Helsinki is the latest destination to make it onto the radars of travel fans,with almost 3.5 million overnight stays reported by local accommodation providers last year.
Monthly records were also set in July and December, with year-on-year increases of 18% and 21% respectively.
The overall increase in the number of overnight stays in Helsinki in 2015 was 5%, compared to a marginal decrease of 0.2% for Finland as a whole. Helsinki managed to achieve significant growth despite a collapse of 38% in the number of visitors from Russia – traditionally the largest foreign incoming market for Helsinki – due to the weak Ruble. Helsinki attracted a growing number of visitors within the domestic market (+4%), as well as from many international markets including Germany (+12%), Sweden (+11%), Great Britain (+8%), Japan (+17%) and China (+44%).
Helsinki has systematically sought to attract major events in recent years, and now all the hard work is paying off.
“Events had a big impact on tourism last year. The biggest of these, Gymnaestrada in July, brought 21,000 participants from around the world to Helsinki.”
Tuulikki Becker, CEO of Visit Helsinki
The International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship also attracted a large number of visitors in December, and Japan Week last October helped generate more overnight stays from Japanese visitors.
The number of Chinese visitors to the Helsinki region also saw positive developments last year; for the first time the tourism income generated by visitors from China surpassed spending by visitors from Russia. Russia was also overtaken by Germany, which is now the biggest foreign incoming market for Helsinki. Behind Germany and Russia came Great Britain, Sweden, Japan, the USA and China. The number of visitors from Japan increased by 17% – enough for Japan to overtake the USA as the fifth biggest incoming market.
The average length of stay among visitors to Helsinki last year was 1.7 nights. The room occupancy rate among accommodation providers increased to almost 70 percent in 2015 compared to 68% in 2014.
New records were also set in the number of ferry and airline passengers. Helsinki Airport served 16.4 million passengers in 2015 (+3%), while the Port of Helsinki served 11.2 million passengers (+2.5%). The number of international cruise visitors in turn increased to 437,000 (+4%).
Helsinki expects another strong year for tourism in 2016 thanks to increased accommodation capacity and new attractions.
“The outlook for tourism in Helsinki Region looks bright, as we are finally gaining increased accommodation capacity of around 1,000 beds.” Tuulikki Becker, CEO of Visit Helsinki
Helsinki will also gain several new attractions during the remainder of 2016. These include Löyly, a stunning design sauna and restaurant on the southern tip of the peninsula in Hernesaari, Helsinki Pool, which combines the historic spa heritage of the Baltic Sea with contemporary urban culture right next to the Market Square, and Vallisaari, a recreational island that is opening up to the public. In addition, the Helsinki City Museum will open its new premises on the corner of Senate Square in the historical Tori Quarter in mid-May.