Tourism investments in the middle of Sweden
What is the economic outlook in your region in terms of tourism investments for the coming year and how does it contrast with the previous 12 months?
Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Sweden and it is the mountain destinations that have experienced the largest growth. During the year of 2010 €633 million was invested in the tourism industry in Sweden. The financing was mainly from private investors (68 %) and about one third was from the public sector. The largest investments were done in hotel properties and in ski resorts.
- Almost half of the total national investments were done in the county of Jämtland. This is a region where only 1, 5 per cent of the population lives and where tourism is highly prioritized, says Ms Palm, Investment promotion manager for the tourism industry in the county of Jämtland, Sweden.
The ski destinations in Jämtland have carried out large investments the last few years, between 2008 and 2011 more than €280 million were invested. The municipality of Berg in the southern part of Jämtland recently invested €10 million to strengthen the sewers system, making it possible to build another 17 000 new beds.
- There are so many projects going on right now and the destinations changes for every season. When I visited a local investor in Vemdalen a few weeks ago he showed me the latest project. Eight large houses are being built and will accommodate the new village center with more shopping and tourism apartments, says Ms Palm who travels a lot in order to stay up to date on current and planned investments.
Today Destination Vemdalen covers an area with three villages but it will soon be increased to four as a whole new valley is emerging, the Eagles valley. It is a €230 million project and will focus on all-year activities, even if the main attraction still is the alpine skiing.
- It is very valuable for the area to have strong investors that will push the development to an all-year destination, says Ms Palm.
Which destinations have experienced the biggest growth, and what investment opportunities are there?
- There is a great demand for more commercial beds close to the ski slope as well as more activity companies. The number of guest nights in Jämtland increased with more than 10 % between 2006 and 2010 and the international guests are still to discover the region, says Ms Palm.
The goal for the year 2020 is to more than double the international guest nights and to go from an annual turnover of 3, 8 billion Swedish kroners (2010) to 6 billion Swedish kroners for the tourism industry in Jämtland.
The winter season attracts the most visitors but summer season is growing rapidly. Jämtland has for long attracted hikers but as costumer’s demands are higher today than 100 years ago (!) new attractions are developing. Ski slopes are used during the summer season for downhill biking and shopping is becoming more prioritized in the destinations.
- Swedes have been coming to the mountains for years and we know how to experience the wild life. For many international guests this wide open space is something new and exotic. There is a need for better packaging of our nature experiences to international guests, says Ms Palm. Hiking with a tent and heavy backpack is not the ideal vacation for everyone.
What incentives are available to prospective investors?
Financial incentives for investors in Sweden are primarily available at a regional level. Jämtland is located in Regional Development Area A with regional investment grants for up to 50% depending on type of investment and business size.
Inland innovation is a new venture capital company established by the government in order to support business in the inland regions. Earlier this year they announced that they are investing €3.6 million in a destination company that are building in the south west part of Jämtland.
- This proves that there is a great interest to invest in Jämtland. I think Inland innovation is a great initiative by the government to support the tourism industry, says Ms Palm.
What does Sweden have to offer in terms of its workforce and human resources?
Sweden is often described as one of the world’s most knowledge-intensive economies. Skilled professionals, smooth business procedure and receptivity to international ownership make Sweden an easy country to operate in.
The Mid Sweden University in Östersund carries out world leading research in Tourism, Outdoors and Winter Sports. The amount of professional outdoor companies in the region and the fact that Östersund offers unique bachelor and master programs in the field make this an ideal place for recruitment.
- The high quality of life also helps to attract and to keep key professionals in these areas. You can reach the nature within 15 minutes from anywhere and world leading ski destinations are only one hour away, says Ms Palm, who moved to Jämtland in 2006.