News about: Destination

An otherwise unremarkable door in a workshop next to Gothenburg’s fishing harbour and auction market has attracted many elite chefs. Although they ensure that all the ingredients are lovingly prepared and refined, having the right plate is of the greatest importance. So thinks the 2019 Chef of the Year.

Photo: Samuel Unéus.

We shall begin at the beginning, starting down at the fishing dock. Due to the corona situation, we’ll skip the actual fish auction and move on to Västergården, where the plates are made on which Chef of the Year Martin Moses serves his creations at SK Mat & Människor.

Mia Martinius, the potter who makes more than one hundred plates and bowls every day in her own raw, personal style, has become something of a favourite among style-conscious chefs – not only in Gothenburg and Stockholm, but also as far afield as in Dubai!

She is self-taught, and she loves the pottery workshop and store that she runs together with her three children. Martin Moses has a stack of ceramic plates with him from the Michelin-starred restaurant in Gothenburg. He wonders whether Mia would be able to patch up the plates that have sustained minor damage from the various servings – and he wants the ‘camouflaging’ to be visible. In Japan, such blemishes are often covered with gold, in order to demonstrate the opposite of today’s disposable culture.

Many of those who visit Mia’s store have previously dined at SK Mat & Människor and been enchanted – not just by the food but also by the crockery on which it is served.

“The two things go together”, says Martin Moses. “Serving the right food on the right kind of plate makes all the difference. We eat with our eyes, that’s the way it is.”

In the Instagram age, it is not without importance to have photo-chic plates, or that each dish is served on its own style of plate. Martin and Mia discuss the use of different surfaces for different dishes or ingredients. The next day, the 2020 Dish of the Year is to be announced – a dish that the Chef of the Year gets to design, and that will hopefully become a new classic among the general public.

Standing 196 cm tall, it is difficult for Martin Moses to move around unnoticed in the pottery workshop. Sometimes he cannot resist the temptation to pass a heated plate to his diners, with hands that are accustomed to such heat. Office workers’ hands, however, get a bit of a shock, he says with a smile. So there’s a certain amount of mischief in him. But he is also surprisingly honest about the vulnerability experienced by chefs. Cooking involves sharing a part of yourself – exposing yourself to both praise and criticism.

Martin Moses almost bangs his head on the roof timber in the pottery workshop where he has signed his name. He has added his name to the signatures of other star chefs who use Mia’s plates and bowls.

“I have been really fortunate in that the chefs recommend me to others. I couldn’t wish for a better kind of advertisement”, laughs Mia, contentedly.

The fact that Sweden’s biggest fish auction, where fish wholesalers place bids on fish and shellfish, lies just next door is of course significant. It perhaps also helps that the door to the workshop and store is so anonymous – we take the wrong door, even though Martin has been here many times before.

After Martin has discussed the colours and surfaces that are the best match for his Dish of the Year (which will be crispy cod steaks, served with coarsely mashed white root vegetables, lemon-pickled vegetables and a frothy, creamy dill sauce), we move on to SK Mat & Människor. Evidence of the Michelin star is discreetly on show behind the ‘chef’s counter’. Here, curious diners can follow the craftsmanship of the chefs as they chop and sauté, and pass torches across the backs of freshly caught ocean crayfish.

Photo: Samuel Unéus.

The runner-up in the latest Chef of the Year competition was Martin Moses’ then colleague Ola Wallin, who is now head chef at Upper House Dining in Gothenburg. Either by some kind of magic or perhaps by simple mentorship, a special culture has been created at SK Mat & Människor. Stefan Karlsson, who owns the Götaplats Group of which SK Mat & Människor is part (together with Toso, Mr. P, Bar Himmel and at Park in Gothenburg), was named Chef of the Year back in 1995. He is now chair of the jury. Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip is among the other judges. When this year’s Young Chef of the Year was held, it was won by none other than 23-year-old Anton Kardell, who also works at SK Mat & Människor, with his dish of duck and pike-perch.

Fish and shellfish are particularly close to Martin’s heart. His grandmother in Karlskrona would often serve up meals of fried cod, in all its simplicity. Martin continues this tradition with his own children, although he serves it with stewed spinach. Once you’ve experienced Martin’s touch with fish and ocean crayfish, you are left wanting more. Every year, Martin Moses and his twin brother travel to Lofoten in order to go fishing, although that 50 kg Atlantic halibut has so far eluded them. They never talk about food, however – according to Martin’s brother, the sole purpose of food is to fill one’s stomach. Even so, it was his brother who, at an early stage, kick-started Martin’s competitive nature. They spent their childhoods competing in everything.

Achieving second place in the 2018 Chef of the Year contest was therefore hard for Martin Moses to accept. While on holiday after the competition, he was able to take a step back from his frustration of having ‘lost’ by such a small margin (just one point separated him from the winner), and it was then that he began to plan his entry for the next year. Encouraged by his wife, it was clear that he should seek revenge! The winning dish – ocean crayfish with buckwheat, spruce tips, and grated cured egg yolks – began to take shape in his head. And then came his idea for the dessert – a variation on the ice-cream sandwich, with white mould cheese, malt loaf and apple jelly.

“A normal person would probably have given up after having put in all that work only to lose by just one point. But I can never be satisfied – I know that there will always be a better way of doing things. And, with hindsight, it’s clear that it’s by facing these challenges that you learn new things about yourself. This is something that has made me stronger.”

Although SK Mat & Människor has been KRAV-certified for the past four years, this is not something that features heavily in the restaurant’s marketing.

“Quality is always the most important consideration, and this is our priority. The tastes and experiences we provide are the proof of our commitment and passion in our work, rather than the recognition from any labels or distinctions”, explains Martin. “Having children aged 4 and 7, you care about the state of the world and the effect our consumption has on it.”

According to Martin, the attention that chefs receive nowadays, with their increased public profile, enables them to act as trend-setters. This is something he himself is happy to do thanks to his sustainable approach to local produce, and by taking the bus to and from work each day.

“Sustainability and quality are inseparable from each other. Vegetables that are in season are the best you can get. We really look forward to the asparagus in the spring, and the first strawberries in June – this is when they’re at their very best.”

Martin Moses thinks that it should be possible to charge a little extra when, as during last summer for example, the carrots were extraordinarily sweet and tasty thanks to the warm weather – rather than paying more for organic produce imported from Spain.

Martin believes that Sweden – and Gothenburg, in particular – has a rich larder with ingredients of fabulous quality. He thinks that freshly caught fish and shellfish form an obvious part of Gothenburg’s own larder.

“If we run out of fish in the middle of serving lunch, we just need to make a phone call and we can get more straight away.”

When you work with food, it’s really important to be able to have confidence in your suppliers.

“I think we have found the producers that provide us with the very best. Taste these prawns, for example, that were fresh today”, says Martin as he hands over a plate. “Fresh and juicy – always with the same quality. You always know what you’re getting.”

He also highlights the access to exotic mushrooms, and being able to get newly harvested champignons every day from Östragärde Gård in Sätila.

“The champignons from there are amazing. They’re the size of tennis balls, and with a wonderful texture. Or the herbs from Stenungssund, and the cucumbers from Varberg.”

Almost all the producers Martin works with have their own farm stores, just like Mia who makes her own pots and sells them from her workshop, where customers can linger as long as they like and dream of composing their own culinary creations.

This article was originally published in Magasin Göteborg 2020. Read the whole magazine in Swedish here. Magasin Göteborg is published by the Trade and Industry Group at Göteborg & Co and Business Region Göteborg. The theme of Magasin Göteborg 2020 is ”Sustainable growth – for everyone”.

Text by Ulrica Segersten. Translation by Språkservice. Photos by Samuel Unéus.

We were already doing this in the eleventh century – farming carp on land in combination with growing vegetables. “There’s not really anything new or nerdy about what we’re doing in Floda”, say Matts Johansson and Karin Forsberg from Garveriet.

When the food entrepreneur Matts Johansson first began roasting his own coffee and serving sourdough bread 25 years ago, he experienced several ‘Aha!’ moments with regard to what sustainable food production actually involves.

“From a sustainability perspective, fair and environmentally friendly coffee cultivation is not enough – not if it involves the planned economy. The quality aspect and social sustainability – i.e. that the economic model also works – are also necessary preconditions”, says Matts.

“I think we need to be prepared to pay 10 times as much for our coffee if we are to help coffee production to be both organic and financially viable in the long term.”

Matts needed to understand for himself what the sustainable production of coffee and food really involves, and how this can be communicated without slipping into pedestrian or clichéd sales arguments. Over the years, he has seen how many farmers and cultivators have had to struggle – not least those who try to do things the right way.

“We have many strange expectations of our food: what it should look like, what it should cost, and how it impacts the soil in which it grows. Ideally, we would like to have small dairies producing local cheeses, and small-scale meat farms. But it has become quite clear that much of our knowledge of cultivation, meat cutting and small-scale dairy production is being lost – there is a lack of knowledge-management. At Jernbruket, where we have a local slaughterhouse and the meat is cut (none of the animal is wasted), we need to import the necessary skills and knowledge from Poland and Ukraine.

Matts Johansson is stubborn. Having met with South American coffee growers, local farmers and artisan food producers, who are all struggling to swim against the tide at the same time as there is more and more talk about sustainable production, it is clear that there is a failing somewhere in the system.

“I became really interested in this systemic failure – such as consumers demanding organic tomatoes but not caring that they are imported from Spain. Just 10-20% of our vegetables are produced in Sweden. This is something that will eventually become more apparent when we are no longer able to import vegetables from southern Europe, as a consequence of the coronavirus.”

With regard to vegetables, our level of self-sufficiency is extremely low. As part of its food strategy, the Swedish government has taken the decision to increase small-scale food production. There is, however, a big difference between words on a piece of paper and reality; procurement rules are one thing, but a local lamb producer, whose sheep spend their time grazing outdoors so that they do not need antibiotics, must also be able to support themselves.

“When did you last see a live pig?” Matts Johansson runs his fingers through his greying red beard.

Karin Forsberg finds it strange that, as a mother of three children, she knew so little about the food they were eating at home – that is, until she met Matts.

“I think we have a very blinkered view, and place a huge amount of faith in supermarkets and the state. Do you know how much time a Swedish calf gets to spend with his mother? Two hours!”

“Our cows spend a year in grazing pastures before they are slaughtered”, adds Matts. “There’s a mini-revolution taking place in how we view our food.” Sustainability in how we interact and eat must not be allowed to be a large wet blanket that is draped across people’s lives. According to Matts, we have to begin with the small things. It is easy to lose enthusiasm if we don’t have an in-depth understanding of what we are actually trying to achieve. Both Matts and Karin believe that so-called ‘nudging’ (giving people a gentle push to help them make more sustainable decisions) is the best way to change consumer behaviour.

One example of using nudging to raise awareness is Garveriet’s own courses in sourdough baking, which are held for children and adults.

We need to understand where the flour comes from, and that the way in which we grow our wheat can represent a risk both to nutrient levels and to the very soil in which our food is grown.

As Matts explains, “Monoculture requires the addition of artificial fertilisers and nitrogen, as well as spraying. Around 70 years ago, we chose cereal crops that were best suited to the local area; 20-40 farmers would then take their grain, which had different genetic traits, to the village mill. Each farmer would then leave some of their own seed variety behind. In this way, we developed resistant varieties by a process of natural selection. Monoculture, on the other hand, makes us vulnerable.”

“We need to return to some form of crop rotation. Even cattle can help to rescue our climate, as their grazing disturbs the soil, which is extremely important for bacterial flora and the creation of beneficial conditions for the ecosystems in the soil – the basis of all life. Without worms, the cultivatable layer of soil will become thinner and thinner. Once we’re down to a thickness of 12 cm, we’ll have passed the point of no return”, explains Karin. “The cultivation of oranges in USA, Spain and Portugal has already created so-called salted earth.”

It is not only with regard to vegetables that our self-sufficiency is low. Of the 12 kg of fish that the average Swede eats in one year, 6% comes from Swedish-farmed fish. We import 74% of the fish we eat, and this is mainly from fisheries that are more or less unsustainable. In fish farming on land, which combines vegetable cultivation in a circular system, the farmed fish provide nutrients for the vegetables, and vegetable waste returns nutrients back to the plant-eating fish. The roots of the plants also oxygenate the water.

“What we are doing with Pond Fish & Greens here at Floda is utilising old knowledge. We were already farming carp in combination with growing vegetables back in the Viking Age. And land-farmed fish in combination with rice cultivation has being performed in Asia for a very long time”, explains Matts.

According to Matts, there are great benefits to be gained. The seas must have the chance to recover, and we know that land-farmed fish do not contain any antibiotics or other toxins. It also eliminates the need for transportation, and the fish can be cooked when still fresh. Because they are not predatory, the clarias catfish, which are farmed in large tanks at Garveriet, are well-suited for land-farming.

“It’s clear that sustainability efforts in food production have barely begun. We have realised that we must take a different approach, but we haven’t really decided quite how, and we have certainly not yet begun to take action – apart from the small steps we are taking here in Floda”, says Karin.

“We all have a responsibility to gain as much knowledge as possible. With Garveriet – both the restaurant and the bakery, together with our meetings – we aim to become a forum for knowledge and produce more Aha! moments with regard to sustainability.”

Business models often often lag behind, according to Matts.

“We would love to be able to openly share our knowledge of how we can progress with the business models. Our goal for the future is that Garveriet shall have increased links with research, becoming a centre for sustainability where new solutions for problems can be developed and discussed.”

Having spent a long time checking out various fish stores, and having realised that much of what is being sold is not sustainable, Matts Johansson has taken action and opened a sustainable fish store in Floda. As he says, there’s a mini-revolution taking place.

This article was originally published in Magasin Göteborg 2020. Read the whole magazine in Swedish here. Magasin Göteborg is published by the Trade and Industry Group at Göteborg & Co and Business Region Göteborg. The theme of Magasin Göteborg 2020 is ”Sustainable growth – for everyone”.

Text by Ulrica Segersten. Translation by Språkservice. Photos by Samuel Unéus.

In September 2021 Gothenburg and Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre will be hosting the EAIE (the European Association for International Education) conference, the largest international higher education congress in Europe and the second largest in the world. The conference usually attracts about 6,000 people from universities and higher education institutions in more than 95 countries.

“Following many years of work, we are now able to say that Gothenburg will be hosting EAIE 2021, a welcome announcement at a point when we could all do with something to look forward to. This is a difficult time for the industry and we need some positive news. This major, prestigious event coming to Gothenburg next year is a reminder that we are still working hard to bring in major events in the future,” says Annika Hallman, Director of Göteborg & Co.

The annual conference brings together vice-chancellors, politicians, heads of international departments and others engaged in international education to network and attend workshops and talks.
Run by EAIE, the conference will be hosted by six universities in West Sweden: the University of Gothenburg, Chalmers University of Technology, Jönköping University, the University of Borås, Halmstad University and the University of Skövde.

“Holding the EAIE conference here in West Sweden not only gives us an opportunity for discussion and knowledge exchange on relevant education issues. It also sees us putting our region on the international education map,” says Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg.

As well as talks and workshops, the conference will also feature more than 350 international organisations as exhibitors. The exhibitors will come from about 30 countries as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, the USA, China and New Zealand.

“The value of international relations and exchanges cannot be overestimated and the thousands of conference delegates coming from around the world will open up countless opportunities to forge new contacts. In the long term, it will benefit our entire region thanks to the many new angles gained in the exchange of knowledge, skills and questions between society and academia that is essential for positive societal development,” says Stefan Bengtsson, President and CEO of Chalmers University of Technology.

Conditions within the tourism industry have undergone a fundamental shift, and we feel warmly for all those who have been affected. Rarely has cooperation been as important as it is right now. We take our role as a collaborative platform extremely seriously, and we are working hard to provide as much help as we possibly can. Here, you can find out more about what actions Göteborg & Co is taking in the current situation.

Disposable packaging may be convenient, but it results in large quantities of waste and litter. Now, the city of Gothenburg is following the initiative by Gothenburg Culture Festival to encourage single-use free lunches. Bring your own lunch box and buy your lunch from one of the first restaurants to come on board.

Ulrika Barkman starts the Campaign to buy lunch in your own lunchbox

Several Gothenburg restaurants have joined the scheme encouraging customers to buy lunch in their own lunch boxes, and more outlets are signing up all the time.

“Naturally, we hope that all restaurants and work places will take part,” says Planning Officer Ulrika Barkman from the City of Gothenburg’s Parks and Nature Administration. “Many disposable containers are only used to transport food a few hundred metres to staff break rooms, and customers’ own lunch boxes work just as well.”

Restaurants and workplaces can download free publicity materials from the website to show their support for the scheme, which is being backed by the City of Gothenburg, Göteborg & Co and the shopping organisations.

“Reducing litter is a core part of the City of Gothenburg’s work for a cleaner, more attractive city centre,” continues Ulrika. “A single-use free city is a goal that we can all get behind. This is a simple initiative which is highly topical, and which can have a great effect if we act together.”

Next year, new EU legislation will ban many single-use plastic items, which account for 70 percent of all marine debris. A third of Gothenburg residents say that they would be encouraged to start using reusable containers if they heard about the opportunity to do so at shops and restaurants, according to an interview survey carried out by Sustainable Waste and Water at the City of Gothenburg.

The 2020 Gothenburg Culture Festival will introduce a deposit system for food containers, and the festival plans to be single-use free next year. Find out more about how Sweden’s biggest city festival will become single-use free: https://www.goteborg.com/en/halla-dar-filip-eklund/

Quick facts:

  • Bringing your own lunch box or cup when buying take-away food and drinks from cafés and restaurants is absolutely OK. There are no rules against this.
  • One in three Swedes aged 18 to 29 buys food, drinks or snacks daily or several times a week.
  • Eight out of ten of these believe that single-use plastic is a major environmental problem.
  • Six out of ten say that they dispose of their used packaging in the nearest rubbish bin.
  • Each Gothenburg resident generates 400 kg of waste each year. One third of this is packaging, and the proportion is rising.
  • If you buy takeaway food in your own reusable container twice a week you will reduce your waste by an average of 90 single-use containers.

(Sources: The Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, the Swedish Food Agency and Sustainable Waste and Water, the City of Gothenburg.)

For the whole of 2020 Gothenburg will be “European Capital of Smart Tourism” and will mark the year with a wide range of activities. On Friday, Göteborg & Co invited the visitor industry, businesses, the city and academia to share in the task of making Gothenburg an even smarter tourist destination.

“Gothenburg has been given a fantastic opportunity to drive the sustainable development of smart tourism cities in Europe. We intend to carry the title proudly with our stakeholders and showcase our strengths as a destination,” says Peter Grönberg, CEO of Göteborg & Co.

The “European Capital of Smart Tourism” competition was set up by the European Commission to reward cities that set an example in smart, innovative and inclusive tourism solutions. Back in August, Gothenburg was chosen as one of two winning cities for 2020. The city that is appointed as the capital must show strong performance in four categories: accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation and cultural heritage/creativity. In its competition entry, Gothenburg highlighted its strengths in all four categories and underlined its ambition to share its knowledge and experience with other destinations.

Around 40 representatives of the city, academia and the business community gathered on Friday for a kick-off meeting for the year as capital of smart tourism. The aim is to get as many people as possible to help make this year an engine of development for the destination.

“It is genuinely inspiring that we are continuing to develop our fantastic city sustainably together,” says Helena Wiberg of Swedavia, who was present at the meeting.

Gothenburg has been invited by the European Commission to exhibit at a variety of trade fairs and conferences in Europe during the year. A range of activities will also take place on home ground, which Gothenburg will host together with various partners.

“There is a real commitment here to make Gothenburg an even better city and destination. We will put this enthusiasm to good use in this project. Working closely with our stakeholders, we will go from smart to even smarter this year,” says Peter Grönberg.

About the prize:

The European Commission awards the title of “European Capital of Smart Tourism” to two European cities at a time. The winning cities must stand out from the competition by developing tourism in smart, innovative and inclusive ways. Helsinki and Lyon held the title in 2019, and in 2020 it is the turn of Gothenburg and Malaga to take over the role of smart capital.

The competition is open to cities in the EU with a population of over 100,000. In EU countries that do not have such large cities, the largest city may enter.

By rewarding smart destinations, the EU aims to promote tourism development that is innovative, multicultural and inclusive. It also aims to highlight how tourism can contribute to sustainable development.

For more information contact: Helena Lindqvist, project manager at Göteborg & Co helena.lindqvist@goteborg.com

During the weekend of 14–15 December an initiative that is part of Christmas City Gothenburg gave locals a chance to sit down and get to know a stranger at the Central Station. To break the ice and pave the way for stimulating conversations, they were given specially prepared questions to ask each other.

Gbg Talks at Gothenburg Central Station. Photo: Dear Studio/Mattias Vogel.

To encourage residents of Gothenburg to join in and talk to each other, several meetings between strangers were filmed beforehand. To watch the subtitled videos, check out: goteborg.com/gbgtalks 

“Our aim is to get more people to discover and choose Gothenburg, and to help make Gothenburg a sustainable destination in every way. We are convinced that meaningful conversations lead to greater tolerance and understanding of each other,” says Peter Grönberg, CEO of Göteborg & Co.

Gbg Talks puts the emphasis on human encounters and also aims to promote organisations that work with such issues, such as Språkvän Göteborg (language mentoring), Stadsmissionen (Gothenburg City Mission), Kulturkompis (Culture Buddies) and Kompis Sverige (Buddy Sweden).

Christmas City Gothenburg is now in its 16th successive year and runs from 15 November to 6 January. A wide range of activities, from illuminations to Christmas markets, concerts, gift shopping and Christmas at Liseberg, attract residents of Gothenburg and visitors to the city during November and December.

Gothenburg is at the top among the world’s most sustainable cities for the fourth year in a row according to the Global Destination Sustainability Index 2019. This was revealed on Wednesday at ICCA World congress in Houston.

Annika Hallman recieved the prize from Guy Bigwood, GDSI, and James Reese, ICCA. Photo: Buller

 

The GDSI was launched by MCI-Group together with the international organisation ICCA. On Wednesday October 30thAnnika Hallman, Director at Gothenburg Convention Bureau, was able to accept the award on behalf of Gothenburg:

“In recent years, Gothenburg has taken a leading role and inspired other destinations to become more sustainable. We have lectured and received study visits from other cities and used our top position to drive the development towards a more sustainable meeting industry, as well as strengthening Gothenburg’s profile as a leading congress and convention destination”, says Annika Hallman.

The ranking was made for the first time in 2016 and this year the interest has been greater than ever, and the level of performance has improved. More than 50 cities and destinations participated and among the newcomers this year are Denver, Brisbane and Lyon. The top three cities were Gothenburg followed by Copenhagen and Zurich.

Another achievement was when Gothenburg recently was appointed European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 by the European Commission. Here, too, the city’s work on sustainability is a weighty reason and Gothenburg was also awarded the special award in the category of sustainability.

“More and more cities are looking at Gothenburg and next year there will be a major focus on how to work to become smarter in areas such as digitalization, accessibility, culture and sustainability”, says Peter Grönberg CEO of Göteborg & Co.

GDSI measures all elements of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. But to gain a high ranking, it is not enough just to involve the hospitality trade, with facilities and hotels; the city as a whole must also be engaged in sustainability issues.

The cities are assessed based on several criteria: such as how effectively the city recycles and disposes of waste, environmental certification of hotels and restaurants, emissions of greenhouse gases, accessibility, the traffic situation, rental bike systems and whether both public and private stakeholders have sustainability strategies in place.

To find out more about the survey and the results for all cities involved, please see: http://gds-index.com/

Gothenburg is the most hospitable city in Europe! Christina Bonnevier from Gothenburg Tourist Centre, which is part of Göteborg & Co, recently accepted the ECM TIC Hostmanship Award 2019 in Ghent, Belgium. The award recognises that she is the best in Europe at greeting visitors.

Christina Bonnevier. Photo: Peter Kvarnström/Göteborg & Co.

“I think this competition is brilliant because it focuses on emotional human values in our encounters with visitors. It feels absolutely fantastic and it’s a great honour to win,” says Christina Bonnevier.

Christina was nominated for the award by her manager, Annelie Karlsson. In her nomination, Annelie Karlsson stressed that working in a tourist centre is a way of life and makes you more aware of what is happening in the city and who comes to visit it. The most significant encounters do not always happen in the tourist centre itself. One such encounter took place in Heden car park one morning, and also played a part in Christina’s nomination.

“I met a foreign family who were here on a visit, and they did not have a credit card that would work in the ticket machine. They were on their way to a meeting and were very short of time. I offered to pay their half-day ticket, but they were reluctant as they wanted to pay me back as soon as possible. I told them they could come to the tourist centre and ask for me, which they did later that day. They were very grateful and relieved,” says Christina.

As well as being the best tourist adviser in Europe, Christina Bonnevier is also an authorised city guide and speaks five languages ​​fluently: Swedish, Danish, English, Spanish and French. Her job also involves authorising city guides and assisting with the city’s tourism site, goteborg.com.

Göteborg & Co invests in personal service by operating the city’s tourist centres, which welcome around 400,000 visitors each year. The company also invests in the website, goteborg.com, which is growing steadily and attracts almost three million unique visitors annually. Good hospitality involves a combination of digital tools and human encounters, which together ensure the best possible results. As a result of good hostmanship these visitors become valuable ambassadors for Gothenburg.

The TIC Hostmanship Award is presented by the ECM European Cities Marketing organisation, which is made up of members from European tourism organisations. To win the award as Europe’s best tourist adviser, a nomination is first required from one’s manager, and the winner is then selected by the management of TIC Expert Group, which is made up of representatives from ten cities. The award was presented in Ghent on October 24, and Christina Bonnevier was there to receive it.

Gothenburg, Sweden, was awarded The European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 at a ceremony in Helsinki on 9 October. The title is awarded by The European Commission aiming at rewarding cities with the smartest, most innovative and inclusive approaches to tourism development. “This marks the start of a new era for Gothenburg. We are going from smart to smarter, and we intend to be a motor for the entire EU”, said the city’s representative Peter Grönberg.

Peter Grönberg, CEO of Göteborg & Co and the Lord Mayor of Gothenburg Anneli Rhedin are happy to receive the award in Helsinki.

35 cities from 17 EU-countries took part in the competition that evaluates candidates from four categories: sustainability, accessibility, digitalisation and culture & creativity. Ten was selected for the final presentation in Helsinki.

In the entry for The European Capital of Smart Tourism 2020 award, Gothenburg focused on strengths in all four categories and on being ready to share best practices and learnings with other destinations.

Gothenburg is in the digital frontline, with high connectivity and a large number of tech companies. Also, the city is a leader in sustainability, with a number one ranking in the Global Destination Sustainability Index.

– As Lord Mayor of Gothenburg, it is very rewarding to be here in Helsinki to discuss Gothenburg as a smart destination. We are very proud of our city and we work hard to win even more people’s confidence to visit us, said Anneli Rhedin, Lord Mayor of Gothenburg.

– This is a recognition to all the work and creativity that our local partners put in when it comes to making Gothenburg a smart destination. We know that investing in sustainability, accessibility, digitalisation, culture and creativity is wise. With the help from the title, we will be an even stronger ambassador for this mindset, said Peter Grönberg, CEO of Göteborg & Co, the destination management organisation of Gothenburg.

Outtake from Gothenburg’s entry:

Being smart makes what is good even better. Our pocket-sized metropolis has for 400 years gathered people who believe in international and cultural exchange. To anyone who perceive “smart” as a tech term we wish to show another side: a side filled with warmth, inclusiveness and human values. Gothenburg is a sustainable city open to the world.

Two of Sweden’s biggest private employers are located in Gothenburg – Volvo Cars and Volvo Group. Roughly a quarter of a million people in the Gothenburg region depend on these two companies for their livelihood, either directly or indirectly.

Paul Welander in front of a vintage Volvo P 1800

“A wide spectrum of businesses depend on our presence in the city, from the smallest hot dog stand to a large part of the service sector,” says Paul Welander, Senior Vice President at Volvo Cars.

In light of this, he finds it disturbing when some people glibly suggest that the automotive industry will disappear within a decade.

“What does the automotive industry contribute to society? We create opportunities for everybody to get around and have more freedom. Moreover, our vehicles are constantly being developed to become more sustainable and more integrated with other transport solutions,” he says.

He adds that in future, the automotive industry needs to get more involved in Gothenburg’s development as a city.

“As a company, we want to have a higher purpose and give back to society. We’re not just here to earn money; we want to improve safety. We have a vision that nobody will be seriously injured in a Volvo vehicle in 2020. When we invented the three-point seat belt, we made the design free for other automotive manufacturers to use. The same philosophy applies to many of our safety solutions.”

Volvo Cars made headlines by declaring that 50% of its sold cars would be all-electric by 2025, and it’s important to meet this target.

“It’s hard to predict how self-driving and connected vehicles will impact on people’s time, but we hope to be able to give back a week of quality time per year by 2025. This is equivalent to the time drivers typically spend in tailbacks today.

“We all depend on smooth-running infrastructure and mobility, and efficient transport is necessary to attract more outside investment. This is especially true in a city with canals and trams like Gothenburg. We must think bigger in terms of social economy.”

Paul’s background is in polymer engineering, but he has worked most of his career in the automotive industry.

“I love the core of this culture, that people are our central focus and that we offer products that are relevant to everyone.”

He remembers one Friday night when he and his wife had parked outside a restaurant in a newly launched Volvo XC60. A man came up and spoke to them.

“He asked if I liked the car. I said that I certainly did. ‘So do I, because I built it,’ said the guy, smiling proudly.”

Paul doesn’t think this kind of pride could have been created anywhere else.

“If Volvo Cars had been headquartered in Stockholm, we’d have been a different company. Our history, with the textile industry that created SKF, which in turn created Volvo, could only happen here. And with the city’s harbour and shipyards, Volvo and Gothenburg are constantly strengthening each other.”

Paul gives us a tour of the Volvo Museum. It’s an exciting journey through Sweden’s industrial history and social development with a large dose of nostalgia. Plans are underway to make this history more accessible to everyone visiting Gothenburg. Discussions are in progress about creating an activity and experience centre next to Liseberg, Sweden’s largest amusement park, which is currently investing in a big new family hotel and water park.

Liseberg’s CEO Andreas Andersen is very positive to these plans.

“The synergy is clear for all three players: Gothenburg, Volvo and Liseberg. From a national perspective, Liseberg is a leading brand – one of Sweden’s top five – but internationally, Volvo has a stronger brand than either Liseberg or Gothenburg. When I’m abroad I sometimes get asked if I’m from Volvo city,” he says.

Copyright: Ulrica Segersten (text), Samuel Unéus (photo)

This article is an excerpt from “Magasin Göteborg”. To read the entire Magazine (in Swedish) click here.

Anna Hylander, Project Manager Göteborg & Co Möten/Gothenburg Convention Bureau. Photo: Linda Nordberg/Göteborg & Co

Anna Hylander is one of the people who was closely involved in preparations for the Associations World Congress & Expo (AWC) and was also at the congress, when almost 500 international visitors gathered at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre in April. The congress was backed by the Association of Association Executives (AAE).

Hi Anna, how did the event work out?
“Really well, nearly 500 delegates from all over the world took part and we got excellent feedback afterwards.”

What was the most enjoyable part of the process?
“All the international contacts and making plans to host the congress. Linking together all the different contributors, from politicians and people in research and the visitor industry, to specially invited guests and speakers, and of course the association’s team.
“It was also good to be able to show how a meeting can be organised sustainably, getting environmental certification for the entire congress and sharing our knowledge by contributing local expertise to the programme.”

Gothenburg Convention Bureau is not usually involved in organising meetings, why was this the case for AWC?
“Yes, that’s right. Normally we provide support during all the stages that are needed to bring a congress to Gothenburg. That can involve strategies, application documents, marketing materials, valuable contacts in the city, advice and information.
“But AWC was a strategic initiative that also required active hosting on our part. It is a step in raising awareness of Gothenburg as a meeting destination and showing off the city to the people who decide where international congresses are held. And we were successful in that.”

What was the best part of the congress?
“The positive feedback about the programme. And that we managed to get prominent local figures as speakers, for example from Volvo Car Group and Nobel Media. It also gave us the chance to showcase local innovations, in medical technology and bio-printing for example, and to feature choir singing as a link to the European Choir Games.
“There were already a lot of people in the city when AWC began, as it coincided with the end of EuroHorse. So the city was buzzing with lots of activity when the delegates got here.”

How does it feel now it’s all over?
“Brilliant! Everyone is so pleased with the experience and that we hosted it successfully. The food was great and the staff were praised by everyone. Especially at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre / Gothia Towers and when the celebrity chefs turned up and surprised everyone at the congress dinner at Kajskjul 8 on behalf of Gothenburg Restaurant Association and ‘Taste of Gothenburg’.”
“There were so many delegates who wanted to learn more about Gothenburg and stayed an extra day to join the Destination Day we organised, with visits to AstraZeneca in Mölndal, Lindholmen Science Park and the new centre for artificial intelligence.”

What do you hope visitors took home from the congress?
“Naturally I hope they feel that it was the best programme ever. I also hope they got a positive image of Gothenburg as a sustainable meeting destination and feel inspired to come to future meetings and congresses, whether they are held here or somewhere else in the world. But of course I hope that organisers see us as a natural choice for upcoming congresses.”