Following Finland’s record-breaking year for international tourism in 2017, the Nordic country’s travel industry is continuing to grow and the outlook for the future is very positive.
Key trends in 2017 saw the number of nights spent by international visitors increase by 17% and the overnight stays for Chinese (incl. Hong Kong) visitors go up by 33% to 362,000. Domestic demand for accommodation services also enjoyed strong growth. In total, Finland received 8.3 million international visitors who brought in €4.0 billion, with Chinese visitors spending the most per visit (€1200).
Crowned as the safest travel destination in the world by the WEF Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, Finland offers a unique combination of beautiful, unspoilt nature with many interesting attractions and experiences across four distinct seasons. Easily accessible from both the East and West, Finland attracts visitors from around the world. In 2017, the highest numbers of visitors came from Russia, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, China and Hong Kong, France, USA and Japan.
SOUTH-EAST FINLAND OFFERS ATTRACTIVE TRAVEL BUSINESS
The Kotka-Hamina region in South-East Finland is one of the regions with great potential for further growth in the tourism sector. With 8.5 million people living within a three-hour drive and hosting one of the busiest border crossing points between Russia and Finland, the region is already attracting major tourism-driven investments. For example, the Zsar Outlet Village – the first of its kind in Finland – featuring over 100 luxury brand stores, is scheduled to open in late 2018 near the border in Virolahti.
The biggest urban centre of the region is Kotka, a seaside city with many parks built on the historic King’s Road and home of the Maritime Centre Vellamo which attracts thousands of visitors to its museums and exhibitions. Hamina is a unique star-shaped fortress town teeming with history, known for its charming wooden houses. Another popular destination is the Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge, a favourite summer holiday location of Russian Czar Alexander III and his family. Completed in 1889 by the scenic River Kymijoki, the lodge is now a beautiful museum surrounded by magnificent nature.
Other fascinating excursions in the region include the Stromfors iron mill, Kotka’s masterpieces of modern architecture by the renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (especially popular with Japanese visitors) and the Zabludowicz Collection’s exclusive international artists’ residence and exhibition on the island of Sarvisalo, once featured in Wallpaper.
“Finland’s high standards and its safe and sustainable business environment provide a strong foundation for the travel business. The South-East region is only a two-hour drive from the Helsinki metropolitan area and a three-hour drive from St Petersburg, which makes it ideally located to meet the growing demand for new tourism concepts and services,” says Hanna Lankinen, Head of Travel Industry, Invest in Finland.
FIVE-STAR HURPPU NATURE RESORT IS LOOKING FOR INVESTORS
Located in the border municipality of Virolahti, 14 kilometres from the E18 motorway which connects Helsinki and St Petersburg, Hurppu Horizon Centre plans to offer five-star tourism experiences for the same affluent customer target groups visiting the Zsar Outlet Village. The resort’s 92-hectare area master plan includes a 60-room spa hotel, luxury villas, forest hotel, glamping, restaurant and conference facilities as well as a marina.
Hurppu Horizon Centre is currently looking for investors. Virolahti municipality has approved the business plan to develop Hurppu and stated its readiness to lay the utility networks needed for the business.
The area is known for its unique nature. Arktika – the mass migration of arctic birds – brings thousands of European birdwatchers to the area every spring as Virolahti is one of the rare points where the flocks come onshore. The archipelago of Virolahti is also a part of Gulf of Finland National Park.
“Naturally, the region is a popular destination for Russian tourists. However, many of them are day-trippers and we want to attract them to visit longer in the region. New high-quality accommodation and well-being services together with nature experiences, history and shopping facilities in the Zsar Outlet Village create a combination that makes it easy to stay”, says Sanna Nikki, Tourism Manager of the Kotka-Hamina region, in a statement.