Fewer tourists in Swedish mountains this year

There are fewer tourists in the Swedish mountains this summer compared to previous years, which could have positive effects on the mountain environment.

Fewer tourists in Swedish mountains this year
A couple hike in Björkliden with a view over Lapporten Photo: Henrik Holmberg/TT

2019 was a record year for mountain tourism, and even during the pandemic there was great interest in hiking.

Now, however, interest seems to have waned, public broadcaster radio Ekot reports. In June 2022, the Swedish Tourist Association (STF) reported 19 percent fewer overnight guests compared to the same month in 2019. Airline strikes, high fuel prices and unpredictable weather in the mountains are mentioned as possible reasons for the decrease.

For those already in Sweden, this provides a chance to visit the mountains with fewer tourists than usual. Here’s The Local’s guide of the best wild camping spots if you’re planning a trip to the Swedish mountains soon.

However, the reduced number of visitors can also have positive effects on the mountain environment, Marit Sarri from Abisko tourist station told radio Ekot. It can lessen the burden on animals, nature, and reindeer husbandry.

“There is usually high pressure on the Kungsleden and the Abisko-Kebnekaise trails, as well as in the Jämtlandsfjällen,” she said. “So there is an advantage to it being a little calmer this year,” she told the radio.

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EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Two major changes that were due to come into force in 2022 for travellers entering the EU - an enhanced passport scanning system and the introduction of a €7 visa for tourists - have been delayed for a year.

EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

Although both the EES and ETIAS schemes are still due to be introduced in the European Commission has pushed back the start dates for both until 2023.

It comes amid a chaotic summer for travel in Europe, with airports struggling with staff shortages and strikes while some crossings from the UK to France have been hit by long delays as extra post-Brexit checks are performed during the peak holiday season. 

The two separate changes to travel in the EU and Schengen zone were originally due to come into effect in 2020, but were delayed because of the pandemic. Now the EES system is expected to come into effect in May 2023, while ETIAS will come into effect in November 2023. 

The EES – Entry and Exit System – is essentially enhanced passport scanning at the EU’s borders and means passports will not only be checked for ID and security, but also for entry and exit dates, in effect tightening up enforcement of the ’90 day rule’ that limits the amount of time non-EU citizens can spend in the Bloc without having a visa.

It will not affect non-EU citizens who live in an EU country with a residency permit or visa.

There have been concerns that the longer checks will make transiting the EU’s external borders slower, a particular problem at the UK port of Dover, where the infrastructure is already struggling to cope with enhanced post-Brexit checks of people travelling to France.

You can read a full explanation of EES, what it is and who is affects HERE.

The ETIAS system will apply to all non-EU visitors to an EU country – eg tourists, second-home owners, those making family visits and people doing short-term work.

It will involve visitors registering in advance for a visa and paying a €7 fee. The visa will be valid for three years and can be used for multiple trips – essentially the system is very similar to the ESTA visa required for visitors to the USA. 

Residents of an EU country who have a residency card or visa will not need one.

You can read the full details on ETIAS, how it works and who it affects HERE.

Both systems will apply only to people who do not have citizenship of an EU country – for example Brits, Americans, Australians and Canadians – and will be used only at external EU/Schengen borders, so it won’t be required when travelling between France and Germany, for example.