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Wilderness, shopping and blondes shape Sweden's image abroad

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 22 Jul 2011, 14:18

Published: 22 Jul 2011 14:18 GMT+02:00

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"A typical view of Sweden still exists, but is starting to be replaced with the image of the modern and progressive way of life in Sweden," said said VisitSweden CEO Thomas Brühl in a statement.

Visit Sweden's survey involved 6,400 potential visitors from a slew of countries including Norway, Germany, France, Russia, the UK and the US, asking them to respond to the question - "What is the first thing you think about when you think of Sweden as a travel destination".

Among the replies are included the common themes of "snow", "peace and quiet", and "blond people". But in addition Sweden's variety of shopping and reasonable prices were also noted by some, along with "friendly people" and "chocolate".

Variations were great, and often contradictory, among the various nationalities responding to the survey.

Among Norwegians, Sweden is a budget shopping destination with 25 percent citing the good value on offer; the Brits meanwhile held the opposite view.

Several groups were in agreement that Sweden offers "life quality", "modernity", "forests", "lakes" and "space".

"That Sweden is so strongly associated with our nature also give us an opportunity to take a stand as a environmentally sustainable destination in the minds of travellers," Thomas Brühl said.

Other notable replies included "Greta Garbo", "mosquitoes" and "saunas".

Story continues below…

The survey showed that Sweden is still commonly mixed up with other countries, reflected in the fact that ten percent of French respondents associated Sweden with the "fjords" and six percent of Americans with "chocolate".

VisitSweden plans to use the results of the survey, which is conducted annually, to refine its marketing of Sweden as a brand and as a tourist destination.

VisitSweden is a communications company owned equally by the Swedish Government (via the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications) and the Swedish tourism industry.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:46 July 22, 2011 by Mb 65
But the last thing they think of Sweden is s--t that was expensive. The beautiful women are changing fast into overweight and tattooed.
17:59 July 22, 2011 by Alfred Nevada
I love the quintessentially blonde-haired, blue-eyed beautiful Swedish women. That is totally and completely awesome, and something that Sweden can be very proud of!

18:44 July 22, 2011 by Michael Whitfield
Not only the karlek svenska blondies, but a country that makes Maribou choklad

brews Pripps, builds Volvo & Saab, and Kalles kaviar has got it down right. But as one writer mentioned, the high prices, plus the Swedes pay high taxes. That is the price you pay for a high standard of living. But you cannot complain about the beautiful nature either!
19:02 July 22, 2011 by Scorch
@Mb 65

Nothing wrong with tattoos imo. Unless it's one of those tattoos where she first decided to get a tattoo and THEN decided what it would be.

@Michael Whitfield

Marabou is nothing compared to Milka =)
19:05 July 22, 2011 by Jasoncarter
haha - 'Chocolate'.

So people are STILL confusing Sweden with Switzerland then.
19:52 July 22, 2011 by ludfan
I live in the US and visit Sweden frequently, and when I tell people I am going, they always ask me to bring back chocolate, confusing sweden with switzerland.

I also used to assoicate Sweden with beautiful Blondes, but on my last few visits in 2005, 2006 and 2009, I noticed a major shift (from my first trip in 1987) to much more ethnic diversity, (speaking of Stockholm mainly). I can even see it in my pictures when I compare my 1987 pics to those of recent years, the crowds in the pics' backgrounds have changed a lot. I would venture to say 50% of Stockholm is "non-blonde", but don't have any factual statistics. Also the traffic has gotten much worse from 1987 days. It's easy to see changes and shifts when you don't live there.
22:49 July 22, 2011 by GLO
All of my friends in US think Sweden is the Swiss Mts, Choco, dont know where it is. I love the women, in recent years they are looking like hookers, dont like the INK. Sweden 8 years ago was awsome....... I agree many now getting FAT, sorry dont like all the Muslums.... Ask Norway how thats working out!!!!
06:56 July 23, 2011 by xexon
I think Abba did much to bust up the stereotype in the US that Sweden had nothing but blonde women. It was certainly unfair to all the ladies with darker hair.

When I was young, all I wanted was a Volvo full of platinum blondes.

Such are the ideas of youth.

08:50 July 23, 2011 by Already in use
I guess the Borg is the first that comes to my mind...
09:58 July 23, 2011 by 15U
and blond very shy men
10:37 July 23, 2011 by Rishonim
the fact that ten percent of French respondents associated Sweden with the "fjords" !Grenouilles!

@Glo, you are a peculiar Ignoramus!!!
10:37 July 23, 2011 by Streja
xexon, but only one member of Abba was blonde!
12:18 July 23, 2011 by gabeltoon
Good morning everyone : ) I tend to agree with GLO,many Americans know little about the world beyond their borders.Apart from that my first trip to SWEDEN was a few years ago and my fist impression was how clean the place was.I arrived in MALMO and spent a weekend camping around HOOR.The people were friendly and certainly blonde.I have since become addicted to the country,this is one way of getting to know more about the people and your way of life.I wish i could up sticks and move there.
13:21 July 23, 2011 by Rishonim

Great to know you feel the same as glo regarding his dislike for Muslims. What about 10% of French confusing the "fjords" with Sweden? would it be fair to say they also no little beyond their borders?

So what's holding you back from packing the boring live and risking it in Sweden? The dead end 9-5 middle management job? The local pub with your questionable character friends or would it be that little stumpy chubby better half you spend so much time with? Please do tell ;-)
15:35 July 23, 2011 by glamelixir
@Rishonim haha, you made me laugh. I live your style.

Btw, someone comment about Abba's fault for telling the world Swedish women were blond. I do not know which Abba you have seen, BUT the one I have seen had one blond (Agnetha) and one brunette (Frida). So that will give a 50% - 50% So nope, it was not Abba's fault.

I also encounter the stupid "oh bring chocolate" comment. What I generally do is buying a milka or toblerone at the airport to check their faces confronted to the label "made in SWITZERLAND" or I buy a Lakrits Marabu.... fantastic to see their reaction to liquorice. I follow that treat with a big smile an say "that is as swedish as a chocolate can get". =)
17:39 July 23, 2011 by Icarusty
Good quality porn
17:52 July 23, 2011 by hammad674
I am living in Sweden för almost 2 years now. And my perception about Sweden is that, A Nature loving nation with stunningly beautiful blonds girls (especially in northern part), Clean and Health conscious people. But to say that this nation is friendly will be little doubtful as unless you are proficient in Swedish language (Svenska) and convert your living style with Swedes, you will not receive any positive friendly behavior.
19:53 July 23, 2011 by PonceDeLeon
How was IKEA not a part of the equation? When I think of Sweden I think of Gourmet Falukorv..
00:22 July 24, 2011 by Michael Whitfield
@Mb 65

Milka is good too. But Maribou does make Dukat, an exceptionally nice chocolate. But not sold when it is particularly hot outside. Actually melts in your hand. One summer I brought back to the US several bars of Dukat from Maribou. It had turned liquid in my suitcase because it was so warm outside.

A few hours in the freezer resolved this issue. Also to some of the readers, Sweden does make good chocolate as well as Germany and Switzerland. The problem is that German and Swiss chocolate are more common in the stores.
01:58 July 24, 2011 by McChatter
Just goes to prove that Visit Sweden is doing a great job.

Down here on Österlen there are few blondes and even those are narrow-minded prudish bigots. But I enjoy the tranquility here.
10:34 July 24, 2011 by cogito
But they told us it was the royal family that attracts tourists to Sweden.
22:51 July 25, 2011 by Ivan Juric
I was in Sweden last year. I did find some of the Swedish women stunning but the ratio of good looking women was surprisingly low.
18:02 July 27, 2011 by tomas R

Yes. Sweden is the country where I would like to live. I was one time in Norway (Lillesand) in summer 2007. And I like it. And I have never been in Sweden. But I read some information about Sweden and interesting in it. I drive swedish SAAB 9000'95 and I am proud of it. I saw how swedish people worked in one automotive plant in Lithuania. I worked there.I talked a little bit with those people. It was very interesting.

What I could say about Sweden. It is a very nice country with forests, lakes and mountains. Of course my country (Lithuania) has very nice nature too. I could say that nature of Lithuania is almost like in Sweden. Maybe we have less mountains.

What about women. It is true that blondes are wonderful. The most beautiful women. Of course it is my opinion. My wife is blonde too. And we live together almost eight years.

Tomas (Lithuania)
18:18 July 29, 2011 by josh gura
thats just what sweden needs, some good old sex tourism. steal some of the market from thailand. also, it is interesting to note that "swedish woman" is supposed to mean blonde hair and blue eyes. i know many who are nothing of the sort. what does national borders have to do with beauty? i love how confused sweden can be... totally not racist while racist at the same time, totally equal for women but exploiting them at the same time as some sort of sex objects. its fun to poke fun at sweden because it takes itself too seriously.
04:04 July 31, 2011 by Icarusty
You can't have sex tourism in Sweden when prostitution is illegal!
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