In 2011 the number of trips by Russian tourists was increasing at a rate of 20% per month. The fast train link between Helsinki and St. Petersburg has clearly increased the number of visitors. The period around the New Year is the most popular time for trips to Finland. Russians celebrate Christmas two weeks after the West, so the opening of the winter sales season in Finland after Christmas provides a perfect opportunity to buy gifts.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland’s missions abroad processed a total of 1.25 million visa applications in 2011, which is an all-time record high. The figure was up by 23% from the year before. In the past five years the number of visa applications submitted to Finnish missions has more than doubled.
Almost 95 per cent of all visa applications were processed by Finland’s four diplomatic missions in Russia. The Finnish Consulate General in St. Petersburg processed 936,620 applications in 2011, up 26% from the year before. Visa application figures were also up sharply up in the Consulate General’s branch offices in Petrozavodsk and Murmansk, which processed 73,833 and 46,364 applications.
Sources: Kauppalehti, Ministry of Foreign Affairs