Increased tourism from Asia gives Finnish Lapland boost

Kittila Airport in Finnish Lapland. Tourism from Asia is giving Finland's Arctic Lapland region a boost after a steep decline in Russian visitors. (iStock)
Kittila Airport in Finnish Lapland. Tourism from Asia is giving Finland’s Arctic Lapland region a boost after a steep decline in Russian visitors. (iStock)
Finnish airport operator Finavia reports rising numbers of passengers transferring to Lapland flights from Helsinki Airport.

The number of travellers on the airline’s Asian routes opting to visit northern Finland bumped up by more eight percent last year. That is a welcome development for the local tourist industry, which has been suffering from a steep drop-off in visitors from Russia.

By far the largest number of Asian transfers were from Japan. The fastest growth, though, was from China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

One of the strongest growth areas for Chinese tourists is the area near Ivalo Airport. The country’s northernmost airport, it lies some 300 kilometres north of the provincial capital, Rovaniemi. According to Statistics Finland, overnight stays by Chinese visitors rose last year by around 70 percent in the Inari-Saariselkä region surrounding the airport.

In 2015, Ivalo posted its all-time passenger record of more than 155,000 travellers, a boost of nine percent from the previous year.

Besides Ivalo, Rovaniemi Airport also scored a record high in passengers, more than 478,000, an increase of eight percent from 2014.

Kittilä leads in charter traffic

During December, the number of people flying to northern Finland was up by 19 percent compared to a year earlier. Kittilä in western Finnish Lapland welcomed 171 charter flights, annual growth of more than 21 percent.

Altogether, the six airports in Finnish Lapland broke the million-flyer milestone last year for the first time since 2008. Last year’s total was over 1,007,000, compared to less than 974,000 in 2014. Branded by Finavia as Lapland Airports, they include Ivalo, Kittilä and Rovaniemi as well as Enontekiö, Kuusamo and Kemi-Tornio, which lies 25 kilometres south of the twin border towns of Haparanda and Tornio.

“It’s clear that Lapland is now attracting tourists as a destination and that travel marketing has begun to pay off. Air traffic to the north has grown and our airports are ready to help Finland get back on its feet,” says Kari Savolainen, CEO of Finavia, formerly known as the Civil Aviation Authority.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  The environmental and social impacts of Arctic tourism, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  Arctic Finland looks for boost from Chinese tourists, Yle News

Greenland: Blog – Greenland pioneers Arctic tourism & mining, Cryopolitics

Norway:  Russia boosts tourism on Svalbard, Norway, Barents Observer

Russia: Currency drama has little impact on tourism in Barents region, Barents Observer

United States: Alaska cultural tourism comes with challenges, Alaska Dispatch News


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