In Finland, the Government focuses on new tourism segments

Tourism in Finland is a sector which is having an adjustment phase. In 2016, the number of international tourism arrivals passed 2.5 million, dropping from the record of 4.6mn in 2012. The growth can be partially attributable to the number of events of global importance which held in the Country during that year: Helsinki was World Capital of Design, Finland hosted the “2012 Finlandia Trophy” (ice figure skating competition), the European Championship of Athletics and the World Championship of Hockey. The main origin market of tourism flows is Russia, even if dropping in overnights (-11%). As reported by Visit Finland, an interesting growth was registered in the Chinese tourists segment: their overnights, in fact, increased by 29% in 2016. The following markets are Spain (+18%) and the USA (+14%).

According to the “Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2017” of the World Travel & Tourism Council, in 2016 tourism generated a direct contribution to the Country’s GDP of 4.3bn euros, namely 2% of GDP. The WTTC expects this to grow up to represent its 2,2% in 2027. The total contribution, including the indirect and induced ones, was 18.9bn euros, namely 8,8% of GDP. The report underlines how the tourism sector of the Country is particularly characterised by national tourism flows. In fact, in 2016, the domestic tourism expense represented 77,1% of the direct contribution to the Travel & Tourism industry.

The World Economic Forum, in its “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017”, ranks Finland 33rd for tourism competitiveness, out of 136 analysed Countries. The strong points of the destination are the environmental sustainability (5th), ground and port infrastructure (24th), air transport infrastructure (30th) and international openness (31st). Weaker points are the minor priority that the Government dedicated to the Travel & Tourism industry (86th) and the price competitiveness (112th ).

In 2015, the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment published a new tourism strategy, called “Rodmap for Growth and Renewal in Finnish Tourism for 2015-2025”. The strategy aims to enhance the Country’s appeal as a tourism destination, through a better cooperation between tourism centres and networks of enterprises operating in the sector. Some of the planned operations for the 2015-2018 period, financed by the Ministry itself, are “Finrelax”, which aims to position Finland as a Country for wellness tourism and “Finland stopover”, to make it popular for short stays. Further measures include the increase of air routes from and to Asian regions through the “Air Strategy to 2030”, the promotion of activities linked to nature and adventure tourism with the “Finland’s Strategy for the Arctic Region” and the development of the first “Strategy for Food Tourism in Finland”.

The Finnish Government, which is part of the intergovernmental forum named Arctic Council, proposed a collaboration deal to the Norwegian Government, to build an artic rail route to connect these Countries to the rest of Europe.

Finland proves to be a Country taking care of its folk traditions. Maybe this is one of the reasons why there are several particular events but, as reported by Visit Finland, with the capability of attracting tourism flows. Among these, there is the world championship of wife carrying, of mobile phone throwing, of winter swimming and of mud football. In addition, in every period of the year the local bodies organise the “Viking Dinner” in Iloranta, dedicated to tourists who want to experience a timeless experience. There are also many music festivals: Pori Jazz Festival, Ilosaarirock Flow Festival, Club Color Festival and Konemetsä Festival are just some of them. In addition, the Savonlinna Opera Festival, born in 1900 and celebrated in Saint Olaf castle, lasts an entire month and hosts 60.000 people every year, with the participation of theatre companies from every part of the world.

Finland is a safe destination. Even if the UK Foreign Travel Advice states that attention should be paid to possible threats deriving from international terrorism, the Country is 1st as safest in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. Its Capital Helsinki is also among the 10 most liveable cities in the world.

At Twissen we observed that Finland has an interesting potential to become a destination characterised by more constant tourism flows. The development of new tourism products, which can lead to a specialisation of the offer, is useful to attract new market segments.

Author: Francesco Redi
President and founder at Twissen. Manager in Local Development, Tourism Policies,  EU Funds. He cooperates with several European universities, public bodies, development agencies, DMOs and enterprises.

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