Asians return to Finnish winter

     All of the Nordic countries are known for their exotic winter climate and clean nature. But Finland’s strength as a travel destination is that it has for long been one of Europe’s most unknown countries. The Finnish culture is a fascinating and unique mixture of eastern and western cultures.
     “When you compare organizing incentives between Sweden and Norway with Finland, the difference is that Finland has already started with winter incentives over 20 years ago.” Explains Helena Kuulkers, Managing Director of Helsinki based destination management company, Interaxionsplus. “Finland is also more exotic than the Scandinavian countries due to its colorful history and culture. Nature has always served as a source of inspiration and energy for the nation. The Finns are incredibly good in using nature in attracting tourists. When you combine the Finnish nature with the many top class hotels, excellent infrastructure and new innovative venues, you see why Finland is attracting so many tourists.”

     During this year’s winter holiday season, Lapland is expecting more than 540 incoming charter flights, a 10-15 % rise compared to last year. The increasing air traffic has even raised safety concerns. In response the Finnish aviation administration has added additional air traffic control staff to the tiny airports in Lapland ensuring that planes can land safely.
     During the first three quarters of 2004, passenger figures at Helsinki’s airport have increased by 12% on the previous year. Helsinki Airport has also achieved the greatest increase in passenger volume among all Nordic airports. The highest relative growth at Helsinki airport has been seen in Asian traffic, where passenger figures have climbed by a stunning 60% from the previous year.

     Despite the boom in traveling to Finland, the numbers of tourists attracted before the collapse of the South East Asian economies in the late 90’s, have yet to be regained. The amount of nights spent by South East Asian visitors in Finland plummeted in 1998 by nearly 50%. In 2003 Finland attracted 75% of the highest figure of 23,000 reached in 1997. The number has been increasing since 2000. Despite the increasing numbers Finland has yet the potential to attract many more visitors.

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