Lonely? Now you can call a random Swede ... to hear how great Sweden is

Scheme intended to show what's unique about Nordic country, how nice its people are and how open it is receives 13,000 calls in first week, with calls assigned randomly to one of 5,000 participants

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 April, 2016, 12:12pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2016, 12:26pm

Sweden has created a national phone line allowing anyone in the world to call and chat to a random Swedish resident.

The initiative by the Swedish Tourist Association (STA) is intended to mark the country's 250th anniversary of abolishing censorship.

Around 5,000 Swedes have signed up to receive calls from people around the world to talk about their country.

When anyone calls the Swedish number, a telephone switchboard will connect them at random to someone in the country. All the calls are recorded so, if someone is harassed, they can report the call and the phone number will be blocked.

So far, more than 13,000 calls have been made since the hotline launched last week and feedback has been very positive, according to the STA.

"Everyone likes it," a spokesperson for the STA says. "[They] especially like the idea that they, as Swedish citizens, may talk about their Sweden."

Travel and tourism is an important part of Sweden's economy. In 2014, tourism made up 2.4 per cent of the country's economy and directly contributed 93.9 billion Swedish Krona (US$11.5 billion), according to a report by the World Travel & Tourism Council.

"Tourism is important for Sweden, it provides many job opportunities," the spokesperson added. "We want to showcase our unique nature and all the nice people who live here. But we also want to show that we are an open country with free values."

Anyone who feels the need to dial a Swede can use +46 771 793 336 to make a call, although it will be charged as an international phone call by the service provider.