Many tourism sector operators are looking to cash in on the huge upswing in visitors from China.
One of them is Hotel Tallukka in Asikkala in southern Finland that has hired a Chinese agent to attract more tourists from China. Last week, the agent attended a travel fair in Chengdu, the home city of Lumi and Pyry – the two pandas now living in Ähtäri – to make Asikkala known.
Virve Walander from Tallukka says that the reception in Chengdu was enthusiastic. “We ran out of brochures and business cards. Our expectations from that trip are quite high.”
According to Walander, Finland’s nature and clean air are assets that attract Chinese visitors. “The Chinese are looking for activities that Finns would consider simple and every-day: walking in a forest, lighting a fire, picking blueberries or warming a sauna.”
“We just need to let them know that such things are available in Finland,” Walander adds.
Lapland’s allure fading?
Most Chinese tourists who come to Finland go to Lapland. Is there a risk that the Chinese no longer want to visit Lapland because it is too crowded?
Jari Ahjoranta from Visit Tampere does not believe that Lapland’s allure will fade soon. “On the other hand, there is an ongoing trend in China for more individual travel, instead of touring countries in large groups”, he says. As a result, Ahjoranta expects Finland’s lake region to attract more visitors too.
However, the Finns still have quite a ways to go learning about Chinese culture, Ahjoranta says. Therefore it is important to cooperate and build networks. “There’s a huge market waiting for us but nobody can conquer that alone,” he says.
In terms of food the Chinese are quite open-minded, Walander says. “They are happy to taste the Karelian hot pot, but the menu should also include some Chinese foods.” “That shows the guests that they are taken care of,” she adds.