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Sweden urges tourists to 'Visit a Swede'

9 Nov 2012, 15:30

Published: 09 Nov 2012 15:30 GMT+01:00

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Imagine coming to Sweden and only seeing the culture from a distance, and leaving without ever having actually met a Swede.

This is exactly what Visit Sweden, the team behind the award-winning Curators of Sweden Twitter account, wants to avoid – prompting them to launch "Visit a Swede" – a stepping stone in giving foreigners the “full experience” in the Nordic nation.

“We’ve targeted the international visitor here, this is their chance to be immersed in the Swedish society,” Maria Ziv, the director of marketing at Visit Sweden, tells The Local.

“They’ve listened and interacted online with our Twitter curators and this is our attempt to connect people when they’re actually in the country.”

The programme, launched just a few weeks ago, works hand-in-hand with local directories, as well as couchsurfing.org and Facebook to find events and to allow foreigners the chance to quite literally visit a Swede.

A user can log in to the official website and select an activity, be it finding a bed for the night, a companion for dinner, or even someone with whom to share a coffee in a local Swedish café.

Over 10,000 Swedes have already signed up to be hosts.

However, Visit a Swede isn’t only for tourists, with Ziv explaining that the expat community in Sweden should also look upon the initiative as a way to expand their horizons and add some Swedish telephone numbers to their contact lists.

“The problem when you’re an expat is you can become secluded, or can end up with only people from your own country,” Ziv says.

“If you feel you have another interest it can be hard sometimes to join teams, but this is an excellent stepping stone into hanging out without it being awkward.”

Furthermore, Ziv explains that the programme may help shatter the myth that Swedes can be cold or unwelcoming.

“Swedes are charming,” Ziv adds with a laugh.

“I’m not sure we are so cold. We have a thing where we don’t want to impose, but when we start talking we’re more than willing to share. Swedes can be a bit like ‘I don’t want to disturb or ask private questions’, but that won’t be the case here.”

As it’s already apparent that tourists are interested in the country, Ziv explains that Swedish hosts are given a free reign to put the country and its customs on show.

She hopes that Swedes will be more willing to open up with foreigners they meet through the Visit a Swede programme.

"The Swedes won’t feel they’re bombarding a poor tourist," she explains.

“And when Swedish people pass that barrier, their pride will start to show."

Similar to the @sweden programme, which has been dubbed the world’s "most democratic" Twitter account, Visit a Swede is a long-term initiative, and Visit Sweden is in no rush to push it on the public.

"It’s about respecting the target audience," says Ziv.

Story continues below…

"It’s not a campaign; we've made a commitment and we want to build it up. It works in the same philosophy as the curators - we’re providing the tool to let others make things happen.”

And with a peer-based review system, users can choose both who they want to meet and what they want to do in making a cultural connection with a Swede – opening the door to limitless opportunities.

“People can get really creative with it and we’ll see where that goes. It’s fascinating to think it’s not just based on what we define,” Ziv explains.

“Some people want coffee, sport, a walk...we have no idea, and that’s part of the charm.”

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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Your comments about this article

18:21 November 9, 2012 by viking87
... or in other words : free dating oppurtunities for foreigners. It's like inviting aliens to colonize and absorb the swedish society even more faster, thus assymilating the great swedish culture.
18:49 November 9, 2012 by dizzymoe33
It sounds like an interesting idea.
21:40 November 9, 2012 by skatty
I think there is some problem with Ziv explanation about Swedes, the correct one by considering Ziv is:

"I'm sure we are cold. We have many things to impose, and when we start talking we know that we are drunk. Swedes can be a bit like 'I don't want to be disturbed or to be questioned at all', and that is the case in here."
22:07 November 9, 2012 by Just_Kidding
The lady in the advertisement is taken. There will be a long waiting list for meeting a real Swede and only young American ladies will get to meet a Swede, which will happen to be an old Swedish guy (and maybe his angry feminist wife). If you are from the unpopular parts of the world, probably you will be picked up by a Swedish farmer who needs a hand to help him fix a leaky roof or clean a horse stable.
23:40 November 9, 2012 by jack sprat
So what's a real Swede as opposed to what,...an artificial one ?

Maybe I've been meeting stuffed dummies for all of these years.

I kinda thought they didn't have very much life in them.
01:18 November 10, 2012 by Rogerenden
Sounds interesting.

I'll try it some day.

In the meantime you can use your time to critizise this, though :o)

"... or in other words : free dating oppurtunities for foreigners. It's like inviting aliens to colonize and absorb the swedish society even more faster, thus assymilating the great swedish culture."


That's exactly what I'm planning! Not ;)
05:09 November 10, 2012 by rebelart.se
sounds like sex looks like sex it is bloody sex.....

get your condoms...all aboard
10:58 November 10, 2012 by byke
I believe this has already been tried before and failed.

Julian Assange attended a similar set up, only to find himself as part of criminal investigation without charges still yet to be made.
23:28 November 10, 2012 by snowmagician
If anyone is coming to Sweden with hopes of seeing endless platinum blond women in bikinis, he should brace himself for a major disappointment because more than half of native Swedes are dirty blondes, brunettes, black haired.
12:26 November 11, 2012 by terriergirl

Why would anyone be disappointed by dirty blondes?

Surely, the dirtier the better?
18:25 November 11, 2012 by rise

"So what's a real Swede as opposed to what,...an artificial one ?"

An artificial Swede also goes by the name "nysvensk" (new-Swede). It is as PC as it is ridiculous.
23:29 November 11, 2012 by trumanshow
how ever much you try and sell Sweden as the country of the friendly, peace loving woodsmen with the very pretty girls, its still bloody cold and bloody expensive....and no fjords.
23:56 November 11, 2012 by philster61
Swedes are as much charming as the Germans are humorous.....
11:48 November 12, 2012 by EP
I'd visit a Swede but given that they are not generally inviting then how is that possible? Good friend of mine, Swede, known him for 5 years. He's been over countless amount of times to my flat, and not once has he invited me ... nice! Neither have the neighbours, although if I recall there is a get to know your neighbour campaign. All these campaigns will give the "shy" swedes a heart-attack or some additional social phobia :-)
15:37 November 12, 2012 by mibrooks27
snowmagician _ Yes I spend every minute of every day bemoaning the fact that the the most beautifl women on the plant are often, at for it...., brunettes. Give me a break! If you don't like being sourrounded by beautiful, intelligent, independent, women, might I suggest a visit to the US or UK? The contrast you see you booking an early return flight.
19:09 November 12, 2012 by skatty

You should say both:

get a pack of condom and a pack of "Lawyers" (you need a lawyer in the case of a leakage on the condom).
23:11 November 12, 2012 by snowmagician
terriergirl - hahaha :)

mibrooks27 - I have had some trouble understanding what you wrote, but that is ok no worries :)
01:32 November 13, 2012 by philster61
Swedes are charming? Then the Germans are humorous...
02:58 November 13, 2012 by snowmagician
The teenage girl at top of this page appears to be a typical Eastern European girl.
09:50 November 13, 2012 by prince T
swedes are shy and laid back. not usually the first to make contact. however once the contact is made they become loyal.

swedes try their best to make visitors welcomed in their community. they bring pie and so to you. of course there are places they will throw eggs at your windows and cars

they only down side is that some can be so welcoming the a man can be sleeping with the wife in the bedroom and the husband watching tv. that is how nice and welcoming it can be.

14:42 November 16, 2012 by Rogerenden
To all the "bring a condom guys":

This couchsurfing thing works without any sex in most cases. + if you look bad you won't have sex. Some people (yeah, hard to believe for some people here) just want some company/meet new people sometimes.
07:48 November 17, 2012 by Icarusty
18:21 November 9, 2012 by viking87

Or be assimilated by the "great" swedish "culture" themselves. Maybe you should blame your own menfolk for carrying out such practices i.e. mail order brides from cultures who have a longer, more distinct heritage than the Swedes do.
14:07 November 28, 2012 by oddsock
"swedes are shy and laid back. not usually the first to make contact. however once the contact is made they become loyal. "

No they don't, once they realise they are making a new friend they freak out and become vague again.
21:35 November 30, 2012 by theobserver
A real Swede is someone who turns his head elsewhere when you say good morning to him/her. A real Swede is someone who will provide no information even when asked. A real Swede is someone who will accept invitations for dinner but will never invite anyone. A real Swede is someone who will bring his/her own bottle of wine and will not share it. A real Swede is someone who will never leave a tip. A real Swede is someone who thinks that ugly buildings are beautiful. A real Swede is someone who does not know what tasty food means. A real Swede is someone who will consume more candy than anyone else in the world. A real Swede is someone who finds it normal to sit in a dirty cafe. A real Swede is someone who thinks that machines will solve the world's problems. A real Swede is someone who only reads tabloids. A real Swede is someone who thinks that the state will take care of everything. A real Swede is someone who will not help you when in need.
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