Finland has stepped up its campaign to attract more Chinese tourists with the announcement of plans to launch of 13 new visa application centres in the country.
In spring 2016, the new visa centres will open in Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Kunming, Nanjing, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Xi’an. These will be in addition to Finland’s existing visa application centres in Beijing and Shanghai.
The move forms part of a major drive to attract more Chinese visitors to Finland, in line with the ‘Stopover Finland’ campaign. Capitalising on Finnair’s flights between China and Europe, via Helsinki, Visit Finland is aiming to entice Chinese travellers to break up their holiday with a stop in Finland.
Finnair currently operates flights connecting Helsinki with Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Xi’an, and is planning to launch direct flights to Guangzhou in May.
A new range of Stopover Finland packages will be launched at the end of March, offering a range of tour options ranging from five hours to five days.
Speaking to Travel Daily recently, Heli Mende, program director of the Stopover Finland campaign, said that the new packages would enable Chinese visitors to explore destinations across the country.
“What we want to do is ensure that any traveller who flies to Europe via Helsinki can stop in Finland from five hours to five days,” Ms Mende said. “They can visit not only the Helsinki area, but also fly to Lapland and spent one night in an igloo hotel there and see the Northern Lights, or do a huskie ride or visit a reindeer farm. Or in the summer go to the lake district or the archipelago area.”
According to Visit Finland, the number of overnight stays by Chinese visitors in Finland increased by more than 40% in 2015 compared to the previous year, and Chinese travellers are already Finland’s biggest international spenders, in terms of receipts per visit.
Finland’s Chinese visa application centres are operated by VFS Global and Finland forms part of the Schengen visa area.