Statistics Finland reported on Thursday that overnight stays by foreign visitors decreased by roughly four per cent in April.

Overnight stays by Chinese visitors, however, jumped by 49 per cent – largely due to the travel promotion project Stopover Finland, estimates Timo Lappi, the chief executive of the Finnish Hospitality Association (Mara).

“The goal is that tourists arriving in Europe from Asia would spend time in two European capitals rather than one,” he says. “The Icelandic capital of Reykjavik has accomplished that with tourists from the United States.”

Overnight stays by Japanese visitors similarly increased by 12 per cent year-on-year in April. “A tourist who stays overnight spends more money in Finland than someone passing through the Helsinki Airport,” highlights Lappi. “Once the Ring Rail Line has been completed, the airport will offer convenient connections also to elsewhere in Finland. We have a number of excellent travel destinations depending on the time of year.”

Lappi estimates that visitors from Asia also appreciate aspects that the locals consider self-evident, such as clean tap water. “Helsinki is a quiet small town for most Chinese,” he adds.

It is nevertheless vital to develop additional tourist attractions, Lappi points out. “Mara and its member companies recently donated 2.8 million euros to the Guggenheim project. We're confident that an international brand such as that would attract more visitors from Asia,” he says.

Overnight stays by Russian visitors, in turn, plummeted by 41 per cent in April and by as much as 46 per cent between January and April. Overnight stays by Chinese visitors increased by 35 per cent over the first four months of the year.

Regardless, overnight stays by resident and foreign visitors remained close to the levels of 2014, at roughly 1.4 million.

The preliminary data published by Statistics Finland on Thursday have been collected from accommodation establishments with a minimum of 20 beds or caravan pitches equipped with electricity.

Laura Halminen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT