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Saara Aalto, the runner up in the 2016 X Factor UK, performed on the stairs of the Helsinki Cathedral on 5 December, 2016.
Saara Aalto, the runner up in the 2016 X Factor UK, performed on the stairs of the Helsinki Cathedral on 5 December, 2016.

The past two months have capped an already excellent year for the tourism sector in Helsinki.

The Finnish capital received an unprecedented amount of global media attention between November and December due to the performances of Saara Aalto in the X Factor UK and a tourism poster designed in collaboration by Slush and Visit Helsinki, according to a press release from the City of Helsinki.

The city reveals that media stories mentioning both Aalto and Helsinki potentially reached as many as 1.7 billion people worldwide between 1 and 22 December, translating to an equivalent advertising value of 15.7 million euros, according to an analysis conducted by Meltwater.

Stories about the advertising stunt pulled off during Slush, a start-up event that attracted over 15,000 visitors to Helsinki between November and December, reached an estimated 270 million people over the three-week period. The tourism poster went viral on social media for greeting visitors willing to brave the dreary end-of-year weather in Helsinki with the text: “Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November. Except you, you badass. Welcome.”

“Helsinki and Finland have received a record amount of international publicity this year,” says Laura Aalto, a development director at Visit Helsinki. “The National Geographic lauded Helsinki lavishly as early as in February, while the Lonely Planet selected Finland as the third best travel destination for 2017 in October.”

The capital's sauna culture has similarly received attention in the world media, she adds.

The City of Helsinki also reports that the number of overnight stays by foreign visitors have continued to grow this year, despite a continuing decline in the number of overnight stays by visitors from Russia.

“Our estimates indicate that the number of overnight stays will grow by three to four per cent from the previous year. I am confident that we can hit a total of 3.6 million overnight stays in 2016,” says Tuulikki Becker, the chief executive of Visit Helsinki.

Both Helsinki and Finland should only increase their appeal as a travel destination next year, as they kick off celebrations to commemorate the centenary of Finnish independence from Russia. Helsinki, for example, will celebrate the centenary of independence with dozens of programme projects and hundreds of events. The city is also set to host a number of major international events in 2017, according to the press release.

The celebrations will be kicked off on the main artery of Helsinki, Mannerheimintie, on New Year's Eve, with performances from a long list of beloved domestic artists, including Saara Aalto, Michael Monroe and Paleface.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Seppo Samuli – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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