When you meet Aljoša Lagumdžija, who is the head of the Södertalje Agency, you are convinced that Södertälje will not "miss the train" when it comes to growing bicycle tourism. The visitor destinations in and around the city are many, the cycling infrastructure is well developed and an interesting target group has been identified on the other side of the Baltic Sea.
How far have you come in terms of infrastructure and information for bicycle travel?
We have come a long way in the way that we can offer material on, for example, visitor destinations and routes that will increase the value of the visit. The information should make it easier for the visitor, explain what paths to take and so on. We work with Sweden by Bike to highlight and realize the opportunities that exist within cycling trips in the Södertälje area, to get help with themating and presenting what we have in a positive way.
Can you suggest some nice excursion destinations nearby?
There is really a lot to choose from, and that is the great advantage of Södertälje. We have a wide mix of visitor destinations; nature, attractions for families with children like Tom Tits Experiment, we have the open air museum Torekällberget which shows how the city looked in the 19th century, the steamship Ejdern which has tours to the Viking city of Birka and much, much more. Then, multiculturalism is another strength in Södertälje, with food from all over the world.
What do you see the benefits of bicycle tourism?
Bicycle tourism is a special development area for us. In recent years, my colleagues and I have taken care of more and more cycling tourists, and we simply want to be involved when it happens so that we do not "miss the train". When it comes to this type of tourism, Stockholm is often either the start of a trip or the final destination. In relation to the capital, we have a strategic location, if you go south you pass Södertälje, whether you want to or not, and we will use that. You can come by bicycle, by train or via the waterways.
Södertälje is a little extra for Finnish visitors in its marketing. Why?
Södertälje has long had many inhabitants of Finnish origin. Many came here to work on, among other things, Scania and Astra in the 1960s and 1970s. Our idea of investing in Finnish tourists as a target group is that many have a connection to the city and want to come here again for nostalgic reasons. When we are at a fair in Helsinki, people may come out saying that "oh, I was born in Södertälje" and that they have feelings for the city. Various measurements show that Finns are high when it comes to foreign visitors. Then there is a nearby market with people who have relatively good money. We carry out the investment together with the local visitor industry.