Helsinki once again set new records for cruise tourism in the summer of 2018. The Swedish capital attracted a total of 285 international cruise ship calls during the summer season, amounting to almost 520,000 passengers in total. Germany with 25% and the USA with 24% accounted for almost half of all cruise visitors. In 2017, by comparison, Helsinki attracted 266 cruise ship calls and 478,000 cruise visitors. The summer tourism season in Helsinki was busy in other ways too, with the number of registered overnight stays falling just short of the previous summer’s record. Altogether, the number of overnight stays by foreign and domestic visitors decreased by 1.3 percent during the June-August period compared to the previous year.
“Considering the exceptionally strong growth we had in 2017, the number of overnight stays this summer was still very impressive. Compared to 2016, for example, the number has increased by more than 10%,” says Laura Aalto, CEO of Helsinki Marketing. The strength of Helsinki’s tourism sector is the broad diversity of nationalities visiting the Finnish capital. Even though the number of overnight stays by visitors from typically expanding incoming markets, such as China and Japan, has fallen, this deficit is being compensated by growing numbers of visitors from such markets as Australia and the USA.
“Tourism in Helsinki is growing on a healthy basis thanks not least to the diversity of nationalities coming here. The city of Helsinki wants to ensure that this growth happens in a sustainable manner and on the terms of our local residents. It is important that Helsinki is able to attract visitors who are sincerely interested in our city and who are keen to visit us again in the future,” Aalto said.
Tourist Information staff kept busy throughout the summer
Tourist Information served more than 400,000 visitors this summer. In addition to its locations in the city and at the airport, the Helsinki Helpers also served visitors outdoors at the city centre, at major events and at cruise terminals as well. The Helsinki Helpers began their season this year already in May and continued all the way until mid-September, serving visitors in 11 languages. Altogether they served more than 213,000 visitors, approximately 7 percent of whom were Finnish.
“Visitors to Helsinki in summertime are attracted by the city’s proximity to nature, maritime appeal and restaurants. This year the Helsinki Helpers began their season early, which proved to be a good idea, as the cruise season also began in May and brought a lot of visitors into the city,” said Mari Somero, Tourist Information Manager.
Over the past couple of years, Tourist Information has introduced a new service concept and opened new locations. In addition to its new location inside the Central Railway Station, Tourist Information also served visitors at Helsinki Airport, the Stockmann’s department store and the Info Container next to the Havis Amanda fountain by the Market Square.
“This summer, our new location inside the Central Railway Station served almost 70,000 visitors. The new location was especially appreciated by visitors arriving in Helsinki by train, including from the airport, as well as by other operators inside the station. We are continuing to develop our service concept and will focus next on measuring the customer experience and growing our customer understanding,” Somero said.
City of Helsinki developed tourism together with local businesses and residents
The City of Helsinki is committed to developing tourism over the following years on the basis of its Tourism Roadmap, which was published in June. In addition, concrete development proposals have been invited throughout the summer from local businesses and residents. These proposals will help the City of Helsinki make basic services for visitors even more effective.
Helsinki was awarded at the end of September in the European Commission’s new European Capital of Smart Tourism 2019 competition. The city was recognised for its accessibility, sustainable tourism development, cultural heritage, digitalisation and innovation in tourism offerings.
“The Tourism Roadmap that we published this summer provides guidelines for further developing tourism over the coming years. In addition, we are actively engaged with local businesses and residents to ensure that we are developing in the right areas. Winning the European Capital of Smart Tourism competition was great recognition for us and demonstrates that we are on the right track, but we still have a lot of work to do. For example, the City of Helsinki will be focusing heavily on sustainable tourism in the years ahead together with tourism companies,” said Jukka Punamäki, Special Advisor at the City of Helsinki.