Hotels fail to cash in on Swedish tourism boom

Cheaper prices have made it harder for Swedish hotels to profit on a recent the tourism boom, with six percent more rooms sold in the first four months of the year compared to the same period in 2014.

Hotels fail to cash in on Swedish tourism boom
The Swedish tourism industry is booming. Photo: Ulf Lundin/

Meanwhile, the number of nights spent by travellers in hotels across Sweden in January-April rose by eight percent compared to the same period last year, according to industry organization Visita.

“Sweden is becoming increasingly attractive as a tourist country. And lately the weak krona has made it cheaper to stay the night in Sweden,” Visita chief economist Björn Arnek told newswire TT.

The number of leisure travellers, as opposed to business customers, rose by 13 percent, which corresponds to 250,000 more occupied rooms.

READ MORE: The Local's ultimate guide to travel in Sweden

But the hotels have so far struggled to cash in on Sweden's tourism boom.

Leisure travellers more often take advantage of special deals and offers, which means total revenue has not risen at the same speed as demand for hotel rooms.

On the whole in the country, revenue per hotel room only rose by five percent in the first four months of the year, compared to 2014.

In the Stockholm and Gothenburg regions it decreased by 0.4 percent. Sweden's third biggest city, Malmö, saw a small rise of 1.4 percent.

“It's a tough market when business travelling decreases. The hotels then work with various offers,” said Arnek.

READ MORE: What the weak krona means for you

Despite the Nordic nation tumbling in recent international tourism rankings, it is expected to continue to attract foreign tourists this year, who are hoping to spend their pounds, euros and dollars in the country's hotels, restaurants and shops.

A forecast by Visita earlier this year predicted that the number of overnight stays at Swedish hotels during the summer will increase by half a million, of which 175,000 are likely to be foreign guests.

The organization estimated that visitors from abroad were set to spend a total of 115 billion ($13.3 billion) in the country during the whole of 2015.


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.