Finland targets Asia with new stopover campaign
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Finland is aiming to capitalise on the Asian outbound travel boom with a new stopover programme.
On Wednesday, Finland was named as the Partner Country for next year’s ITB Asia. And talking to Travel Daily at the event on Thursday, Heli Mende, program director of Visit Finland’s new ‘Stopover Finland’ campaign, revealed the key elements and targets for the programme.
“The Stopover Finland concept… would include a menu of 50 travel services, products and packages,” explained Ms Mende. “We’re targeting especially travellers from China, Japan and South Korea in the first place, and then we will have a global launch next year here at ITB Asia.
“The Chinese market is of course very important to us because of the growing numbers. In general the growth has been about 40% this year in Finland, so we’re looking to increase the number of Chinese stopover passengers as well.”
And Visit Finland has set itself ambitious targets for the stopover programme, including a 50% increase in overnight visitors from Asia and EUR80 million (US$91m) additional tourism revenue by 2018.
Ms Mende revealed that Finland had studied Singapore’s long-running stopover programmes when devising its campaign.
“The destination is different but there are interesting models they have implemented here that we think can work,” she said.
Unlike Singapore however, Stopover Finland will include stays of up to five days, allowing transit passengers to take longer trips to places like Lapland.
“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.”
Asked whether Finland would prefer to attract these longer staying guests as single-destination travellers, Ms Mende said the aim of Stopover Finland was to “introduce us to the market”.
“Of course we would like to see the mono-destination travellers more and more, and at Visit Finland that’s one of our goals. But so far most of the travellers from China do multi-destination trips, so Stopover Finland is a way for them to experience two destinations.
“We need to understand that we are part of a package – either part of the Scandinavian package or part of the European tour,” she added.
The Stopover Finland programme is being devised in partnership with Finnair, which has its own target of doubling its Asian traffic by 2020, compared to 2010. To achieve this, the national carrier will launch its brand new fleet of Airbus A350 aircraft to multiple Asian gateways in the coming months, including Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore. It will also add two more Asian destinations next summer: Guangzhou and Fukuoka.
“[Finnair’s] route network is the key. They have very good connections from Asia to Europe via Helsinki and vice versa. So they are one of our main marketing channels as well, and we’ll be promoting together from next spring. All the destinations where Finnair flies are our markets, and also Australia, even though we don’t have direct flights. Maybe they can do two stopovers; one in Singapore and one in Helsinki!” Ms Mende joked.
With more two million international passengers transiting through Helsinki Airport in 2014, there appears to be significant potential for the Stopover Finland campaign.
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