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A year on from 'Last Night in Sweden' US tourists flock in

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A year on from 'Last Night in Sweden' US tourists flock in
Is there a Trump effect? Photo: Adam Wrafter/SvD/TT
16:20 CET+01:00
The year following US President Donald Trump's notorious 'Last Night in Sweden' speech, the number of US tourists coming to the Scandinavian country shot up by 44 percent.
In 2017, Swedish hotels, hostels and AirBnB hosts took in 790,000 overnight bookings from US tourists, up from 550,000 in 2016, according to figures compiled by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. 
 
Sofi Sjöberg, an analyst for the agency, said that it was possible that Trump's frequent references to Sweden in speeches and tweets had boosted Sweden's profile, helping explain what she called "very high figures".  
 
"You could say that you lift Sweden up by saying a thing like that," she said. "It's possible that it draws attention to Sweden as a country that you might want to go and visit." 
 
On February 18th last year, Trump appeared to suggest that Sweden had just suffered some sort of terrorism atrocity. 
 
"When you look at what's happening last night in Sweden – Sweden! Who would believe this? Sweden!," the American leader told a Florida rally.
 
This left Swedes baffled since that Friday had in fact been relatively uneventful. In the end, it emerged that Trump had been referring to a report he had seen on Fox News about crime figures in general.
 
Sjöberg said there might also be non Trump-related explanations for the surge in US visitors, including an advertising campaign launched by Visit Sweden in partnership with the room-sharing app AirBnB, and the start of cheap, direct flights to Stockholm from US airports operated by Norwegian Airlines. 
 
"We only have the statistics, we need to analyze this together with market research," she said. "At the moment, we can only speculate." 
 
The total number of overnight stays from foreign tourists in Sweden grew four percent overall, with nights booked by Chinese visitors growing nearly 14 percent, and those booked by Dutch visitors up 12 percent. The only decline came in tourists from other Nordic countries. 
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