Sweden tourism board tired of being confused for Switzerland: What is the difference?

Publish Date
Wednesday, 1 November 2023, 2:43PM

The National Tourism Board of Sweden says it is suffering from an identity crisis. One in two adults in the US are not able to tell the difference between Sweden and Switzerland.

Visit Sweden recently announced there were 85,000 Google searches last year for the query: “Are Sweden and Switzerland the same?”

As you can imagine, this has led to some very confusing holiday bookings...

A Dynata market survey commissioned by the Swedish tourism organisation showed one in 10 respondents in the US admitted to trying to book flights to the wrong country when planning travel to Europe.

Last year, the White House had to apologise after US President Joe Biden mistakenly welcomed Switzerland’s bid to join Nato, when he meant Sweden.

Visit Sweden says it is an honest, but very real, mistake and the subject of a new tourism campaign titled “Sweden (not Switzerland)”.

While both popular tourism destinations share many aspects, Visit Sweden’s CEO Susanne Andersson argues that these similarities are superficial. And just two letters deep.

“If people struggle to separate our two countries, we need to help them. We can’t change the names of our nations, but we can become more distinct,” she says.

While 80 per cent of respondents associated both Scandinavian and Helvetian holidays with snow and mountains, in fact, the countries’ topography is very different.

Visit Sweden says its big USP is 3218 kilometres of coastline versus landlocked Switzerland.

While Sweden’s northerly location means it enjoys chilly winters, it has an average height of 320 metres above sea level, versus Switzerland’s average of 1,350m in the precipitous alps. While both countries are mad for snow sports, Visit Sweden argues their ski resorts offer a lot better value, if not as much downhill action.

Both countries are relatively expensive places to travel, with Trip.com advising travellers to budget around $150 to $200 per day in Sweden versus $200 to $300 in Switzerland.

A misbooked holiday would be an expensive mistake to make.

“Switzerland is often referred to as the pinnacle of luxury - however, Sweden offers the luxury of a different nature, and these differences, in all of their beauty, are what we want to showcase,” says Andersson.

To do so, the Swedish tourism board has begun a petition to send to the Swiss Federal Assembly to stop confusion with the Cantons.

For example, Switzerland could lay claim to yodelling and cowbells, while Sweden has a claim to the sound of pinewoods and Abba.

Switzerland already has stringent laws on IP and use of national emblems by private companies. Earlier this year, chocolate maker Toblerone was told it could no longer use the emblem of the Matterhorn mountain on its packaging after production was moved outside of Switzerland.

This article was first published by the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.

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