Malmö: Sweden’s Sustainable Success Story

Since the unveiling of Öresund Bridge in 2000, Malmö has leveraged its improved accessibility by making the city a sustainable and attractive proposition to business and leisure travellers alike

In 2017, Malmö Turism became the first Swedish tourism organisation to achieve ISO certification 20121; an accreditation that not only affirms the entity’s credentials but that affirm the wider city’s ongoing and unwavering dedication to sustainability.

As part of the city’s goal, Malmö Turism has been systematically working with the notion of sustainability for a number of years leading up to the early-2017 achievement; proving consistently that it is looking to improve the region in a socially and environmentally responsible way, while similarly encouraging partners to do the same.

A key driving force within this strategy was Malmö Convention Bureau. Incepting in 1999, it is the city’s official and public tourism organisation focusing on leisure travel, business travel, meetings, conferences, congresses and events. And few bodies have been instrumental in facilitating Malmö’s sustainable growth in recent times.

“Malmö Convention Bureau acts as a neutral partner during the arrangement and hosting of a congress or event in Malmö,” introduces Project Manager, Camilla Ekberg. “We open doors on your behalf and our expertise, contacts and services are free of charge. This all ensures that you get a successful event in Malmö.”

Malmö Convention Bureau works closely with industry partners to promote Malmö and “it is together with them that we best can show Malmö's possibilities”, Ekberg continues. “Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden and the home to more than 320,000 people with roots in more 174 countries, speaking 150 different languages. 

“To all, we in Malmö want to offer a cosy and vibrant atmosphere with world-class, modern and unique venues, arenas and facilities.”

Sustainable and Successful

·         Malmö comprises 33 hotels and more than 4,800 hotel rooms. 92 percent of these hotels are sustainable/eco-certified

·         Malmö  was Sweden’s first fair trade city!

·         Malmö Convention Bureau was Sweden´s first ISO 20121 certified local tourism organisation

·         A total of three restaurants in Malmö have been honoured with Michelin stars

·         Malmö is a compact cycling-friendly city with more than 500 kilometres of cycle paths within the city

·         Malmö is ranked ninth in the GDS (Global Destination Sustainability)-index

·         The 2016 European Commission awarded Malmö with the “Best Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning Award”

EME Outlook (EME): Since inception, how has the Malmö Convention Bureau developed and progressed in terms of its key objectives and the messages it tries to get across?

Camilla Ekberg (CE): Our focus is more on the international market now then it was in the beginning, while internally we have also grown significantly in terms of employee numbers. We now have a stronger focus on institutions like Malmö University and Lund University to generate a strong focus on scientific congresses especially.

Above all though, our strongest focus remains on sustainability, both in terms of acquiring meetings along this theme, but also through practical things like eliminating giveaways and printed materials, and making public transportation more efficient. This all contributed to Malmö Turism receiving ISO 20121certification in 2017.

EME: To this end, how would you say Malmö has developed in recent years as a business travel hub and what are the key reasons behind its growing appeal?

CE: Malmö has transformed from an industrial city into a young, vibrant, dynamic and knowledge-based city. The population now has an average age of less than 35 years. Important factors to this transformation include the Öresund Bridge which connects Sweden with Denmark, and the opening of Malmö University. Having Copenhagen airport just 12 minutes away on the train makes Malmö easy to reach from all around the world.

Infrastructure has also been a key factor through projects like Hyllie, and various meetings and events hosted at Malmö Arena, Malmömässan Exhibition & Congress Centre, and two hotels.

The opening of Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live - both located right in the city centre - have also contributed to the growing international meeting industry of Malmö and during the course of three years we have increased overall hotel capacity by 25 percent.

EME: Taking a more general industry stance, how would you evaluate the tourism sector in Malmö now compared to its condition when the Convention Bureau began?

CE: Since The Öresund Bridge opened (in 2000) tourism to Malmö has increased a lot, both when it comes to overnight stays and day visitors. The tourism turnover has developed in a positive way for Malmö. Since 2000, several new venues, arenas, congress hall and hotels have opened in Malmö.

We have noticed a higher demand for city tourism and have seen a higher number of international meetings and congresses, visitors, tourists and events grace the city.

The tourism industry in general offers more sustainable products and services and several of our partners are working within the confines of CSR as we know that sustainability is becoming an important factor in the choice of locations for conventions and international corporate meetings.

EME: What is in store for Malmö over the course of 2018 and beyond to continue the good work already commenced and to enhance its reputation as a tourism and business travel hub further in the future?

CE: 2017 events included Nordic Game, Nordea Masters, World Wind Energy Conference, 8th European Symposium on Plant Lipids, 6th FFN Global Congress 2017, DreamHack Masters, Near Surface Geoscience Conference & Exhibition 2017, Nordic Life Science Days, European Society of Neuroradiology, Urban Green Infrastructure – Connecting People, and Nature for Sustainable Cities. Meanwhile, in 2018, upcoming events include Parabere Forum 2018, Clean Energy Ministerial 2018 Malmø/Copenhagen, 36th Annual Meeting – ESPID, Fehmarnbelt Days 2018, European Cities Marketing International Conference & General Assembly 2018, International Congress of Group Psychotherapy, and The European Sport Management Conference 2018.

In terms of new facilities, the new quality hotel, The Mill will open in 2019, as will StayAt. Meanwhile, Malmö Arena Hotel is building a new conference centre and adding 100 hotel rooms.

Business-wise IKEA will open their own hotel in Malmö -Hyllie, where IKEA´s head office, IKANO Bank and IKANO real estate is located.

And finally, from a tourism perspective, Malmö now offers a number of Infopoints that provide basic tourist information for visitors in the form of brochures, maps and other information. We use social media to communicate with our visitors and tourists having closed down the tourist information centre in 2017.

EME: Finally, looking forward, what progress and development do you hope and expect to see, both in regards to the Malmö Convention Bureau as an entity, and in regards to the business travel industry in Malmö as a whole?

CE: In the coming years, the Convention Bureau will have hopefully grown in employee numbers; we will be higher up the ICCA and GDS-index rankings; we will have even higher hotel occupancy in the city; we will enjoy even stronger collaboration and connectivity with Copenhagen; and most importantly, Malmö will have become even more sustainable and attractive as a destination for meetings, events and tourism.