Finland set for record year in tourism from Russia

Spending on tax free purchases by Russian tourists has increased by 26% in the first half of 2012.

The number of visits and overnight stays by Russian tourists in Finland has grown by almost 20% in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2011, according to the Federation of Finnish Commerce. Tax free purchases by Russian tourists have also increased by 26% in the period January - September 2012, according to figures from Global Blue Finland.

Last year Russian visitors spent almost EUR 1 billion in Finland, including about EUR 220 million on tax free shopping. This year shopping revenues have increased most in the cities of Imatra, Joensuu, Rovaniemi and Kuopio. A sixth of the Russian tourists coming to Finland earn more than EUR 4700 euros per month and they can also make large single purchases during a trip. In addition to shopping, they especially value Finland’s security and closeness to nature.

January and November are peak months

According to border interviews conducted by TAK Oy, 77% of Russian tourists now come to Finland for shopping compared to 50% in 2006. The shopping trips are often timed for January and November during Russia’s national holidays. In January, the shopping trips are often directed to Helsinki, while shopping trips in November are mainly to the cities near the border such as Lappeenranta, Imatra or Joensuu.

The most popular destinations for Russian tourists are Lappeenranta, Helsinki and Imatra. Almost 80% of the Russian tourists come from the St Petersburg region. Helsinki attracts relatively the most tourists from Moscow, while Kotka and Hamina are popular with visitors from Viipuri.

Groceries are the most popular purchase by Russian tourists in Finland. Visitors from St. Petersburg buy more adult clothes than others, whereas visitors from Moscow use more services. On average, visitors from Viipuri buy more household goods and spare parts and are least interested in buying services.

Sources: Federation of Finnish Commerce, Kauppalehti