German tourists rescued after mistaking Swedish ski track for road

A German couple on a tour of Arctic Sweden had to be rescued on Monday after driving their hire car down a cross-country ski track they mistook for a road.

German tourists rescued after mistaking Swedish ski track for road
Ski tracks are meant for skiing. Photo: Tor Richardsen/NTB scanpix/TT
“They drove from a car park out onto a ski track,” Anders Burman, the officer responsible for maintaining the ski tracks in Kiruna, 145km north of the Arctic Circle, told The Local.
“They're not the first.  Many, many people have done it before.” 
Burman said the tourists had managed to get around 200m down the track before their vehicle got trapped in deep snow, and they had to call for help.
They then had to be dragged out by one of the snowplough machines used to make the tracks, which took over an hour. 
Sven-Erik Fjellborg, the snowplough driver who rescued the couple, told the local Norrländska Socialdemokraten newspaper that this was the third time he had had to drag a car off the tracks. 
“They go out to take photos, they're hunting the Northern Lights, and all that kind of stuff, you know,” he said. 


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.