people think its value for money. I think I have 80-90 percent rebooking every year.” 
The Årøy river has been hosting well-heeled British anglers since 1840, and is known for being home to powerful fish which can way as much as 20kg.
With Norway last week extending its travel ban, Olsen is now in touch with British customers booked for July to cancel their bookings. 
“It's 50 percent of the clients who are missing,” he says. 
But he's looking ahead to June 15, when he thinks Norway's government “will probably” open the country up to tourists from other Nordic countries. 
“So that means I have more clients than just the Norwegians, and  then hopefully in August, we will open up to the rest of Europe”
One of the British groups who had booked fishing in July was now planning, perhaps optimistically, to come and fish in September, he said. 

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