“In relation to the Swedish economy as a whole tourism stands tall, even if the increase is not as high as previously,” said Peter Terpsta at Tillväxtverket.
Swedish tourism is also outpacing the sector globally, which expanded by four percent in 2012. The domestic tourism sector added six percent more jobs and now employs some 168,000 people.
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Figures for the third quarter indicated that for the first time tourism’s export value – the amount of revenue spent by foreign tourists in Sweden, was higher than import value – the amount spent by Swedes overseas.
Swedish spending overseas was however four percent higher over the whole of 2012, down from 70 percent some 20 years ago.
“We are more than 9.5 million people in this country and we are already world champion travellers – but out there are billions who have not even begun to travel and who we have the chance to attract,” Terpsta said to Sveriges Radio (SR).
The agency revealed however that competition is getting tougher for the tourist dollar with much of the challenge coming from other Nordic countries.
Peter Terpsta explained to SR that the key to meeting the challenge is for companies to join forces and pool marketing resources to attract global visitors.
While they are the competition, the other Nordic countries are also the main source of tourist income for Sweden with 55 percent of foreign tourists coming from Denmark, Norway and Finland.
Germany accounts for 12 percent of visitors and the largest non-European contingent comes from the US with 500,000 visitors per annum.
Stockholm is becoming increasingly popular, with 6.7 million visitors according to the agency’s figures, while southern Sweden declined somewhat during 2012.
The 2012 survey contained a new question concerning what visitors most associated when they thought about Sweden. Some 55 percent responded nature. Other answers included sustainability, health lifestyle and freedom.