Tourism in Finland is big business, but why? Why is this industry so important and how should it best be managed? Read on to find out…
Tourism in Finland
Finland, often dubbed the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’, offers more than just its serene waterscapes. Nestled between vast forests and the Arctic expanse, this Nordic nation presents a harmonious blend of natural beauty and modern innovation. As we embark on this article, we’ll explore the multifaceted attractions of Finnish tourism, delving into a destination where the midnight sun meets cutting-edge design, and age-old traditions thrive alongside contemporary culture.
Geographical overview of Finland
Finland is a country located in northern Europe and shares borders with Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, Russia to the east, and Estonia to the south across the Gulf of Finland.
The country has a total area of approximately 338,000 square kilometres, making it the eighth-largest country in Europe. Its terrain is characterised by numerous lakes and vast forested areas, as well as many islands and archipelagos along its extensive coastline.
Finland has a relatively low population density, with most of the population concentrated in the southern part of the country, particularly around the capital city of Helsinki. The majority of the land is covered by forests, and about one-tenth of the country is covered by water, including over 188,000 lakes.
The landscape is marked by several large lakes, such as Saimaa, the largest lake in Finland and the fourth largest in Europe. The country also features several mountain ranges, including the Koli National Park, which is home to one of Finland’s most famous landscapes.
The climate in Finland is generally characterised by cold winters and mild summers, with the winter months bringing snow and freezing temperatures. Due to its location near the Arctic Circle, some parts of Finland experience the phenomenon of the midnight sun during the summer months and the polar night during the winter months.
The tourism industry in Finland
Finland is a popular tourist destination known for its unique natural beauty, fascinating culture, and outdoor activities. The tourism industry in Finland is an important contributor to the country’s economy, and it has experienced steady growth in recent years.
One of the main draws for tourists is Finland’s vast wilderness areas, including its many lakes, forests, and national parks. Visitors can experience the Northern Lights, hike or ski in the mountains, go fishing, or enjoy a sauna by a lakeside cabin. Finland also has a rich cultural heritage, with numerous museums, art galleries, and festivals celebrating traditional Finnish culture and modern art.
Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, is also a popular tourist destination. The city has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, theatres, and music venues. Helsinki also boasts many architectural wonders, including the famous Temppeliaukio Church, a church built into a rock face, and the modernist Kamppi Chapel of Silence.
Tourists can also experience Finnish traditions and culture through local food and drink, including smoked salmon, reindeer meat, and cloudberry jam. Finland is also known for its vodka, beer, and award-winning wines.
In recent years, Finland has also become a popular destination for wellness and eco-tourism, with a focus on sustainability and natural healing. Visitors can enjoy spa treatments, yoga retreats, and outdoor activities like foraging for wild berries and mushrooms.
Overall, Finland’s tourism industry offers a unique blend of nature, culture, and modern amenities, making it an ideal destination for a wide range of travellers.
Statistics about tourism in Finland
Here are some of the most current statistics available and the time of publication about tourism in Finland:
- In 2019, Finland welcomed a total of 6.9 million tourists, which was a 3% increase from the previous year. (Source: Visit Finland)
- Tourism accounts for about 2.9% of Finland’s GDP, generating around €5.3 billion in revenue in 2019. (Source: Visit Finland)
- The majority of tourists visiting Finland come from neighbouring countries such as Russia, Sweden, and Germany. (Source: Visit Finland)
- The most popular destinations in Finland for tourists are Helsinki, Lapland, and the Lakeland region. (Source: Visit Finland)
- The average length of stay for tourists in Finland is about 4.4 nights. (Source: Visit Finland)
- The most popular activities for tourists in Finland include outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and fishing, as well as cultural activities such as visiting museums and art galleries. (Source: Visit Finland)
- In 2019, the tourism industry in Finland employed approximately 140,000 people, making up around 5.7% of the country’s total employment. (Source: Visit Finland)
- The number of Chinese tourists visiting Finland has been increasing steadily in recent years, with a 12.6% increase in 2019. (Source: Visit Finland)
- The majority of accommodation options in Finland are hotels, followed by rental cottages and apartments. (Source: Visit Finland)
- Sustainable tourism is an important focus for Finland, with the country being named the world’s happiest country by the World Happiness Report in 2021 and ranked as one of the most sustainable destinations in the world by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. (Source: Visit Finland, GSTC)
Most popular tourist attractions in Finland
Finland has a wealth of attractions that draw tourists from around the world. Here are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Finland:
- Helsinki – The capital city of Finland is a vibrant metropolis that offers a wide range of cultural and historical attractions, including museums, art galleries, theatres, and the iconic Helsinki Cathedral.
- Lapland – The northernmost region of Finland is a popular destination for tourists looking to experience the unique Arctic environment and outdoor activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding. Lapland is also famous for its Santa Claus Village and the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights.
- Finnish Lakeland – Finland’s lake district, located in the eastern part of the country, is a stunning region of interconnected lakes and islands, offering opportunities for boating, fishing, and hiking.
- Suomenlinna Fortress – This UNESCO World Heritage site located in Helsinki is a historic sea fortress built in the 18th century. Visitors can explore the fortress and learn about its history through guided tours and exhibits.
- Rovaniemi – The capital of Lapland and the official home of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is a popular destination for families and tourists looking to experience traditional Finnish culture and the northern wilderness.
- Turku Castle – Located in the city of Turku, this mediaeval castle is one of the most well-preserved castles in Finland and offers visitors a glimpse into the country’s rich history.
- Åland Islands – An archipelago of over 6,000 islands located between Finland and Sweden, the Åland Islands offer a unique blend of Finnish and Swedish culture, as well as stunning natural beauty.
- The Archipelago Trail – This 250 km route takes visitors through the Turku archipelago and offers a scenic drive or bike ride through beautiful landscapes, traditional villages, and historic sites.
- Koli National Park – Located in eastern Finland, this national park offers breathtaking views of the Finnish Lakeland and is known for its rugged terrain and unique rock formations.
- Saimaa – The largest lake in Finland, Saimaa offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and relaxation in a picturesque setting, with numerous islands and waterways to explore.
These are just a few of the many attractions that Finland has to offer, making it an ideal destination for travellers seeking a unique blend of nature, culture, and history.
Most popular types of tourism in Finland
Finland offers a diverse range of tourism experiences that cater to different interests and preferences. Here are some of the most popular types of tourism in Finland:
- Nature tourism – Finland’s pristine forests, lakes, and wilderness areas are a major draw for visitors seeking outdoor adventure and natural beauty. Activities such as hiking, cycling, fishing, and wildlife watching are popular among nature lovers.
- Cultural tourism – Finland has a rich cultural heritage that is celebrated through various museums, galleries, festivals, and events. Visitors can explore the country’s traditional handicrafts, music, and cuisine, as well as learn about its history and architecture.
- Winter tourism – Finland’s long, snowy winters offer a host of activities for visitors, including skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. Lapland is a particularly popular destination for winter tourism, with its unique Arctic environment and opportunities to see the Northern Lights.
- Sauna tourism – Sauna is an important part of Finnish culture, and visitors can experience traditional Finnish sauna rituals and relaxation techniques in a variety of settings, from public saunas to private cabins.
- Food and drink tourism – Finnish cuisine features fresh, locally sourced ingredients and a range of unique flavours and dishes. Visitors can sample traditional Finnish dishes such as reindeer, salmon, and cloudberry, as well as Finnish craft beers and spirits.
- Health and wellness tourism – Finland is known for its natural hot springs, therapeutic mud treatments, and spa facilities that offer relaxation and rejuvenation to visitors. Health and wellness tourism is popular among those seeking rest and rejuvenation in a peaceful and natural environment.
These are just a few of the many types of tourism experiences available in Finland, catering to different interests and preferences.
Economic impacts of tourism in Finland
Tourism is a significant contributor to the Finnish economy, generating employment and income, as well as supporting various industries and businesses. Here are some of the economic impacts of tourism in Finland:
- Employment – Tourism creates jobs in a range of industries, including accommodation, food and beverage, transportation, and retail. In 2019, the tourism industry in Finland employed over 155,000 people, accounting for around 6% of total employment in the country.
- Income – Tourism generates income for businesses and individuals across the country, including hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and local vendors. In 2019, tourism contributed approximately €6.8 billion to the Finnish economy, accounting for around 2.9% of the country’s GDP.
- Investment – The tourism industry also attracts investment in infrastructure and services, such as new hotels, transportation networks, and tourism attractions. This investment helps to support the growth of the industry and enhance the visitor experience.
- Regional development – Tourism can support regional development by promoting the growth of businesses and infrastructure in less developed areas of the country. This can help to create more balanced regional development and spread the economic benefits of tourism more widely.
- Cultural preservation – Tourism can also help to preserve and promote Finland’s cultural heritage, by encouraging the development of cultural attractions and events that celebrate Finnish traditions and history. This can help to maintain a sense of cultural identity and pride among the local population.
Overall, the tourism industry plays an important role in the Finnish economy, generating income, employment, and investment, as well as supporting regional development and cultural preservation.
Social impacts of tourism in Finland
Tourism can have various social impacts on destinations, including Finland. Here are some of the social impacts of tourism in Finland:
- Cultural exchange – Tourism can promote cultural exchange and understanding between visitors and locals. Visitors can learn about Finnish culture and traditions, while locals can gain exposure to different cultures and perspectives.
- Community involvement – The tourism industry can involve and benefit local communities, by creating job opportunities and supporting local businesses. This can help to foster a sense of community pride and ownership over tourism development.
- Environmental awareness – Tourism can raise awareness about environmental issues and encourage responsible travel practices. This can help to promote environmental conservation and sustainability.
- Infrastructure development – Tourism can also support the development of infrastructure and services that benefit local communities, such as transportation networks, public facilities, and tourist attractions. This can improve quality of life for residents and enhance the overall visitor experience.
- Social tensions – However, tourism can also create social tensions and conflicts, particularly if it leads to overcrowding, environmental degradation, or cultural misunderstandings. It is important for tourism development to be managed in a sustainable and responsible manner, taking into account the needs and concerns of both visitors and local communities.
Overall, the social impacts of tourism in Finland can be both positive and negative, depending on how tourism development is managed and balanced with the needs and aspirations of local communities.
Environmental impacts of tourism in Finland
Tourism can have various environmental impacts on destinations, including Finland. Here are some of the environmental impacts of tourism in Finland:
- Carbon emissions – Tourism in Finland can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly through transportation, accommodation, and food and beverage services. This can contribute to climate change and other environmental problems.
- Land use – Tourism development can lead to changes in land use, such as the conversion of natural habitats into tourism infrastructure or the degradation of fragile ecosystems due to tourist activities.
- Waste generation – Tourism in Finland can generate significant amounts of waste, such as packaging, food waste, and disposable products. This can contribute to environmental pollution and waste management challenges.
- Resource depletion – Tourism can also lead to the depletion of natural resources, such as water and energy, particularly in areas with limited resources.
- Biodiversity loss – Tourism can have negative impacts on biodiversity, particularly through habitat destruction and disturbance, hunting and fishing, and the introduction of invasive species.
To mitigate the environmental impacts of tourism in Finland, there are various sustainability initiatives in place. These include eco-friendly accommodations, sustainable transportation options, waste reduction and recycling programs, and conservation efforts to protect biodiversity and natural habitats. It is important for tourists to also practise responsible and sustainable tourism behaviours, such as minimising waste, using public transportation, and respecting natural and cultural heritage sites.
FAQs about tourism in Finland
Now that we know a bit more about tourism in Finland, lets answer some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic:
What is the best time of year to visit Finland?
The best time to visit Finland depends on your interests. Summer (June to August) is the best time for outdoor activities and sightseeing, while winter (December to February) is ideal for winter sports and seeing the Northern Lights.
Do I need a visa to visit Finland?
This depends on your nationality. Citizens of EU/EEA countries and several other countries are exempt from visa requirements for short stays. Check with the Finnish embassy or consulate in your home country to determine if you need a visa.
What is the official language of Finland?
The official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish. English is widely spoken, particularly in tourist areas.
How do I get around in Finland?
Finland has a well-developed transportation network that includes buses, trains, domestic flights, and ferries. Public transportation in major cities is affordable and reliable.
What are some popular tourist attractions in Finland?
Popular tourist attractions in Finland include Helsinki, Lapland, the Northern Lights, Finnish lakes, national parks, and cultural sites such as Suomenlinna fortress and Turku Castle.
Is Finland an expensive country to visit?
Finland can be relatively expensive compared to other European countries, particularly in terms of accommodation and food. However, there are budget-friendly options available, such as hostels and street food.
What are some typical Finnish foods I should try?
Finnish cuisine includes traditional dishes such as reindeer stew, smoked salmon, Karelian pastries, and rye bread. There are also many international dining options available in major cities.
Can I see the Northern Lights in Finland?
Yes, Finland is a popular destination for seeing the Northern Lights, particularly in Lapland. The best time to see the Northern Lights is during the winter months.
Are there any cultural customs I should be aware of when visiting Finland?
Finns tend to be reserved and value personal space, so it’s important to respect this when interacting with locals. It’s also common to remove shoes when entering someone’s home or certain public buildings.
What are some popular winter activities in Finland?
Popular winter activities in Finland include skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and dog sledding.
To conclude- Tourism in Finland
So, that sums up this article about tourism in Finland. As our exploration of Finland’s tourism landscape draws to a close, it’s evident that this Nordic gem seamlessly marries its rich cultural tapestry with unparalleled natural beauty. From its tranquil lakes to innovative urban hubs, Finland continually redefines the essence of travel, offering experiences that are both profound and enriching. In the realm of global tourism, Finland stands as a testament to timeless allure and modern evolution, promising each visitor a journey of lasting resonance.
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