Thanks to the dynamic of Finland national carrier Finnair, which positioned itself as a niche carrier positioned on the axis Europe-Asia, Finland is getting the benefits with a sharp increase in total arrivals from Southeast Asia. The country wants to further capitalize on this positioning by presenting itself as a peaceful, green destination to Asian potential travellers.
At ITB Asia, Finland had probably one of the largest booths among European countries. Some 30 exhibitors where present on Finland official space while nearby the city of Rovaniemi in Lapland was also present with half a dozen of exhibitors. The strong interest of the Scandinavian country towards Asia is sustained by the important network of Asian destinations linked to Helsinki.
For over a decade, Finnish national carrier Finnair has increasingly played the Asian card. In 2018, Asia represented 50% of all traffic expressed in ASK (Available Seats Km) while it generated almost a billion Euro in tickets revenue, a share of 44.6% from a total of 2.24 billion euro for the entire network.
Helsinki is indeed one of the closest entry point for Asian travellers into Europe as it is located at the northern tip of the continent. This is particularly obvious for flights to China, Japan and Korea with flying times shorter by up to 90 minutes compared to many other carriers. But the carrier also offers a range of excellent connections from Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam (the latter on a seasonal basis) in Southeast Asia. To Thailand, Finnair flies up to two times daily to Bangkok and proposes also flights to Phuket and Krabi during the high season. The carrier also flies daily to Singapore. The airline will continue to expand in the years to come in Asia and they are still options to add Kuala Lumpur in the future, as Malaysia Airlines is like Finnair a member of the oneworld alliance.
Sustainable green Finland attracts Asians
National tourism authority ‘Visit Finland’ is indeed very satisfied by the progression of Asian travellers to the country. In 2018, Asian overnights jumped by 2% to reach 1.07 million. Southeast Asian overnights however grew faster except for the Philippines and Singapore. In 2018, top growth from Southeast Asia was recorded for Malaysia (up 15%), for Thailand (up 13%) and for Vietnam (up 9%). During the first eight months of 2019, Asian arrivals grew further by 10% to reach 780,500 overnights. The fastest growing markets in Southeast Asia were Indonesia, up 76%, Thailand, up 26% and Vietnam, up 24%.
For the second year in a row, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world, according to the World 2019 Happiness Report. Finns mainly attribute their happiness to their close connection with nature. The country’s many lakes, rivers and extensive forests provide pure ingredients and places for relaxation, and all this can be enjoyed by both locals and travelers alike. Finland offers an alternative to crowded travel destinations, and seeks to nurture, conserve and preserve its natural environment, as well as the Finnish culture and lifestyle for years to come.
How to sell then the happiness concept to Asians who generally have a more down-to-earth vision of destinations? “We just want to convey to Asian people a simple message: come to Finland, slowdown and reconnect with nature with us. They will see the big difference of our lifestyle with the hectic pace of their own life here in Asia,” was telling Sari Hey, PR & Media Manager Asia and Australia for Visit Finland during ITB Asia. “I am confident that Asian travellers will then understand why we feel happy,” she added.
in 2019, Visit Finland had a campaign called “Rent a Finn”, an original response to the need of resourcing for travellers looking for authenticity, local experience and the search of serene nature by meeting local guides or hosts.
In the years to come, Finland will implement a ‘Sustainable Travel Finland label’. The program will make it easier for travel trade and travellers to recognise a tourism company and destination that takes sustainability seriously. The label is only awarded for those companies and destinations that have undergone the entire Sustainable Travel Finland programme and fulfilled the criteria. Visitors will also be involved as they will promise to respect and treasure Finnish nature. A pledge that many countries in Southeast Asia could look as a model to follow…