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Record tourism to Sweden in 2006

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Record tourism to Sweden in 2006
© Richard Ryan/Thomas Saeys/Göran Assner, Imagebank Sweden
12:53 CEST+02:00
Increasing numbers of foreign tourists are choosing to holiday in Sweden - and they are spending more money than ever, according to new figures from Visit Sweden.

The number of 'guest nights' spent in the country in 2006 increased by 9 percent compared to the year before. While the most frequent visitors are from neighbouring countries, new budget airline routes mean that more and more Russian and Chinese tourists are coming.

Thomas Brühl, managing director of Visit Sweden, pointed to his own organisation's efforts as a key reason for the rise.

"The foreign tourists we're targeting with our marketing of Sweden are very interested in different and exotic experiences. Reporting on the internet, in newspapers and on television has proven to be an effective method of reaching these travellers," he said.

He also noted that "the product itself" is improving, partly due to Swedes' mastery of foreign tongues.

"You have to be able to speak Italian, Russian or Chinese if you're going to have tourists from there. We can do that," he said.

The most frequent visitors to Sweden come from Norway, Germany, Denmark, Holland and the UK. But the number of Russian, Spanish and Chinese holidaymakers is increasing rapidly.

Stockholm is still the most popular destination, with almost 3 million guest nights in 2006. The popularity of the Baltic island of Gotland growing fastest, with a 36 percent increase in guest nights. Norrbotten, with its ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, the northern lights and Sami culture, saw a 26 percent increase in its inbound tourism.

The country's rising popularity has also meant a surge in spending. In 2006 foreign tourists spent 75.4 billion kronor in Sweden, an increase of 20 percent on the previous year.

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