International tourists slowly return to Sweden after coronavirus slump

International tourists slowly return to Sweden after coronavirus slump
Tourism dropped to historically low levels in Sweden this spring. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT
Tourists slowly started returning to Sweden in early summer after a historic downturn, new figures show.

The number of nights spent by tourists in hotels, camping sites, holiday villages and hostels across Sweden fell by 69 percent compared to last year during the peak of the coronavirus in April – the lowest number since the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) began keeping records in 1978.

Tourism is now recovering, but only slowly. The corresponding downturn for May was 57 percent. A total of 13 percent was made up of international tourism (around 300,000 so-called guest nights, or overnight stays), a decrease of 76 percent compared to May last year. Domestic tourism fell by 51 percent, around two million overnight stays.

That's still a notable drop compared to last year, but is also the first sign of recovery for the Swedish tourism industry. International tourism decreased 82 percent year-on-year in April, and domestic tourism 65 percent.

Visits by Norwegian and German tourists decreased less than other countries in May. Both Norwegian and German tourism fell 64 percent in May compared to last year. In April, Norwegian tourists spent 84 percent fewer nights in Sweden compared to last year, and Germans spent 71 percent fewer nights in Sweden.

Visitors from the United States, Sweden's largest non-European market, spent 11,500 nights in hotels, hostels, holiday villages and camping sites in May – down 88 percent compared to May last year.

The Stockholm region, closely followed by the island of Gotland, saw the biggest fall in tourism in May – tourists spent 78 percent fewer nights in the Swedish capital compared to Gotland's 66 percent.

On the other end of the scale, Halland and Kalmar in southern Sweden only saw a decrease of 34 percent and 36 percent respectively, with tourists spending 185,000 and 139,000 nights in those regions in May.

In total, tourists spent around 2.3 million overnight stays in Sweden in May and 1.3 million in April, according to Tillväxtverket.

Sweden last week introduced a series of new exceptions to an entry ban from non-EU destinations, which has been in place since early this spring to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Read more here.

Swedish vocabulary

Germany – Tyskland

Norway – Norge

holiday village – (en) stugby

hostel – (ett) vandrarhem

guest night/overnight stay (specifically within the tourism industry) – (en) gästnatt


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