Umeå’s hospitality industry is counting on residents to “stay-cation” this summer, to make up for the lack of tourists from abroad.
ÅLIDHEM – Västerbotten tourism officials said today that they are adopting new strategies to try to get visitors this spring and summer, as the national government has extended the entry ban from other countries, and particularly Norway and Finland, to June 15, in order to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Västerbotten County says that a survey of almost 300 companies in the hospitality industry showed great concern for their economic well-being this summer. Visitors from Norway make up half of Västerbotten’s overnight tourists, and Umeå’s hotels, restaurants, and stores depend in part on customers who take the ferry from Finland.
“The concepts that we are now embracing are stay-cations,” regional tourism manager Annika Sandström told SVT, referring to local residents who take holidays close to home. “Within two hours radius, there is so much to discover,” she said. Last week, national health officials recommended that Swedish residents do not travel further than two hours by car into the countryside for holidays, because smaller rural health centers could be overwhelmed by a coronavirus outbreak.
The two-hour drive radius from Umeå takes a traveler as far as Skellefteå north along the coast, to Åmsele up the Vindel River to the northwest, through Granö and almost to Lycksele along the Ume River, to Fredrika going due west to the mountains, and just past Örnsköldsvik southwards down the coast. By ferry, the two-hour radius includes the island of Holmön.
Meanwhile, Västerbotten and Umeå are both offering tourism-related businesses financial support to keep them alive until the pandemic is over. “We are constantly looking for new solutions,” Sandström says. “We are developing a concept which gently and respectfully attracts and invites visitors from nearby areas.”
Tourist destinations have also turned to alternative activities. Västerbottens Museum has been working with Vän i Umeå’s We Stick Together quilting project, as well as building a separate archive of stories by local residents, in order to memorialize the pandemic in Umeå.
More summer music events in Umeå have been cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Hugely popular rock band The Ark was planning to play at Umeå Energi Arena on August 20 along with singer-songwriter Miss Li. The musicians announced today that they were postponing this concert until August 20, 2021 because of the pandemic. Tickets already purchased for 2020 will be valid for the 2021 concert, they said.
Flamingokvintetten, a dance band, from near Gothenburg, which has been in existence since 1960, also said today it is postponing its summer “Farewell Tour” until the autumn. The musicians are now planning to play at Umeå Folkets Hus on October 3. “It definitely feels a little disappointing, when you’re excited to go and meet your fans,” and then a concert is cancelled, singer Hasse Carlsson told Sveriges Radio.
Norrlandsoperan is planning to give outdoor sing-along concerts for pre-schoolers next week.
Norrlandsoperan announced today that next week, four musicians from its symphony, along with singer Anna Jakobsson, will perform at 10 pre-schools in Umeå for children from three to five years of age. The ensemble is calling itself the “Fence Orchestra”, because it will be playing outside of the fences that encircle pre-school play yards.
“Preschools quickly got hooked on this idea,” opera producer Markus Falck says. “It’s of course nice to be able to offer performances for the children, even if they cannot come to our stage.” Norrlandsoperan has been almost entirely closed since the coronavirus crisis began in Umeå.
Norrlandsoperan has already been offering coronavirus-safe “home delivery” of dance performances through people’s windows throughout the pandemic.
Coronavirus statistics in the region are almost unchanged since yesterday.
Four more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Västerbotten in the past 24 hours, regional officials said today, as their mass testing campaign continues. Two more are in the hospital, for a total of 11. The number in intensive care, and the full death toll, remain at four and 19, respectively. These statistics are consistent with the observation by various experts that the virus’ burden on Umeå’s health care system remains stable.
A 17-year-old boy has been convicted of illegal threats and assault of four young people at Vasaplan in January.
A 17-year-old boy was sentenced to community service and 27 000 SEK in fines today, for an incident that occurred near the Vasaplan bus station in early January. He threatened four young people with a “shot to the forehead”, and then assaulted them so that they would keep quiet about the threats, prosecutors said. The assailant claimed that the young people had called him racist and derogatory names.
Prosecutors based their case on surveillance films and the witness testimonies of the victims. The assailant was also convicted of threatening to rape a female leader of a youth group.