Västerbotten Investment Agency

Regional Tourism: Small is the new Big

SantoshWritten december 16th, 2013 by Santosh

In Tourism, experience is everything! Fishing under the midnight sun. Ammarnäs Fishing centre is approved by Nature’s Best as an ecotourism operator. (Staffan Widstrand/imagebank.sweden.se)

Destination Västerbotten:

The tourism business in Vasterbotten province comprises a number of small enterprises that can be classified as SMEs – micro, small and medium-sized. They own and run a range of businesses including B &Bs, hunting and fishing trips, dog sledding excursions, and adventure tourism among many, many other unique and attractive tourism-related activities.

It is these small companies that drive the tourism activities in the region and are the lifeline for the tourism industry. Tourism statistics published by Tillvaxtverket – the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth – showed that Västerbotten was the fastest growing region in Sweden 2011. So, these SMEs must be doing something right for Vasterbotten!

The growth trend in tourism has continued for Sweden as a whole too. The latest statistics show increased numbers in overnight stays in the summer of 2013, and almost all regions of the country reflected and increase an income from accommodation in hotels, hostels and holiday villages.*

With a service-minded culture characterized by courtesy, amazing outdoors and growing numbers of international and domestic tourists, Vasterbotten offers local, regional and foreign investors several market opportunities. These could include high-quality accommodation hotels and lodges, ski resort development with après ski services, hunting and fishing lodges or a travel agencies/tour operators offer extreme adventure in the gorgeous outdoors bordering Swedish Lapland.

 SMEs role in the tourism industry:

SMEs and their role in the tourism industry are not unique to Vasterbotten or Sweden for that matter! From Australia to South America and several countries in between, it is proven and well documented that they play a key role in tourism development. SMEs offer customers value for money and a level of service that makes their experience memorable and unique. I daresay it is their steadfast belief in the destination and what it can offer tourists that make these family owned enterprises successful.

It is these very SMEs that will benefit from help and assistance from the national and regional tourism organizations/boards in terms of destination marketing and facilitation.  It should be the responsibility of the tourism bodies to brand and promote the region aggressively and create partnerships for joint events; platforms for investment, cooperative marketing, advertising/social media campaigns and PR efforts while allowing the SMEs to focus on delivering quality and unique experiences to both domestic and international tourists.

Having said that, do all SMEs need such support from tourism promotion agencies? Not necessarily, studies have shown that SMEs that have international customers seek more destination marketing and facilitation support. Also, the micro-SMEs who engage in tourism related activities more to sustain their own life-style rather than to actually promote the tourism industry, do not seek such support.

Another key factor for growth and success is the availability of funds. Tourism Investment Funds are available to such SMEs. However, this is a topic for a whole new Blog!

Now, when I think of ‘small’ enterprises, I cannot but help quote from Seth Godin’s Book ‘Small is the new Big.’ This is what he says in one his chapters:


  • Small is the new big because small gives you the flexibility to change your business model when competition changes theirs
  • Small means the founder is involved in a far greater percentage of customer interactions – s/he can greet you by name and answer your email!
  • Small means the founder is close to decisions that matter and can make them quickly
  • Small means they are more nimble and agile, and most importantly,
  • Small means they can focus on delivering better customer experience.


Tourism is all about experiences. So, the better the customer experiences the more new (through word of mouth) and repeats customers. Seth Godin also says that “Small is the new big, only when the owners and their staff think big!”

In conclusion, SMEs need to plan big, strategize big, embrace new media and new technologies big and they need to believe in themselves big!

Guess what? This could mean the re-invention of Tourism Promotion organizations at the regional and national level and what their real role should be!


For more information on investment opportunities and/or information on this sector in Västerbotten, visit http://viavasterbotten.se


Santosh Hejmadi

*Source: Tillväxtverket Tourism Reports

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