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Could cooler Sweden replace the Med as Europe's top summer tourist destination?

TT/The Local
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Could cooler Sweden replace the Med as Europe's top summer tourist destination?
The Trouville beach on the island of Sandhamn in the Stockholm archipelago. Photo: Caisa Rasmussen/TT

With peak summer temperatures forecast to be uncomfortably high in holiday favourites like Greece, Spain and Italy, what are Sweden's chances of becoming the place Europeans flock to for their summer breaks?


According to the European Travel Commission (ETC), the number of people planning to travel to the Mediterranean between June and November this year was already down 10 percent on last year, when the region was also hit by droughts and wildfires. The impact of this year's intense Cerberus heatwave is likely to mean the downward trend for Mediterranean destinations only accelerates next year. 

"We anticipate that unpredictable weather conditions in the future will have a greater impact on travellers' choices in Europe," said Miguel Sanz, the head of the ETC.

According to the ETC, destinations like Denmark, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria have seen a corresponding spike in interest. 

The UK's Mirror newspaper earlier this month named Sweden and Denmark as two of its five top tips for countries where holiday-makers can avoid the summer heatwave, calling Sweden a "sunny paradise" with "countless swimming spots" where the water is "often clean enough to drink". 


Stefan Gössling, a professor of tourism at Linnaeus University, told the TT newswire that he expected any increase in summer tourism to Sweden to come gradually. 

"I think that some people are going to choose to travel to northern Europe rather than southern Europe, but I don't think it's going to happen immediately, but gradually over time," he said.

He pointed out that Sweden was not immune to the impacts of climate change, with a growing risk of forest fires and also the prospect of heavier summer rainfall. 

"If a destination becomes known for being rainier than it was previously, that could have a bigger negative impact on its attractiveness as a destination than that faced by a destination which is known for being hotter than it was before," he said.


Tourists are not only drawn to Italy, Greece and Spain by the weather, but also by their culture, history, and cuisine, he added, meaning it was more likely that tourists to these countries would reschedule their trips to cooler months such as May, June and September than avoid the countries altogether. 

"If you want to eat Italian pizza, you need to go to Italy," he said. "It won't necessarily be that people choose another season, but more that they will avoid periods when you know it could be extremely hot. There will always be people who prefer to travel in the warmer seasons, but I think the 'shoulder season' [between high season and low season] will be more popular." 

The research carried out by the ETC suggests a similar future shift in the timing of trips. 

"Our latest analysis suggests a decline in the number of people who ware interested in travelling in August, which is the high season, while more people are considering autumn trips," the organisation's chief executive, Miguel Sanz, told Reuters. 



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