Famed boat hostel returns to Stockholm

With salutes, speeches, and former deck hands as guests of honour, the af Chapman ship finally returned to Skeppsholmen harbour in Stockholm on Wednesday.

Famed boat hostel returns to Stockholm

Fully rigged, the boat was towed this week from Muskö in the Stockholm archipelago where she has been under renovation since October 2006.

Earlier on Wednesday, the af Chapman paused nearby at Stadsgårdskajen on the banks of Södermalm for a press conference held on her newly polished deck.

Moments later the boat was towed across the water to Skeppsholmen, where she will once again serve as a youth hostel.

Twin brothers Gunnar and Åke Fagerlind were deck hands on the ship in the 1930s, and were among some of the guests of honour.

“It wasn’t a playground, but it was a fun time,” said 88-year-old Gunnar.

“Now we are extraordinarily proud to be part of this voyage, out of pure snootiness, if I may say so. We were already on board at Muskö yesterday,” he added.

The honoured guests even delivered a few knots tied in the shape of key chains to Stockholm’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and Sport Madeleine Sjöstedt, who gave a speech to mark the occasion.

The total cost of the af Chapman renovation came to about 100 million kronor ($16.7 million).

Old photos have been dug out of storage, and although many fittings of the ship have been exchanged, and the guest quarters thoroughly cleaned, the work was done in a way that maintains the feeling of an old, fully-rigged ship, emphasized representatives from the city of Stockholm.


Sweden launches bid to become world’s top tourism destination by 2030

Forget the pyramids, the canals of Venice or the Eiffel Tower – the Swedish government has presented a plan to make Sweden the world's most attractive tourism destination by 2030 – but it's not yet clear how.

Sweden launches bid to become world's top tourism destination by 2030
Many tourists are attracted to Sweden because of its nature. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

In a press conference on Monday, Sweden’s Minister for Business, Industry and Innovation Ibrahim Baylan outlined the new strategy, which aims to make Sweden “the world’s most sustainable and attractive tourism destination built on innovation” by 2030.

Baylan referred to Sweden as a country which “is usually ranked as one of the world’s most innovative countries”, which he argued can “create value for the tourism industry”.

According to Baylan, the strategy builds on “sustainability’s three dimensions – it has to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable”. The strategy will also “tie into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030”, he said.

Topics covered by the new tourism strategy include the climate impact of tourism, equality and inclusion in the tourism industry and the importance of preserving shared resources such as national parks and sustainable nature tourism such as fishing and hunting.

The press release highlights the importance of natural tourism, explaining that the pandemic has led to people visiting natural and cultural environments “to a greater extent than before”, increasing wear and tear to natural areas.

DISCOVER SWEDEN: The Local’s guide to Sweden’s top destinations and hidden gems

Tourism is an important industry for Sweden, providing employment in both urban and rural areas, as well as generating wealth – before the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry represented on average 2.7 percent of Sweden’s GDP per year. The tourism industry also employs a high amount of people from foreign backgrounds – making up over a third (34 percent) of all employees in the industry.

During the pandemic, overnight stays declined in almost every Swedish municipality, with the biggest declines seen in Sweden’s larger cities and border municipalitites.

The government’s plans also include a focus on jobs and skill development, so that workers have the right qualifications for the industry – this reflects issues currently faced by the restaurant and hotel industry in finding skilled workers in the wake of the pandemic. 

There are currently no details as to how the government will achieve this strategy, or indeed how it will measure success. But Sweden is aiming high if it wants to be the world’s most attractive tourist destination by 2030. In 2019, it was ranked the 54th top tourist destination in the world by the UN World Tourism Organisation.