Hobbit-village planned for Stockholm island

An entire hobbit-like village will be built in the archipelago of Stockholm, on the island of Muskö, for people to live in just like the English author J.R.R. Tolkien's character Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings.

Hobbit-village planned for Stockholm island

“Living in a hobbit house is the smart and sustainable way to live in the future,” John Higson, the co-founder of the project told The Local.

In 2011 John Higson and Marie Eriksson co-founded Drömgården, a self-sustainable and eco-friendly farm and village, but the idea to build hobbit houses didn’t come until Higson heard about Simon Dale who’d built one for his family in Wales.

“Seeing Simon’s houses blew me away. They’re beautiful, unique and completely sustainable, and what a fantastic way to live,” John Higson told The Local.

Click here for a gallery of Simon Dale’s hobbit house in Wales

But it was not until Higson and his partner bought a plot of land inside the area of Drömgården, but a nice distance from the other buildings, that the idea was put into practice.

“I’ve always enjoyed living a little bit differently. The idea of just a hobbit style village came from talking to other people interested in being part of Drömgården,” Higson said.

Like Dale’s hobbit house which is located in a secluded part in Wales, the Swedish versions will be made with natural materials like straw, clay and timber, and erected on the edge of a forest overlooking some fields.

“Hardly anyone has been there in years as it was a restricted area site owned by the military. So nature has taken over and made it a perfect hobbit territory,” Higson said.

Apart from providing people with a sustainable way of life in the countryside, Drömgården allows people to become part owners of the already built cottages, circus wagons, the dairy, or in due time – the beer brewery and hobbit houses.

“Why pay for having a countryside house standing empty most of the year, when you can use your hard earned kronor for what you really need,” Higson said.

This allows people to own a small part of Drömgården but also to live there for whatever amount of time they want to, Higson explains.

The first house is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, and approximately fifteen more houses are currently planned under the supervision of Simon Dale, but the exact number is still undecided.

“People will be invited to join Simon Dale to plan their houses, but we’re debating as to whether it would be a good idea to build a pub first,” Higson said to The Local.

“You can’t have a hobbit village without a pub.”

Salomon Rogberg

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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.