The hidden gem of Scandinavia


April 11, 2017

/ By

India Outbound

March - April 2017

Kristiina Hietasaari - Director, Head of Product & Content, Visit Finland

Kristiina Hietasaari – Director, Head of Product & Content, Visit Finland

Finland, with its thousands of lakes and forests, is a country that boasts of being among those with world’s cleanest air, and of landscapes second to none. From admiring the Northern Lights, to experiencing peace in the countryside and its cottage life, or even wishing to pay a visit to Santa, Finland has a lot to offer.

How does Finland plan to penetrate into the Indian outbound market?

It’s a very interesting market for us, but also a bit challenging because I think that the service providers in the Finnish tourist industry are very small companies and they do not have a lot of resources in developing their services.

I think, we need to learn more about the tastes of the Indian tourists in order to provide them with services as per their needs. Now that many Finnish companies have started to see the potential in the Asian market, they are now very willing to learn and tailor-make the products just for the Indian market.

You also have a big advantage of a direct flight between India and Finland. How do you see playing a part in the evolution of the market?

It’s really an advantage for us and this is the reason that we have such a good connection from many Asian destinations to Helsinki.

We have introduced a special project called ‘StopOver’, which offers tourists who go via Helsinki to other countries in Europe, to stop in Helsinki for five hours or more, or even in the home country for five days, and they don’t have to pay anything extra for stopping in Finland for a while.

This is a perfect opportunity for tourists to get a glimpse of Finland and then, maybe, next time they will just come to Finland and not continue to other European countries.

What sets Finland apart from other Scandinavian countries? What are the unique products of Finland on offer?

There are several things that set us apart from our competitors. According to a research conducted a couple of years ago, Sweden and Denmark represent the Scandinavian culture and the more urban side. On the other hand, Finland is pristine, raw and natural, offering more than just the urban luxuries.

Finland provides a real experience to people and most tourists have acknowledged the fact that the country allowed them to interact with the locals, understanding their ways of life. Nature also plays a big part.

Talking about the nature, one thing that always fascinate is the Northern Lights. What is the response of travellers experiencing these mystic lights?

Northern Lights are the major attraction that people come to see. I also hope that they will understand that it is a natural phenomenon and nobody can guarantee its appearance.

I think that the Finnish Lapland is one of the best places to experience the Northern Lights because there are many areas that are uninhabited and less polluted, which makes for perfect viewing of the Northern Lights.

Our service infrastructure is very well developed in the northern part of the country, and we have many good hotels, making it easy to find accommodation while waiting for the Aurora to appear.

There are other attractions like reindeer and husky safaris. The level of services is very wide.

Indian film industry is huge. How do you position Finland as a cinema destination?

We see that it has tremendous influence on people’s choices and with Finland being not so well known globally, we recognise this platform holding great potential for us to promote our country and make it more attractive and better known.

There are many locales which are unique for film shooting. We will also have an economic incentive for production companies to come and shoot films in Finland.

Destination wedding is a growing trend in India. How is Finland preparing itself as a wedding destination?

We have many companies that specialise in different kinds of groups. So, arranging weddings will not be a big job for them. Also, we have plenty of good locations for arranging big weddings and in Lapland, hundreds of international weddings take place every year. We have amazing chapels made of ice and snow that are really unique.




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