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Free entry planned for Swedish museums

Sweden's state-owned museums could soon become free to visit under new plans set to be put forward in the government's autumn budget.

Free entry planned for Swedish museums
A Louise Bourgois exhibition at Moderna Museet, Stockholm in February 2015. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT
Both tourists and locals are set to benefit from the proposals which would see a return to free entry at some of Sweden's most popular cultural attractions including the modern art Moderna museet venues in Stockholm and Malmö, the Naturhistorika riksmuseet (Swedish Museum of Natural History) and the Världskulturmuseet i Göteborg (Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg).
 
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven's Social Democrat party introduced a similar scheme when it last was in power ten years ago, but fees were reintroduced by the centre-right Alliance government in 2006.
 
Culture Minister Alice Bah Kuhnke told Swedish broadcaster SVT on Tuesday that she hoped the move would encourage people from a more diverse range of backgrounds to attend exhibitions.
 
“We need to open up and show our shared treasures to reach groups other than those who usually go to museums,” she said.
 
 

A tourist at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. Photo: Pontus Lindahl/TT
 
The government previously suggested it would introduce the initiative last year, but was unable to do so after its last autumn budget was blocked by the nationalist Sweden Democrats, resulting in a political crisis.
 
But Sweden's mainstream parties went on to strike the December Agreement deal, which should ensure that the coalition's financial plan for the coming 12 months gets through parliament without any hassle.
 
 
Bah Kuhnke has indicated that museums will be given 80 million kronor of state funding to help them deal with their drop in public income, telling SVT that this amount could be “adjusted” if it turns out to be too little, as some critics have argued.
 
Entry to Swedish museums is currently relatively pricey by European standards.
 
For an adult's ticket to the Moderna Museet in Stockholm the fee is 120 kronor ($14.50). By contrast it costs $9 to visit Berlin's Museum of Modern Art, Photography and Architecture and around $10 to visit Barcelona's contemporary art museum. It is free to visit London's largest contemporary art space, The Tate Modern. However in Paris, the Pompidou centre is priced at $14.
 
 
The full list of museums set to be free from 2016

Armémuseum (Army museum)

Etnografiska museet (Museum of Ethnography)

Flygvapenmuseum (Swedish Air Force Museum)

Historiska museet (History Museum)

Kungl. myntkabinettet (Royal Coin Cabinet)

Livrustkammaren (Royal Armoury)

Marinmuseum (Naval Museum)

Medelhavsmuseet (Mediterranean Museum)

Moderna museet (Modern Museum)

Nationalmuseum (National Museum)

Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (Swedish Museum of Natural History)

Sjöhistoriska museet (Maritime Museum)

Skoklosters slott (Skokloster Castle)

Statens centrum för arkitektur och design (Architecture and Design Museum)

Världskulturmuseet (Museum of World Culture)

Östasiatiska museet (Museum of East Asia)

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How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules

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