Summer tourist numbers slipped back in 2009 after long climb
Overall travel figures down marginally; number of visits by Estonians grew significantly
In 2009, the white nights and other attractions of the Finnish summer managed to tempt in slightly fewer foreign tourists compared with the year before.
According to Statistics Finland, over the period from the beginning of May through to the end of October 2009, some 3.41 million foreign travellers visited Finland.
This translates to a reduction of a couple of per cent compared with the summer season of 2008.
The economic downturn is seen as the cause of the development, which saw the long steady growth in Finland’s tourism figures turn to a slight downward trend.
The previous time a decline was experienced in the visitor figures to Finland took place in the summer of 2003, when 2.8 million visits by foreign tourists were recorded.
A third of the visitors last summer came from Russia. After that the most foreign tourists to Finland come from Sweden, Estonia, Germany, Norway, and Britain.
Of these, only the number of visitors from Estonia saw an increase last summer.
Research manager Tom Ylkänen from the Finnish Tourist Board (MEK) believes that the 14% growth seen on that front can be explained by Finland’s proximity to Estonia.
“I would say the Estonians have substituted travelling to faraway places with making hops to nearby Finland instead”, Ylkänen reckons.
All told, Finland cashed in on its foreign summer visitors to the tune of nearly a billion euros last year.
For the tourism industry as a whole, the year 2009 was nevertheless a difficult one.
Overnight stays in hotels and other similar establishments by Finnish nationals and foreign visitors alike were reduced by 2% and more than 10% respectively, as both business and leisure travel went into reverse.
The latest monthly figures are from this January, according to which the overnight stays by foreign visitors are still continuing to fall almost at the same rate.
“Finland has yet to reach a turning point for the better”, Ylkänen says.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Helsinki´s tourism figures expected to show slight decline from last year (30.4.2009)
Decline in summer tourism numbers (22.9.2008)