There are as many ideas and expectations about Stockholm as there are visitors! Of course, we need to be friendly and well-informed about the city so that we can offer guests the best possible service. Besides that however, there are some basic facts that could be good to know about our destination and those who visit us.
Where do our visitors come from?
Those of us working with hospitality in Stockholm are accustomed to meeting people from many different countries. But where do most of them come from and how many are they? In 2019, the number of visitors to Stockholm was record-high. But then, the pandemic hit. For the full-year 2019, we recorded 15.3 million overnight stays by visitors to Stockholm County. Stockholm thus ranked 13th as the most visited destination in Europe, right after Hamburg. During 2020-21, the number of overnight stays dropped significantly - then increased to 14.4 million in 2022 (see the chart below).
The majority of those travelling to Stockholm are from somewhere else in Sweden, with Swedes accounting for 2/3 of the overnight stays. When it comes to international guests however, USA, Germany and UK accounted for the most in 2022, (these same three countries were at the top of the list in 2019 as well).
Chart 1: Number of overnight stays in Stockholm County.
How long do guests stay?
Good questions to ask when a guest arrives might be: “When did you arrive?” and “How long will you be staying?” When we know that, we are better able to recommend excursions that they might have time for. In 2019, the average overnight stay for visitors to Stockholm was 2.7 nights. Visitors who stayed at hotels in Stockholm City during 2021 stayed on average around two nights - and as you can see in the table below, foreign guests usually stay slightly longer than Swedes.
Chart 2: Number of overnight stays for visitors to Stockholm County during 2017-2021.
How do visitors travel to Stockholm?
People travel to Stockholm in a variety of ways. During the 2010s, the volume of travellers through the Stockholm airports grew by nearly 50% and the total number for 2019 was 30.5 million. During 2020-21, this number of course dropped significantly (8.7 million in 2021).
Cruises and ferries are also very important for Stockholm. During the 2010s, around 10 million people passed through Stockholm’s ports every year. Most were journeys to and from Finland.
Why do people visit Stockholm?
Traditionally, we have categorised people as either business or leisure visitors. Until 2019, business travellers rented most hotel rooms in Stockholm. However, the difference in numbers between these two groups has shrunk over the last 10-year period and in 2021 private travellers occupied most hotel rooms in Stockholm. In other words, more and more people are coming to Stockholm for vacation. A development that has continued during 2020-2021. Have you noticed this where you work? Do these two groups have different needs? Do they ask for the same types of things?
Chart 3: Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth/Statistics Sweden.
During the summer of 2022, Visit Stockholm conducted a survey on the visitors' experience in Stockholm. Regarding "why you had chosen to travel to Stockholm", the following reasons ended up in the top-5:
1) Been here before / wish to return
2) Meet relatives and friends
3) Want to see something new (1)
4) The culture (3)
5) Want to see Sweden/Scandinavia (2)
The figure in brackets shows the most popular answers among international visitors. Here, the most common answer was “want to see something new”.
In the same survey, we investigated what visitors had done or planned to do during their stay in the city. The most common was to "walk around the city". Maybe we can suggest to our guests to take the footpath a little more often! In the chart below, you find other activities that were among the most common.
Chart 4: "Activities during the stay". The visitor's experience of Stockholm. Visit Stockholm 2022
What do visitors think about Stockholm?
The things that a person might associate with Stockholm certainly depend on where they come from. But when Visit Stockholm 2019 asked this very question in eleven international markets, the response was that people perceived Stockholm as a safe and secure destination, with interesting cultural attractions and places worth visiting. We are also perceived as a hospitable city.
As mentioned earlier, a much greater number of visitors to Stockholm are from other places in Sweden compared to international visitors. The survey on travel within Sweden, “Resa i Sverige 2021” revealed that what Swedes consider to be most important when visiting a city/destination is that “People in the city are friendly”. In other words, of the 15 statements covered in the survey, this is what respondents ranked the highest. So then, what do Swedes visiting Stockholm have to say about the city’s friendliness?
Well, around 50% felt that the people in Stockholm were friendly. We were thus slightly below the average for other places in Sweden covered by the survey (68%). It is an area where we can improve. Take some time to reflect with your colleagues on how we can offer better hospitality to our Swedish guests. How might their expectations differ to those of our international visitors?
Events are important!
Stockholm is also an important city for events and it has a clear strategy of wanting to attract sustainable events that are appreciated by both residents and visitors. So, a good tip is to keep track of the agenda of events in the city so that you will be a bit more prepared when guests arrive. Here is our events calendar and a more comprehensive listing of major events: Stockholm Public Events. During fall 2020, Visit Stockholm surveyed which events people associate the most with Stockholm. At the top of the list, by a wide margin, was Stockholm Marathon, followed by culture, football and Pride.
Every city has its own unique DNA that defines what it looks like, how it works and how it feels. It is something that forms over time, based on the city’s history, culture and traditions. The people of any given city are the ones who, together, create its DNA and stand behind it. Read more on Stockholms DNA och Positionering (partly in Swedish).
How does Visit Stockholm market Stockholm?
One of the main focus areas for Visit Stockholm is spreading our vision of Stockholm in the international market. We want to ensure that our communication emphasises Stockholm’s values of equality, openness and sustainability. We carry out this effort in all segments, with focus on a target group that is attracted by Stockholm’s lifestyle and areas such as music, food, science, technology and design.
Since 2020, efforts have also been underway, both nationally and regionally, to market ourselves as a “staycation” destination, which is a trend that has significantly increased during the pandemic years of 2020-2021.
In recent years, we’ve also noticed a growing trend of visitors wanting to get the genuine, authentic experience from the destination they have travelled to. In other words, unlike mass tourism, people are wanting to “get under the skin” of the city, and experience it like locals do. That’s why we are featuring “Meet the Locals” on our website: visitstockholm.com. As part of the hospitality industry in Stockholm, you are also a local, so your tips and advice are highly valued by our guests. If you haven’t already done so, please consider the following: What things do you appreciate doing in Stockholm? Where are the best places for that?
How do residents of Stockholm feel about their city?
If the people working at any given establishment feel proud of it, chances are that the quality of hospitality there will also be very high. The same applies to Stockholm as destination overall. In 2019, when the City of Stockholm measured its brand, residents of Stockholm were surveyed to see which characteristics they felt were most consistent with their perception of the city. Here are the characteristics that ranked the highest: Beautiful (92%), A pleasant place to stay/visit (80%) and A nice mix of old and new (77%). For the question: How proud are you to be a Stockholmer?, the chart below shows how people felt about that.
Chart 6: Brand measurement for the City of Stockholm, 2019.
In other words, the conclusion is that residents of Stockholm are relatively proud of their city. What aspects of the city are you proud of?
How do Stockholmers feel about visitors?
The number of visitors to Stockholm radically increased during the 2010s. It reached an all-time high in 2019, when there were more than 15,000 additional overnight stays per day in Stockholm County compared to 2009. How do Stockholmers feel about that, given that the number of visitors has increased so dramatically over the last decade?
In 2022, Visit Stockholm conducted a citizens' panel that gathered over 2,000 responses from all districts in Stockholm. Many Stockholmers have a positive attitude towards visitors, although somewhat passive. Nine out of ten were positive about visitors. As can be seen in the picture below, most people were proud to see tourists in their city and most thought it was a good idea to continue attracting tourists to the city.
Figur 7: Citizen panel 2022
What kind of problem did the people of Stockholm think there might be? Above all, it is about congestion, traffic problems, littering and climate impact. Those of us in the hospitality industry have a role to play here. We can help inform and educate our guests so that these types of problems can be minimised. How can we do that, as part of our jobs, in the best possible way?
What does the hospitality industry consist of?
The hospitality industry is all the companies and actors that have some part of their sales to tourists. A total of 101,000 people were employed in tourism in Sweden in 2021, and tourism accounted for an export value of SEK 57 billion. So what do the visitors do with the money they spend in Sweden? In 2021, consumption in trade accounted for 31%, followed by housing and accommodation 16%. (Tillväxtverket).
How is it going right now and what’s planned?
What is the current status of Stockholm’s hospitality industry and what is going on in the city during the week ahead? Here are some useful links: