Foreign tourists aren’t coming to Sweden in the same numbers as previously hoped for. When RTS (Rese- och Turistnäringen i Sverige or the Swedish travel and tourism industry) made their last long-term investigation, Sweden had just had a string of years with marked increases within the tourism sector, and it was thought that tourism would double the turnover in 2020 and reach 515 billion SEK ($77 billion). Reality has put a damper on that optimism. Numbers presented in Göteborg last week show that the turnover in 2020 will hit 451 billion SEK ($67 billion) instead, which is an increase considering that today’s level is 254 billion SEK ($38 billion).

“This is not at all a scary prognosis,” says Jan Lundin, CEO of Rese- och Turistnäringen i Sverige. “We have a marked expansion.” And the tourism sector has not completely given up hope in reaching 500 billion SEK, but in order to get there, annual increases of at least 7 percent are needed. The crisis in Europe may be an obstacle for foreign visitors, but Swedish tourists travel just like they did before.
“They will be our most important market, at least during the euro crisis,” Lundin continues. He points at Sweden’s possibilities in attracting conferences, international arrangements and competitions. “But more people need to raise their hands and invite people,” he says. “The same goes for sports.” The goal may not necessarily mean hosting big events like the Olympic Games or the IAAF World Championships in Athletics. “Junior championships also pull in a lot of people. We hosted the junior championship in Östersund, and whole families came here then. That’s positive.” Lundin says it’s fine to talk about the Olympics and other world championships, but to focus on the other, smaller arrangements first. “Lower the ambition level,” is his advice.