Have you spoken to a Swede lately? No, not the root vegetable also known as a rutabaga. A real, honest-to-goodness Swede, as in a resident of Sweden.
To celebrate the 250th anniversary of abolishing censorship – Sweden was 1st in the world to do so, the Swedish Tourist Association has debuted “The Swedish Number.”
Now anyone around the world can call +46771 793 336 (+46771 Sweden) and speak to a local Swede about pretty much anything, ranging from the Northern Lights to how to assemble your IKEA furniture, and everything else in between.
Travel website Skift reports that since the launch of The Swedish Number 06APR, more than 2,300 calls have been made, and the top 5 countries calling in to speak to a local Swede are: Turkey (68%); the U.S. (20%); U.K. (6%); Germany and Austria (2% each). Come on Canada, call a Swede!
Basically, anyone with a phone can dial the number and be connected to a random Swede who has signed up to be a part of this program. It’s great for potential visitors, who can get authentic information on what to expect.
To pull this off, the Swedish Tourist Association created one of the world’s largest switchboards to support any and all incoming calls 24 hr. a day, 7 days a wk.
Local ambassadors register on a cloud-based contact centre that connects all the calls, and the switchboard was designed to randomly choose one of the locals for each call that comes in.
Positioning locals as tourism ambassadors comes at a time when many countries, especially those in Europe, are considering tightening their borders, given recent terrorist attacks
“In troubled times, many countries try and limit communication between people, but we want to do just the opposite,” Magnus Ling, CEO of the Swedish Tourist Association said in a statement.
“So instead, we are making Sweden the 1st country in the world with its own phone number and giving our fellow Swedes the opportunity to answer the calls, express themselves, and share their views, whatever they might be. In doing so we want to show the real Sweden — a unique country worth visiting with the right of public access, sustainable tourism and a rich cultural heritage. With The Swedish Number, our goal is to create more pride and knowledge about Sweden, both nationally and internationally.”
You can watch a video about ‘the Swedish number’ here.