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BACKGROUND: Overnight stays up by 30 per cent
By Juhani Saarinen in Lappeenranta
At least on the basis of the tourist statistics, buying a hotel or a string of holiday cottages for rentals in Eastern Finland does sound like a promising investment opportunity.
The number of Russian travellers crossing into Finland has risen steadily, and last year there were already more than 1.7 million visits recorded. The bulk of them are short shopping trips.
In terms of overnight stays in hotels, motels, guest houses, and cottages, Russians became the largest group last year, and this year the growth has been as much as 30 per cent. By the end of May there were nearly 380,000 overnights recorded.
"There seems to be almost no limit to the demand for cottage holidays", says Regional Manager Arto Asikainen from the Finnish Tourist Board.
Asikainen notes that peace and quiet, clean air and water, safety, and the attractive natural surroundings are all important reasons for taking a holiday in Finland.
The demands on accommodation set by Russian tourists are often higher than those the Finns will accept, but as the country's middle class grows it is anticpated we will see a greater call for less expensive and lavish holiday facilities.
The growth potential is still huge. Asikainen points out that at present only around 10 million out of a total Russian population of 140 million actually have a passport.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 29.7.2007
JUHANI SAARINEN / Helsingin Sanomat