Updated: Oct 10
During the second week of the Travel Assistant training, I was not able to attend as I was working for the EuGMS Conference taking place on September 19-21 at the Helsinki Convention and Expo Center.
Later on I logged into our online platform to familiarise myself of the content presented. The topics of that week have been: 1) Finland as a tourist destination and 2) research skills.
Finland as a tourist destination
Over the past two decades, Finland has quietly but steadily transformed itself from an unknown destination tucked away on the outskirts of Europe into a rising star on the global tourist map. With its pristine natural beauty, unique cultural experiences, and commitment to sustainability, Finland has captured the hearts of travelers from all corners of the world. This remarkable journey from obscurity to international acclaim is a testament to the country's dedication to offering something truly special to visitors.
In the early 2000s, Finland was often overshadowed by its more prominent European neighbors. However, as travelers sought new and authentic experiences, Finland's untouched wilderness, mesmerizing Northern Lights, quirkiness and international recognition began to draw attention. The country's commitment to sustainability and responsible tourism practices also resonated with eco-conscious travelers. Over the years, Finland has harnessed its natural assets, such as the stunning Lapland region and the unique phenomenon of Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun, to create unforgettable experiences for tourists.
I have been working as a travel assistant in Lapland in 2006 and I have seen this remarkable transformation unfolding.
Today, Finland stands tall as a global destination of interest, celebrated for its harmonious blend of nature, culture, and sustainability—a testament to how a nation's dedication can transform it into a must-visit place for travelers worldwide.
Did you know how Finland is divided into 4 tourism regions?
Tourism as a vital export sector in Finland
In recent years, Finland's tourism industry has experienced remarkable growth, outpacing many other sectors and establishing itself as a vital contributor to the nation's economy. The tourism sector serves as a significant source of revenue, plays a pivotal role in job creation and enhances the country's global image. Note! I have written my Master's thesis for Sibelius Academy on Destination Branding, check it out!
According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland, tourism has a significant impact on the economy and employment in Finland. Tourism directly generates 2.6 % of the gross domestic product. Total tourism demand was around EUR 15 billion in 2017, with tourism enterprises’ turnover exceeding EUR 19 billion. Tourism also generates a variety of multiplier effects on other industries such as construction, food, textiles and financial services. One tourism euro generates an estimated 56 cents of added value for other industries.
The foundation for this impressive growth lies in Finland's Tourism Strategy for the years 2022-2028. This visionary strategy sets the course for tourism development in Finland, delineating objectives to be achieved by 2028 and outlining specific actions to be taken between 2022 and 2023. The ultimate goal? To position Finland as the leading and most sustainable tourist destination in the Nordic countries.
Key Players in Tourism Development
Leading the charge in shaping Finland's tourism policy is the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, which collaborates closely with various ministries and stakeholders. Their collective effort is instrumental in steering the industry toward sustainable growth. Another key player in this endeavor is VisitFinland, entrusted with the task of promoting Finnish tourism on the global stage.
Finland's tourism strategy (2019-2028) guides the development of Finnish tourism with the following strategic priorities:
1. supporting sustainable development activities
2. responding to digital transformation
3. improving accessibility
4. ensuring an environment that supports competitiveness
Additionally, the Roadmap for growth and renewal in Finnish tourism for 2015–2025 has the aim to make Finland the number-one tourist destination in Northern Europe by 2025.
The strategic priority areas of the roadmap are as follows:
Strengthening theme-based co-operation between tourist centres and networks of tourism enterprises, as well as new openings in product development, sales and marketing
Developing competitive and comprehensive offerings from the interfaces of tourism and other fields
Increasing the effectiveness of marketing activities and making the travel services easier to buy
A competitive operational environment for tourism that supports growth and renewal
With a well-defined strategy and action plan, a collaborative approach, and targeted investments, Finland is well on its way to becoming the crown jewel of Nordic tourism destinations, offering travelers an unforgettable and environmentally responsible experience.
The importance of international events in Finland
While I was working at the EuGMS Congress, the importance of international events was presented at the training. In this Congress Calendar by the Finland Convention Bureau, you can find all the upcoming congresses taking place in Finland.
Congresses and conventions play a pivotal role in boosting national tourism and stimulating the economy in several ways, for instance:
Economic impact: Congresses bring together a large number of delegates, often from various countries, resulting in significant economic benefits for the host city or country. Delegates spend on accommodation, dining, transportation, entertainment, and local attractions, thereby infusing money into the local economy. This spending creates jobs and generates revenue for hotels, restaurants, transportation services, and various businesses, contributing to economic growth. A relevant example of this was the fact that many delegates that arrived in Helsinki for the EuGMS Congress, due to an unexpected walkout of staff at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport were left with no luggage and we as event hosts had to advise them where to shop for new clothes for the Congress as well as all the dinners and other entertainment planned for them.
Infrastructure development: Hosting large-scale congresses necessitates investments in infrastructure development. This can include the construction or renovation of convention centers, hotels, transportation hubs, airports and other facilities. These developments not only enhance the congress experience but also leave a lasting legacy for the host city, making it more attractive for future events and tourists. A relevant example is the expansion of the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, one of the largest investments in Finnish aviation history. Please watch my Travel Insights interview at TravelDailyNews.com with Senior Vice President of Finavia, Mr. Henri Hansson on the airport expansion.
Promotion of local culture and heritage: Congresses often incorporate cultural events and activities that showcase the local culture, heritage, and attractions of the host destination. Delegates are encouraged to explore the city, which can lead to increased tourism beyond the congress duration and, of course, be a source of income for travel assistants and guides.
Knowledge exchange and networking: Congresses serve as platforms for knowledge exchange, innovation, and networking. They bring together professionals, academics, and experts from various fields, which in turn lead to collaborations, partnerships, and investment opportunities that have long-term economic benefits.
Destination branding: Hosting congresses elevates the profile of a destination on the global stage. Media coverage and word-of-mouth from delegates can lead to increased tourism interest. The positive experiences of congress attendees may lead them to recommend the destination to others, resulting in a steady flow of leisure travelers and tourists.
Diversification of tourism: Congress tourism often occurs during off-peak seasons, helping to balance tourism flows throughout the year. Finland atrracts tourists in Lapland in winter and in the summer in the Helsinki Metropolitan region, what happens though in other regions and off-season? Congresses and events boost the local tourism industry in various regions all year-round.