Northvolts beslut att etablera Europas största batterifabrik i Skellefteå har placerat kommunen i en unik sits. Här investeras det mest per capita av samtliga kommuner i Sverige och satsningarna ska inte bara ske socialt, ekonomiskt och miljömässigt hållbart – utan också på kort tid. Något som kräver samarbete med aktörer på…
Tourism in Skellefteå: An investment opportunity
Tourism in Skellefteå is a growing, billion-kronor industry. The past ten years have seen an upswing in hotel guest nights, achieving 46 per cent occupancy rates, and a new premium hotel is being built to better meet the growing demand. However, this is only the beginning, says Maria Broman, CEO of Visit Skellefteå, who sees enormous potential in the region as travel behavior patterns are evolving and now favor value and sustainability.
“We have a lot to offer here,” says Broman, “but to raise the bar requires new types of investments and for that we need to see the place with fresh eyes.”
Broman thinks Skellefteå offers huge potential growth. There is a newborn belief in the future, which manifests itself in the building of a new culture center and a premium hotel with sufficient capacity to accommodate major conferences and more visitors.
“These are significant investments in infrastructure that will favor Skellefteå,” says Boman. “Even the North Bothnia Line railway will be of great importance as there are currently limited transport opportunities to get here.”
OPENING UP TO THE OPPORTUNITIES
Overall there are many openings for driven entrepreneurs, not just in the main town, but in the municipality as a whole.
“Of course, a new hotel is great and long-awaited, but we need more unique nature-oriented forms of travel experiences,” says Boman. “We currently lack a major tourist destination such as the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, but the area has the same prerequisites.” Boman points to Arctic Bath, the open-air swimming-baths and hotel being built just outside Harads in Norrbotten, as an example.
“It’s a fantastic idea where they have dared to invest in design, quality and sustainability,” says Boman. “It could just as easily be situated outside Skellefteå. I believe many investments in Skellefteå will be made by outsiders who see the potential and the possibilities we have historically been perhaps slightly blind to.”
A COMPELLING OFFERING
According to Boman, sustainability is increasingly in demand and travel is becoming more focused on value.
“Travelling is becoming a form of self-realization,” says Boman. “It’s a global trend and we must be better at identifying what we have to offer and further develop our existing offerings. Not least, I see both Vitberget in Skellefteå and Vitberget in Kalvträsk as well as Bjuröklubb as highly interesting areas that can attract more visitors. But we need to have more unique travel destinations and opportunities throughout the municipality,” she says, adding that it is not just major investments in facilities that attract people.
“It can just as well be a question of different types of guided tours and courses,” she says. “More and more people travel to learn – and we can take advantage of that. Just put on cross-country skis and there is tremendous potential. And that’s not to mention hiking and cycling.”
INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR RESIDENTS AS WELL
Of course, with increased tourism comes opportunities in the commerce and restaurant sectors.
“In the city things look good,” argues Boman. “Here, we have a good offering with unique shops, and we know that that is a travel reason for many.
“It is quite simply not as attractive to shop in a town with the exact same chains as you have at home. We also have a good offering of high-class and exciting eateries,” says Boman who nonetheless calls for a really good vegetarian/vegan restaurant, a gap in the existing offering – and an opportunity to tap in on the growing demand among younger people.