Nine of ten tourists ‘happy’ with Sweden

Nearly 17 million foreign tourists visited Sweden in 2011, and almost all of them enjoyed their stay, according to a new report.

Nine of ten tourists 'happy' with Sweden

Ninety percent of the 16.7 million foreign tourists who came to Sweden last year were happy with their stay, according to a study presented on Wednesday by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket).

“By looking at what they do, how much money they spend, what kind of accommodation they choose, where they have been and so on, you can refine the product and market it right,” said the agency’s Therese Lindberg to Sveriges Radio (SR).

The study consists of over 20,000 interviews at Swedish border stations, conducted when visitors were leaving the country.

The study showed that the majority of visitors to Sweden come from neighbouring nations Norway, Denmark and Finland, which made up 61 percent of the total number of visitors.

Ten percent of visitors came from Germany and 80 percent of all those that came were returning visitors.

Out of the 14 million non-business related visits to Sweden, 40 percent stated that the purpose of their visit was for leisure purposes and 18 percent stated that it was the shopping that drew them to the country.

The study also showed that Norwegians are prone to visit western Sweden, Danes prefer the south and Finns like to frequent Northern Sweden and the Stockholm area.

The majority of the visitors, some 90 percent of all the study’s participants, were pleased with their stay. Least pleased were the Germans, of which 9 percent stated that they were not happy with their stay.

The study, however, did not account for why this was the case.

“We can look at what they did, where they stayed, what activities they took part in and so on. But we cannot draw any real conclusions from this general question about being pleased with their stay,” said Lindberg to SR.

Sweden’s major metropolitan areas proved the most popular destinations for foreign tourists, with Stockholm accounting for 35 percent of visits, while the area including Malmö and Sweden’s southern coast attracted 32 percent and the Gothenburg-centered region of western Sweden accounted for 25 percent of visits by foreign tourists.

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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.

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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.