Avoided bankruptcy, but are on their knees: Finnish travel agencies look with lust for Russian tourists

Avoided bankruptcy, but on their knees: Finnish travel agencies look with lust at Russian tourists

Over the past two years, Finland's tourism industry has been “brought to its knees” by the coronavirus pandemic. And to take a different position without the return of Russian tourists, as well as the Chinese, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Massive bankruptcies of tourism in Finland were avoided only thanks to the financial support of the state. Such analytics was voiced by representatives of the local tourist market on the pages of the Finnish media.

Finnish Tourism Association managing director Heli Mäki-Franti said many of the country's tourism companies were helped to avoid bankruptcy solely by “support schemes offered by the Finnish government.” “Many companies that barely survived the pandemic are currently struggling with cash flow issues. Across Europe, we hear the message that companies don't have a financial buffer. Lack of labor force is another problem that can limit the growth of travel companies,” she said.

Experts note that funds are now brought mainly by domestic tourism, which has completely different interests and spending volumes than inbound tourism. In particular, amusement parks and accommodation services in the metropolitan area are suffering. At the same time, in pre-Soviet times, most of the tourists were supplied to the country by Russia, as well as Asian countries, primarily China. So, the share of tourists from Russia accounted for 35% of the total tourist flow, especially in the border parts of the country. The Chinese supplied 20% only to the legendary Finnish “house of Santa Claus”, in Rovaniemi.

As a result, according to Visit Finland Senior Director Christiina Hietasaari, international travel in Finland is recovering much more slowly than in some of the Nordic countries. Including because the Russian and Chinese markets will obviously not return in the near future – and they brought Finland about 1 billion euros a year. “It should be quite a while before the market recovers to pre-pandemic levels,” she notes. While Finland is trying to promote itself in other European regions – in particular, an active campaign is underway in countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands.

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