Visit Helsinki, the city’s official marketing machine, said that the increased overnight stays – 3.5 million altogether - came from home-grown visitors as well as tourists from markets such as Germany, Sweden and China. In fact the Chinese proved most eager to explore what the capital had to offer – their numbers grew by 44 percent compared to 2014.
Visit Helsinki said that major international events in particular contributed significantly to last year’s increased visitor figures. The busy event calendar has been part of a systematic strategy to attract headline events, and it seems to have borne fruit, the organisation added.
"Events had a big impact on tourism growth last year; the most important was the Gymnaestrada gymnastics event, which brought 21,000 participants from around the world to Helsinki. The affordable ticket prices for the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship in December attracted many visitors from major ice hockey countries," said Visit Helsinki chief executive Tuulikki Becker.
Chinese leading the pack
According to the figures, Chinese tourists in particular were keen to sample Helsinki's sights and sounds. For the first time, they spent more than their Russian counterparts.
Last year visitors spent an average of 1.7 days in Helsinki and the city’s hotel occupancy rate grew to almost 70 percent.
City officials say that they are also optimistic about the prospects for 2016.
"After the longest time, we will see the addition of new accommodation capacity of up to 1,000 rooms. We expect that this will cause a positive development in the number of overnight stays and make it easier to bid for international events," Becker said.
Tampere also enjoys visitor peak
Although coming in behind the capital, tourism in Tampere, also broke records in 2015, registering more than one million overnight stays. More than half of visitors – 55 percent – went to Tampere for leisure travel.
Most of the overnight visits were made by local tourists, whose numbers grew by 7.7 percent compared to 2014. By contrast, the number of foreign visitors who stayed in the city declined slightly.
The biggest foreign tourist groups came from Germany, Sweden, Britain and Russia. In spite of the overall decrease in overnight stays by foreign travelers, visits by Germans grew 24 percent, while 38 percent more Russians opted to spend at least one night in the city.