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Finnair Asia hub strategy brings Asian tourists to Finland

The niche positioning of Finnish carrier Finnair as the most convenient airline between Europe and Asia has also a very positive impact on the evolution of Asian inbound tourists into Finland.

HELSINKI- In this late summer days, quays along Helsinki cruise port, pedestrian areas or even the Museum of Design are filled up with Japanese travellers. They are everywhere and they enjoy the tranquil serenity of the Finnish capital. They are over 150,000 Japanese coming every year to Finland. “There is a close cultural connection between Japan and Finland which goes back for many decades. Japanese are fond of Scandinavian design and brands and are also looking for pristine landscape,” says Joseph Knowles from Finnair Department of communication. Linguistic experts explain also that they are similarities in both Japanese and Finnish language.

But beside all of those elements, a great contributor to the popularity of Finland in Japan is Finnair’s positioning as the niche carrier between Europe and Asia. Helsinki is promoted as the closest European hub to most Asian cities with flying time to China, Japan or Korea being only 7 or 8 hours. “Finnair offers the shortest route to Europe from China, and we offer connections to over 50 European cities and we are already positioned within the Schengen area,” explains the airline. “In the past it was more about European business travellers flying to China, but it is now more and more a question of Chinese travellers – business or leisure – travelling to Europe”.

Finnair flies then to Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Nagoya, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo in Northeast Asia. It also serves Bangkok and Singapore in Southeast Asia and Delhi in Asia. With the ambition to double revenues on its Asian routes by 2020, Finnair actively looks at new destinations. Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta but also Fukuoka or more cities in China are under consideration.

The result is also very positive for Finnish tourism. Although most passengers passing through Helsinki airport will go to another destination, Finland has seen tourist arrivals from Asia growing tremendously over the years. According to the Finnish Tourist Board, Finland received 7.26 million foreign travellers in 2011 with Asia-Pacific representing 0.43 million travellers. The largest group are Japanese travellers up by 38% between 2010 and 2011 to 150,000 tourists. China represents the second largest group of Asian inbound travellers with 74,000 arrivals (+2%) followed by South-Korean with 46,000 arrivals (+19%). Interestingly individual travellers become preeminent for Asians. Although package tours represent 52% of all Chinese arrivals, it is down to 45% for South Koreans and 43% for Japanese. While the average length of stay in Finland reached 4.1 overnights in 2011, Chinese generated on average 8.4 nights, Koreans 6.2 nights and Japanese 5 nights.

While the average amount of foreign visitors spending stood at € 306 in 2011, visitors from China spent however twice as much, at € 670 on average.

Asian tourists make a stopover to Finland to stay for a day or two in Helsinki before going to Lapland to visit Santa Claus city of Rovaniemi.

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