Government newsletter: Have a good summer!
24 June 2014
Have a good summer!
Many people will be travelling during their holidays this summer. Although some will travel abroad, there is also considerable interest in holidaying in Sweden, among Swedes as well as tourists from other countries. You can read more below about what the Government is doing to make your holiday easier - in Sweden and abroad.
Swedes made over 16 million trips abroad last year. Most trips go well. But every year the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm handles over 2 000 cases of Swedes who run into difficulties - and Sweden's embassies handle many more than this.
New app to encourage travellers to prepare for their trip abroad
A trip is meant to be a positive experience, not a Foreign Service statistic.
As the holiday period approaches, investments are being made to ensure that more people prepare for their trips abroad by having insurance cover, reading about their destination country and improving their knowledge about what a Swedish diplomatic mission can and cannot help them with. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' on-call consular service is available around the clock to provide telephone advice and support. But there are limits to what the Swedish Foreign Service can do. The primary responsibility lies with the traveller.
The UD Resklar app helps those travelling abroad to plan their trip to ensure that they remember important things, such as passports, visas, insurance and embassies' travel information, and that they download important telephone numbers they will need should anything happen. A new feature of the app is the option to register, via an online form, to be on the embassy's 'List of Swedish citizens'. This will enable travellers to be contacted, if necessary, by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or embassy in the event of a major crisis.
World's fourth most interesting destination
While many Swedes are leaving the country for destinations abroad, millions of tourists are also visiting Sweden. Last year, the number of overnight stays rose to 53.8 million, according to figures from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. And Lonely Planet recently ranked Sweden as the world's fourth most interesting destination to visit.
To encourage more people to visit Sweden, the Government is investing SEK 60 million on sustainable destination development. The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, in close cooperation with VisitSweden, has selected five pilot destinations: Bohuslän, Kiruna, the Stockholm archipelago, Vimmerby and Åre.
Increased accessibility in sparsely populated and rural areas
Sweden is a large country, extending over vast distances. That is why some of Sweden's investments in tourism and vital rural areas focus on accessibility to services throughout the country. In recent years, the Government has introduced several initiatives for convenience stores and service stations in sparsely populated and rural areas. The aim is to enhance attractiveness and growth throughout the entire country. As recently as this spring, the Government decided to invest an additional SEK 700 million in 2014-2020 through the Rural Development Programme for Sweden to increase accessibility to services in sparsely populated and rural areas.
Even while on holidays, we want to be able to ring and surf the internet on our phones. The Government continues to create better conditions for being connected - particularly in sparsely populated and rural areas. The Government has approved the release of the 700 MHz spectrum for mobile broadband as of 1 April 2017.
This decision helps create better conditions for good mobile coverage across the country, as radio frequencies in this band are particularly well suited for coverage in rural areas. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority has also been instructed by the Government to chart the progress of the expansion of the mobile network in Sweden each year starting in 2014, which will provide opportunities to monitor how operators are fulfilling their commitments in terms of the expansion of the mobile network.
In April, the Government also decided that the Post and Telecom Authority, together with five country administrative boards, is to continue to hold regional dialogues in 2014 to promote mobile coverage. These dialogues aim to facilitate voluntary solutions and the expansion of mobile networks through increased collaboration between regional actors throughout the country.