Strömstad named Sweden’s top tourist spot

Strömstad in western Sweden has been named as Sweden's primary tourist municipality for the third consecutive year, a new annual report by The Swedish Retail Institute (Handelns utredningsinstitut - HUI) shows.

Strömstad named Sweden's top tourist spot

HUI’s report defines best as generating the highest revenue from visitors and it is in Strömstad that foreign visitors spend the most.

The report explains Strömstad’s continued dominance in its location near the sea and its proximity to Norway.

Winter sport destination Åre in Jämtland came in second place and Tanum, just south of Strömstad on the west coast, came in third.

The report has mapped the industry across Sweden and concluded that Sweden remains “in many ways an unknown and unexploited tourist country” and argued that a continued positive development requires investment in new and existing attractions.

HUI forecasted that improved communications to and from Sweden, and continued successful marketing, will create a further 60,000 annual employment opportunities by 2010.

The report has been written on commission from the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel) and the Swedish Hotel and Restaurant Association (Sveriges Hotell- och Restaurangföretagare).

The industry reported a turnover of 252 billion kronor ($38 billion) in 2009 and employed 160,000 people on an annual basis, according to the tourism sector organisation Svensk turism.

The other municipalities on the report’s list of top ten tourist destinations are: Malung-Sälen, Härjedalen, Älvdalen, Stockholm, Eda, Sotenäs and Arjeplog.

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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.