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Sweden tourism heads for new record year

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Sweden tourism heads for new record year
08:08 CEST+02:00
The number of foreign tourists visiting Sweden climbed 3 percent during the first four months of 2011, new statistics from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) show, prompting hopes of a new record year.

"We have had seven years in a row of all time highs. If this development continues we'll have an eighth record year," said Thomas Brühl at Visit Sweden - the Swedish tourist board.

Overnight stays by foreign tourists in hotels, chalets and hostels in Sweden increased by 3 percent during the first four months of 2011, in comparison to the corresponding period of 2010, the figures from the agency and Statistics Sweden (SCB) show.

Overnight stays climbed 17 percent in April.

According to Visit Sweden, which works to promote Sweden overseas, the large rise in April can be explained by investments in marketing Sweden abroad, with for example major advertising campaigns in key tourist countries.

A further explanation is that the ash cloud from the Eyafjallajökul volcano impacted air traffic last year, hitting tourism figures for the month.

The Chinese and Americans are two groups which have shown a greater interest in visiting Sweden, with tourist numbers up 30 and 13 percent respectively.

"The markets which fell the most when the crisis hit, and among those are included the USA and China, are those which have now recovered the most," said Thomas Brühl.

One of Sweden's most popular offbeat destinations - the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi - announced on Thursday that it plans to open its doors for the summer season for the first time.

The Ice Hotel plans to offer three suites made purely of ice contained in a warehouse, complete with columns, chandeliers and polar bear carvings.

Many of the hotel's visitors have expressed a wish for the hotel to remain open in the summer.

"We often have guests who are here for the summer and who look for the Ice Hotel and are left disappointed when they don't find anything," said press spokesperson Camilla Bondareva.

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