Finland’s 2015 tourism strategy will continue to focus on local culture and cuisine, including the latest programme ‘Food Helsinki? HEL YEAH!’, according to executives talking at ITB Asia 2014.
The street food phenomenon has taken off in Helsinki and brought with it the now-international Restaurant Day, which features individuals opening their kitchens to the public and selling their own produce.
“Having started in Finland in May 2011, the event has now featured at least once in 64 countries, up to four times a year,” explained said Anne Relander, marketing manager for Visit Helsinki.
May 2014 saw 2,724 individual restaurants serve dishes across 35 countries, and an estimated 1.6 million customers have eaten at one of the pop-up stalls.
Another focus for Finland’s strategy will be design tourism, focusing on world-famous brands from the country, including Iittala, Nokia and Angry Birds, as well as designers such as Marimekko, Minna Parikka and Hanna Sarén. In addition, it will be the 150th anniversary of the birth of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957).
Specifically for the Asian market, visiting Russia is a popular option – especially for Chinese tourists because they do not need a visa. St Petersburg is about 3.5 hours away by train from Helsinki.
“There are several daily flights to Helsinki from Asian cities, include a seven-hour service from Beijing – it’s the shortest route to Europe and many passengers choose to fly here and stay for a couple of nights before continuing on to London,” said Ms Relander.
“We are the most affordable of the Scandinavian countries,” added Nina Hilden, Marketing Manager for Visit Finland, “And because we belong to the Euro zone, we’re even more accessible to visitors.”