Finland can expect an increase in the flow of foreign visitors in the wake of its selection as one of the world's best travel destinations by both Lonely Planet and National Geographic, views Heli Mende, the head of global sales promotion at Finpro's Visit Finland.
“We're anticipating considerable growth in the coming years,” she states. “As our worldwide recognition grows, so does the number of visitors and overnight stays.”
Lonely Planet, the largest travel guide publisher in the world, recently ranked Finland as the third best travel destination for 2017, identifying the country's national parks, burgeoning food scene and the plethora of festivities scheduled for the centenary of its independence as particular attractions.
“There has never been a better time to discover Finland's proudly unique culture and landscapes,” it wrote.
National Geographic, in turn, selected the country as one of the must-see places in 2017.
“From near the Arctic Circle in Lapland (where the northern lights can be seen up to 200 nights a year), through the 20,000-island Finnish archipelago, and along the rocky beaches on the mainland’s southernmost tip, Finland's 40 national parks, 12 wilderness areas, and six national hiking areas are sanctuaries for silence-seekers,” it stated.
Mende confirms that nature is a key component of the travel experience for many a foreign visitor in Finland. A number of today's visitors, she reveals, are interested especially in staying at a high-quality hotel and taking in the nature by hiking in the nearby environment as opposed to slumbering in a tent in the wilderness.
“The hotel is a home base for making excursions, to see the northern lights at nights in the winter or go canoeing on a summer day, for instance,” says Mende. “Central Helsinki is no more than a half-an-hour drive away from the nearest national park. You won't run into the problem of having to travel long distances in search of nature experiences.”
Growth creates need for investment
The growing number of foreign visitors will necessitate additional investments in the tourism infrastructure in Finland, reminds Mende.
“We've largely built our infrastructure with domestic tourism in mind. Most of our hotels, restaurants and whatnots have been designed specifically for domestic visitors. If we really want to claim our share of global tourism, we have to re-think our approach and develop more services for foreign visitors.”
“High-quality accommodation and restaurant services, shopping opportunities, exciting tourist activities,” she lists.
The demand for high-quality accommodation services is not limited to Helsinki and Lapland. “We're working hard to spread the flow of visitors also outside Helsinki and Lapland. We've launched projects to put the Finnish Archipelago and Finnish Lakeland on the map,” reveals Mende.