Chinese traveler generated an income of 400 million USD to Finland in 2017, which was a growth of 130 million USD alone in that year. Altogether, Chinese travel to Finland is currently the second largest travel income source. Only Russia is bigger, due to regular daily shopping trips to Finland.
Part of the explanation for this goes way back. The first direct non-stop route between Europe and China – namely Beijing and Helsinki – was established in 1988. But there are a number of reasons why the small, cold country in the far north has been able to achieve such popularity with the Chinese audience.
Certainly, purchasing power for consumption, language skills enabling Free Independent Travel (FIT) patterns are perhaps the most significant socio-demographic factors behind the development, says the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) in its spring report 2018. But more importantly, Alipay mobile payments have been made widely available, Chinese driver´s licenses are accepted in Finland (a huge advantage for the FITs), and the filming of a hugely popular Chinese reality show “We are in love” on location in Finland, displaying Finnish winter and activities in clean nature, generated massively successful PR.
In an interview with COTRI, the head of Visit Finland Paavo Virkkunen says that additional buzz in Chinese social media was created through Alitrips rebranding event (into Fliggy) arranged in Rovaniemi, claimed to be the official home town of Santa Claus, in November 2016. The livestreamed coverage reached an estimated 100 million viewers, probably contributing to the 113% increase in seasonal overnights winter 2017.
Image courtesy of Visit Finland.