Sweden’s plan to build a camel park in its second-largest city, Gothenburg, has come under scrutiny from residents, the city's main newspaper Goteborgs-Posten reported.
The Camel Centre, which is estimated to cost SEK1.5 million ($168,841) for construction, is being built to create jobs and integrate immigrants into the community.
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Some citizens, however, argue that the idea is a waste of money. “This is so stupid. Riding camels is what you have to do as a tourist abroad when there is nothing else to do. People will ride once and never return. It will never work in reality,” local business Bert Karlsson says.
Maria Lexhagen, a tourism researcher at Mid Sweden University, is also sceptical. “I do not see any great demand for camels in Sweden. It will take a lot for something like this to succeed and do well financially.”
Expressing concerns over the project, which would be located in the suburb of Angered, Karlsson added that “The people [making such decisions] do not know what they are doing. They are not entrepreneurs. The municipality just loves the word 'integration' in projects.”
“You say the word integration, and you can get a lot of money anytime,” he argues. “This should be stopped before it even starts”
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The chairman of the Social Resource Committee, which donated SEK500,000 ($56,280) to the centre last year, believes in the prospects of its creation. “We thought it was an exciting integration project which could also attract visitors to Angered. It was also promising because it could lead to jobs,” Marina Johansson told the Swedish newspaper.
“If we grant money for something that does not succeed, it's something we can learn from. One should also remember that the municipality has the opportunity to request a refund if they are not utilised as we intended,” she added.
Social Resource Committee Manager Lena Solo, defended the project. "I'm no expert on camels, but I thought this could lead to people getting jobs, especially Somalis who are far outside the labour market. I think it's worth testing. Maybe I am naive, but I stand by the decision.”