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The Supply of Nature-based Tourism in Sweden: A National Inventory of Service Providers
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Tourism Studies and Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3098-1490
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Tourism Studies and Geography.
2014 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This report provides a descriptive overview of a national inventory of nature-based tourism (NBT) service providers in Sweden. In order to obtain a representative sample a “geographical distribution” approach was used based on the cooperation of regional tourist bureaus. As a result, contact information of 2060 service providers was received. Following two non-response check-ups and a screening question the effective sample was 1821 NBT service providers (referred to as “companies”) and a follow-up web survey resulted in 648 valid responses. Results from the survey are reported under the following themes: Business operations; Seasonality and geographical distribution; Influence of other land users; The role of National Parks; Nature and wildlife; Infrastructure, access and legal rights; Environmental responsibility; Sales and costs; Employment; The market for nature-based tourism and Networking. Open ended questions are reported in the Appendices. Among the many results presented in the report we like to highlight the following;


  • The general impression from the results is that NBT is a rather diversified sector which relies on multiple business operations. Only about 20 % of the companies have one hundred percent of their annual sales from NBT.


  • The supply of NBT in Sweden circles around different types of water based activities to a large extent when measured vis-à-vis importance to annual sales. It is also a summer business – between 60-80 % of all respondents ranked the months June-September as the most important season.


  • Guided activities in nature and accommodation are ranked as the most important business activities while fishing, kayaking, canoeing and/or rafting are the most important recreation activities.


  • Future growth of the Swedish NBT sector is likely. While 37 % of the companies classified themselves as being in a growth phase and 6 % in start-up, only 8 % were in recession and 2 % in liquidation.


  • The counties in Sweden having the highest absolute number of NBT service providers are Västra Götaland, Norrbotten, Jämtland and Östergötland.


  • The majority of the companies are dependent on access to land with an external ownership. The freedom to roam in nature is very important to three-quarters of all respondents while only four percent think this opportunity is of no importance at all. Hiking trails and cabins are the most important types of infrastructure.


  • Three most important nature environments for NBT operations in Sweden are forests, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Hydroelectric dams, wind power plants and forestry are among the land and water uses which are the most negative to the companies in this study.


  • Between 5-15 % of all NBT companies in this study are engaged in environmental responsibility programs such as sustainability reporting, CSR or carbon offsetting measures.


  • Looking at the importance of different wildlife we find that fish, birds and moose are the most important. Only about 14 % of the companies report activities within or in the 5 km range from a National Park.


  • The average annual sale is close to 2 million SEK among the companies in this study and the total sales of the Swedish NBT sector is estimated as at least 3,6 Billion SEK. There are a small number of large and a large number of small NBT service providers in terms of annual sales.


  • Just over 60 % of the companies reports at least one full time year round employment while 40 % have at least one part time year round employment working with NBT operations.


  • Most employees are from the county where the company is registered. About one in five companies have employees from other counties in Sweden outside the county where the company is registered while 15 % of the companies report employees from other countries than Sweden.


  • Majority of the sales are from the private market segment. On average, about 14 % of the companies report heavy reliance (proportion of 80-100%) on customers from the same county where the company is registered. In contrast, only about 5 % report the same reliance on customers from Sweden outside the county where the company is registered. Finally, 17 % report similar proportion of customers from countries other than Sweden (international customers).


  • Besides Sweden the most important foreign markets are Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. Only a few percent of the companies report more distant markets such as Asia or the USA.


  • Around 22 % of the companies cooperate with the Swedish Ecotourism Association (Svenska ekoturismföreningen), the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) and the Swedish Tourism Association (STF) respectively. It is less common to be affiliated with the Swedish hospitality industry (Visita) or a forest owner association.


  • Almost half of all respondents were working in another non-service company immediately prior to starting/getting employed by the current NBT company. Only one third worked in another service or tourist company.


  • 39 % of all respondents have at least one year of experience from the NBT sector before they started the company or became an employee of the company where they currently work.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Östersund, 2014. , 105 p.
Rapportserien / European Tourism Research Institute, ISSN 1403-4220 ; 2014:1
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-21606ISBN: 978-91-87557-47-7OAI: diva2:706681
Available from: 2014-03-21 Created: 2014-03-21 Last updated: 2016-09-29Bibliographically approved

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