We have had active discussions among our Finland China Business Club (FCBC) members about the opportunities of increasing Chinese tourism to Finland and the challenges Finland is facing as a potential travel destination. As I am a lazy writer I first list shortly few facts about the Chinese tourism, then I summarize the discussions we’ve had in FCBC and last challenge all the readers to share their ideas on how to attract more and more Chinese tourists to our beautiful country of thousands of lakes.
- In 2011 Chinese made ca. 70 million overseas trips. It is estimated to reach 100 million by 2020. 15 years ago the number was only 5 million.
- Altogether 74.000 Chinese visited Finland in 2011.
- Chinese spent the largest sum of money per visit compared to other foreign visitors in Finland. The sum was 670 € on average.
- Overall Chinese tourists spend around 1.000 $ (770 €) per visit abroad. However, some individuals may spend as much as 100.000 ¥ (~12.000 €) only for shopping.
- Average spending of Chinese is less than that of Western travelers. However, due to increasing number of Chinese travelers the total is high – leaving the Germans and Americans behind.
- Asia, Australia and Europe are the top destinations – in Europe, UK , Germany and France are the most favored destinations.
- Today’s Chinese travelers are looking for comfort, activities and shopping opportunities whilst enjoying scenery and different cultures.
The problem with Finland has been and still seems to be that it is the Finns that do all the thinking for attracting Chinese visitors – though it should be the Chinese themselves. The Chinese that have visited or even lived in Finland know the attraction of Finland the best. Let’s summarize what thoughts and ideas we’ve shared with FCBC members that learnt from our Chinese members.
- Finland itself is not a brand and the country is still relatively unknown – a little mysterious even – in China.
- Chinese do not know what to see and experience in Finland. For example, they go to ski to Switzerland because they know they can ski there.
- Chinese do not know what to buy in Finland. Shopping opportunities are one of the key attractions.
- Some Chinese travelers are also interested in investment opportunities.
- How is Finland different from other European countries? – Finland should offer something special to its visitors. Some ideas e.g. berry and mushroom picking, experiencing traditional Finnish summer cottage, swimming in a lake, hiking in clean nature etc.
- High level of education, advanced society, developed hi-tech sector and Santa Claus support the brand building of Finland as clean & fresh, modern, yet memorable travel destination.
And then finally the challenge! What could be done in order to attract Chinese travelers to Finland?
Some thoughts and ideas:
- Utilization of the Chinese social media. More than 300 million Chinese use it.-Could we jointly make a marketing buzz for Finland? Maybe challenge students to create short videos about our country sponsored by travel companies and service providers? Videos could be published in youku.com or suchlike site.
- Chinese love stories and sharing their experience. How could be boost the story telling and experience sharing in order to make Finland more attractive, interesting and exciting?
- We should engage more Chinese in the improvement of Finland brand in China. Chinese students provide excellent pool of talents for insightful development of tourism activities and promotion. I challenge the students provide their insights and ideas to companies in forms on school assignments and thesises.
- Radical actions should be taken in order to draw people’s attention and interest in vivid China. An FCBC member suggested we could follow the example of “Radical Design Week” held in Shanghai and create a concept of “Radical Tourism Week” and take it to different cities in China. For that we need someone to take the initiative and gather the radical ideas into one feasible concept. Who is it going to be? Volunteers?
These are just few ideas from a common woman inspired by resourceful FCBC members. Please, feel free to comment and add your ideas. Let’s take the “Brand Finland” to China and warmly welcome Chinese visitors to Finland that they eagerly want to see and experience!
Picture: Helsinki South Harbour – taking the travelers across the Baltic Sea (www.portofhelsinki.fi)