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Safety as a tourist draw: “There’s nothing to fear in Finland’s forests”

Finland is ramping up efforts to market its isolated cottages and natural getaways to European tourists after a dramatic drop in Russian tourism.

Hirsinen rakennus järven rannalla.
A tranquil – typically Finnish – holiday destination. Image: Arja Lento / Yle

The Finnish tourist industry is trying to attract more foreigners to vacation on its quiet lakeshores. Due to a severe drop in Russian tourism after the rouble lost value, several tourism operators are looking to expand the scope of interested holidaymakers to other areas. The current target is Central Europe.

“The drop-off in Russian tourists has been monumental and so we’ve switched our focus to Europe and Asia. We are definitely looking to gain more visibility on the international stage,” says Maisa Häkkinen, tourism director with the Mikkeli business development firm Miksei.

One step has been to enhance cooperation with the global company Novasol, Northern Europe's largest facilitator of holiday rental properties. Novasol currently coordinates some 40,000 holiday rentals in 29 European countries. Some 50 rental cottages in the Savo region have now been added to the list, with many more in the pipeline. 

The greatest obstacle to the plan so far has been most Finns’ reluctance to let their beloved cabins to outsiders.

“Many Finnish residents prefer to keep their cottage empty over renting it out, but hopefully attitudes will change in this regard,” says Minna Kauppi, Novasol’s marketing director in Finland.

A peaceful oasis

Lakeside cottages with all of the amenities are most popular with foreign tourists, as few are willing to give up any of their creature comforts while on holiday. Yet there is also a tourist segment that is intrigued by Finland’s more traditional bare-bones cottage culture, featuring outhouses and no electricity.

After entering the Finnish market early this year, Novasol is confident that demand will be sufficient moving forward. Kauppi says that Finland’s safety and security are major assets among people on the lookout for a relaxing holiday.

“Safety is going to be the next big thing in tourism. There is nothing to fear in the middle of a Finnish forest. Even the bears run away from you, no matter how badly you would like to catch a glimpse of one,” she says.

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