“When people sit down at the dinner table across Europe to decide where they’ll go for their holiday, the image of Sweden is important in their decision-making,” said Visit Sweden CEO Thomas Brühl in a statement.
“The tourists who took part in our survey who had not visited yet said they relied on what they’d heard about Sweden from friends, the newspaper, TV, radio and social media,” he added.
“A lot of countries are fighting for tourists’ attention.”
Norwegians in particular, but also Danish and Russian tourists, said Sweden offered them good value for money, while Americans, Brits and also several Russians said they were interested in Swedish gastronomy.
Germans, in contrast, were mostly interested in the great outdoors. More than 70 percent of German respondents to the survey of 16,000 people said they rated Swedish nature highly. The Spanish and the Danes also said nature was an important aspect of them choosing Sweden as a holiday destination.
Scandinavians were also likely to appreciate the proximity to Sweden, where they said they appreciated the bigger Swedish town’s nightlife and restaurants. Norwegians, Finns and Danes also said Sweden offered good shopping.
Among survey respondents who were not interested in visiting Sweden, however, many said they had been scared off by Sweden being expensive, while the bad weather was also cited as a deal breaker – which German no-sayers had particularly fervent dislike of, noted Visit Sweden.
CEO Thomas Brühl said the survey had targeted respondents with a solid disposable income.
“They are less affected by recession than the average traveller,” Brühl said.
“But of course Sweden as a destination is not left unaffected by currency exchanges and tough financial times in Sweden, but we (at Visit Sweden) have to plough ahead in our work to raise Sweden’s profile.”
The tourism agency said that international visits to Sweden had increased at a higher rate in Sweden than compared to Europe at large since the 1990s.
Figures from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) state that global visitors had spent 98.8 billion kronor ($15 billion) in Sweden in the year 2011, which amounted to more than the Swedish steel and iron exports at 68.4 billion kronor.