Denmark top destination for Swedish tourists

The most popular destination for Swedish tourists is not Thailand or London but close neighbour Denmark according to a new survey.

Denmark top destination for Swedish tourists

According to the survey, which was conducted by travel consulting company Resurs, Swedes love nothing more than a trip to the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

Travelling to Denmark has been made considerably easier with the opening of the Öresund Bridge which links the two countries. Since the bridge swung open in 2000 thousands cross the bridge daily often to buy alcohol as the Systembolaget does not exist in Denmark.

“Interest in going over the bridge in our spare time has increased quicker than we dared hope,” said Fredrik Jenfjord, sales manager of the Öresund bridge to the TT news agency.

The survey revealed that Swedes made an estimated 150,000 trips outside Swedish shores this summer which is an increase of 2.4 percent. In June, July and August some 6.3 million trips were made.

Along with Copenhagen, other popular cities for travel-hungry Swedes are the Swedish speaking Mariehamn territory in Åland in Finland, followed by London.

Indeed, the Nordic nations dominated the top of the most-visited list when ranked by country, with only Spain sneaking in toward the top of the list.

Turkey was the only country apart from the Nordic nations to have two locations featuring on the list. The warmer climes of Alanya and Side remain popular with Swedish tourists.

“We don’t travel so far away,” said Hans Remvig of Resurs, which own and run the Swedish travel and tourist database. Resurs has been conducting these type of surveys since 1989 where they interview 2,000 Swedish citizens each month about their travel habits.

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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.