The rapid growth in the number of Russian tourists visiting the South Carelia region requires at least the doubling of the amount of retail space in the coming years, according to research produced by Santasalo Ky for the Regional Council of South Karelia. The estimate is based on data from market research company TAK Oy which has estimated that the number of Russian visitors is increasing at an annual rate of 12-15%. This means that Russian tourists could be spending about EUR 1.3 -1.8 billion in the region by the year 2025. This would require an increase of 0.5 - 0.8 million square metres in retail floor space.
According to the South Carelia Regional Council, the growth in tourism from Russia could be higher than TAK’s estimated figure if Finland and Russia agree on visa-free travel between the countries. This scenario would require at least 0.688 - 1.7 million square metres more retail floor space. The current total retail floor space in South Carelia is 0.6 million square metres.
Growth in border traffic
The Regional Council of South Karelia is a joint municipal authority of nine member municipalities, and is responsible for regional development and planning. At the end of last year the council reported that border traffic between Finland and Russia was the heaviest it has ever been. Economic development in Russia can open up vast new opportunities for the region.
According to the council, the utilisation of the region’s advantageous location requires the development of border-crossing points and traffic connections as well as the development of shopping, travel, tourism and other business, business expertise and logistics. The council is currently updating its regional land use plan.