Sweden’s Egypt travel warning unchanged

Sweden's foreign ministry has maintained its travel warning against Egypt in despite the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak late on Friday.

Sweden's Egypt travel warning unchanged

“We have not undertaken any decision yet. The country must become more stable first,” said Anders Jörle of the ministry’s press department.

As Swedish charter travel companies await a change in the ministry’s advisory, Thomson of the UK has already resumed flying tourists to the Red Sea.

Swedes involved in the Egyptian tourism industry have been hard-hit by the warning.

“We had 100 employees, but have now laid off a large portion of the staff,” said Niklas Funk, who runs diving company Colona Divers and has resided in Egypt for many years.

The 60 Egyptians who worked for the company are receiving severance payments until the money runs out.

“Many of them have children and families who need food, so we will try to support them for as long as we can,” said Funk.

He hopes that the situation will stabilise so that the Swedish foreign ministry will lift its advice against travel to the country.

“The tourist industry has basically come to a halt. Within two days, 1 million tourists left the country. The only people left now are the English and the Germans. No one feels that it is in any way unsafe to live there. Everything is as usual, but with a lot fewer people,” said Funk.

However, Sweden’s foreign ministry will continue to keep a eye on the country’s developments before it decides to lift its advisory.

Both Ving and Apollo have provisionally scheduled for departures to resume to Egypt on May 2nd. The companies will likely keep the date in place even if the foreign ministry rescinds its Egypt warning soon.

“It is for the sake of our own planning. We have arranged flights to the Canary Islands instead,” said Kajsa Moström, communications director at Apollo.

Swedish tour operator Fritidsresor will discuss whether and when to resume travel to Egypt this week.

However, Thomson of the UK, which along with Fritidsresor and Star Tour are subsidiaries of German tour operator TUI, has fully resumed operations at all destinations on the Red Sea.

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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.