Ecotourism according to Bengts B&B and Tyttbo forsfiske
We visited ecotourism entrepreneurs Karin Bengtsgård and Börje Tollvik, who have a B&B on their farm Bengts as well as other accommodation in Tyttbo. They offer fishing packages and nature excursions. We had a chat about entrepreneurship and sustainability, and were taken on a tour in the spring weather. Read Karin’s thoughts below and watch the video to find out more about what they do and offer.
What does your business look like?
We focus on offering stays and fishing packages in Nedre Dalälven. If we have any beds left over, we offer accommodation as weekly rentals or B&Bs. During the winter, we often rent to companies that are working in the area and want an alternative to hostels and hotels.
Do you target any special type of guest?
All guests are welcome, but if we’re going to sell a product, it has to be targeted at a group to which our interests and knowledge can be marketed in a serious and saleable perspective. Our main product is fishing packages aimed at people who are interested in catch-and-release fishing and travel to Sweden. From Poland, for example, this is a small but engaged percentage of the country’s four million fishing enthusiasts.
Do you have any tips on how to create a successful ecotourism business?
It’s all about long-term methodological work. You need to create products that can be sold and marketed. A big wallet improves your starting position. Remember that as a business owner, you are taxed on all your income – sales of coffee, accommodation, camping spots, and even fishing licenses – and you have to add buffers. Such products can be much cheaper or even free just around the corner. Check this out before you start investing time or money. You have to be able to offer added value, often in the form of packaging, accessibility and service.
What does sustainable mean for you, as business owners?
For us, sustainable enterprise is running a business that destroys as little of the environment as possible, and if we can do anything, we do it with knowledge and resources in mind, e.g. composting, recycling and choosing products with a low environmental impact. We decided on four-stroke engines, for example, when investing in our boats for fishing packages. We choose better products whenever budget allows, such as our decision to use linoleum floors instead of PVC-based floors during our current renovation. We’re not saints, but we do the best we can. What we believe has the greatest benefit is active communication with our guests concerning water and fishing issues.
What challenges do you face?
We’re getting older – that’s a challenge in itself. We have a longstanding stance on aquatic environment issues and work actively to highlight these issues, as our experience in both the Norwegian coastal community and the Dalälven area has given us breadth in our lifecycle perspective. We are deeply concerned about the environmental impact in the water that only accelerates and depletes life in and around the water, both fresh and salt. We are also against overconsumption and very critical of chemicals, plastic and everything else that has an adverse effect on different organisms.
What are your thoughts on sustainability for your business in the future?
I would love to see more initiatives like the LIFE Project, in which NeDa (The Nedre Dalälven Collaboration) and others are working with environmental issues concerning migrating fish. The project is really dealing with restoring spawning grounds and taking measures that have long-term environmental significance. Getting the rapids’ spawning grounds restored for the species hurt by hydropower throughout the area is something we can only argue in favor of. If more of the species in and around the river landscape die, the conditions for agriculture, forestry and tourism to live on become strongly limited. With our roots in the self-subsistent household, we have experienced the entire course of events from the beginning and see how different decisions accelerate the already far too-advanced species extinction, especially below the surface of the water.
Your family has lived on your farm since the 1700s. How does this affect your attitude towards your business?
It’s very personal for me. It raises my quality of life, but it is also a duty. 18th century ancestry is nothing special on a farm. My mother came from a farm dating back to the early 16th century – and then it starts to be remarkable.
What would you like your guests to get out of a visit with you?
That they got what they expected and hopefully even more. We never want to promise more than what the product can deliver. If it’s even better, that’s a plus. If it’s not, then we have disappointed customers.