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Chinese visits to Finland surge by 63%

Income from tourism rose by 22 percent last year with a boost from Asia, says Business Finland. The sector employs 5.5 percent of Finland’s workforce.

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Visitors from China were the biggest spenders last year. Image: Markku Pitkänen / Yle

Spending by foreign visitors in Finland rose by one fifth last year, according to a survey by Business Finland. It says the biggest spenders were the Chinese, who spent an average of more than 1,200 euros each in Finland. Altogether tourists spent over four billion euros in Finland last year, the survey indicates.

Last year foreign tourists made a record 8.3 million visits to Finland, an increase of 13 percent from 2016. Meanwhile they spent nearly half a billion euros more than a year earlier, an improvement of 22 percent.

The survey was released on Thursday by Business Finland’s Visit Finland unit. Business Finland was formed at the beginning of this year by the merger of Finpro (formerly the Finnish Foreign Trade Association) and the innovation funding agency Tekes.

Russian visits to Finland were up by 17 percent while those by Chinese visitors shot up by 63 percent. Trips from other EU countries nudged up by four percent.

The number of tourists staying overnight in Finland grew by 18 percent, while the number of day trips rose much more modestly at six percent. The vast majority of overnight stays were as part of business trips.

"Growth brings unwanted phenomena"

Visit Finland chief Paavo Virkkunen hailed the results but warned that "the growth in the number of travellers also brings unwanted phenomena and during the peak season our capacity is beginning to be reached in some individual destinations. By developing tourism responsibly while taking into account our unique nature, cultural surroundings and local communities that live off tourism, we can stay on a positive but sustainable growth path," said Virkkunen.

The largest total expenditures were by the largest group of visitors: Russians. However they only spent an average of 240 euros per visit, compared with the overall average of 318 euros – a figure that the average Chinese visitor exceeded nearly four-fold at 1,262 euros.

According to Visit Finland, tourism employs 5.5 percent of Finland’s workforce, or about 140,000 people – and they tend to be young people. It estimates that tourism contributes 2.5 percent of Finland’s GDP, making it bigger than the food sector and nearly as large as farming, forestry and fisheries.

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