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Current information about German tourism

We have collected current information, future prospects and other useful material from Germany as a tourism market for the Finnish tourism industry. The English language market review is updated twice a year.

Updated October 2023

Finland's position in the market

Finland and the Nordics are gaining a momentum as widely safe and problem free area and relatively close to main European source market in travel. Within the Nordic context Finland is a leading winter holiday destination in Central Europe.

When thinking other seasons we lack fjords, volcanoes and similar nature wonders and the Finnish culture is least known of the Nordics. This again gives possibilities to develop travel as many ways of holiday making Finland has ideal conditions be it hiking or finding your happiness at a resort or mökki. Germans are pros in holidays and need practical information concerning holidays offers and what to do.

The importance of flight connections can't be underestimated, as for example Sweden and Denmark are easily reachable with a car and train so they already have a head start when comparing accessibility.

Generally the pandemic and geopolitical tensions have changed Finland's possibilities as well: different crises have "closed" many destinations, we are 20 % behind in airline seat capacity between Germany and Finland. Together with inflation and fossil fuel crisis, travel has become more expensive and safety plays a bigger role. Many destinations see high price increases between 20-40 % in the fall of 2023

Accessibility is a key topic when developing travel to Finland. Lapland gained a momentum 2016 and managed to make a quick recovery in the winter already reaching pre pandemic level 2022. Now the first summer/ autumn charters are coming to Lakeland and Lapland with positive feedback from the operators and interest to develop the summer further.

In 2022 Finland's visibility was record high due to the NATO process. Since then, the positive media coverage has taken on a darker tone due the uproar around the new government in the summer, which gained plenty of publicity also in Germany. However, the amount of negative visibility has been a lot less lately.

Consumer trends and behavior

Consumers are trying to play safe which seem to have two main characteristics:

1. It seems that online channels are winners in Germany. The classic travel catalogue and numerous promotions linked to printed offers is at stake as consumers decide impulsively when and where to travel. This goes along with digital media and influencers coming closer to the point of sale.

2. The role of tour operators remains high during crisis with better booking conditions and consumer safety. Some statistics claim that 75 % of booking are done at travel agencies now, as consumer are afraid to lose their money or to be stuck in a crisis area. German travelers with fixed holiday periods like school kids are usually careful and book at classic channels.

Travelling with the own car or a camper has been a winner and overland travel with public transportation has become trendy. During the pandemic the camping areas have been fully booked in Germany.

Nature experiences, sustainability, camping, biking, and hiking remain the biggest trends at the Finland audience during summer.

Majority of the summer visitors book only a part of the trip before departure. We should try to steer the business more to booking channels as it has many benefits for the destination like preparing services or even staff. Also the customer that books at established channels mainly gets good information and finds way to services.

This year again we have numerous complaints about services been closed during summer. Now we must define summer maybe first. For Germans the summer is generally May-September. Travel season kicks off with long Easter holidays and ends in October with autumn school holidays.

Industry update and distribution channels

Lack of staff is one of the hottest topics which influences production, sales, and marketing at tour operators and throughout the service industry. The additional need of advice and overlapping booking and production periods are adding up to the lack of staff. This creates many challenges: from supplier side patience, speed and flexibility are important.

Now the inflation, recession in economy and remarkable price increases are starting to influence more and the post pandemic freedom to travel-burst is eventually over.

Winter is developing well, also bookings for the coming winter at ForwardKeys put Germany on top with 76 % plus yoy in November-February 2024 sales and with 18 % market share also on top as source market for Finland globally. Swiss and Benelux markets are performing very well in the winter.

Distribution channels in Germany are unique globally as there a strong tour operator-travel agency network with 50 % market share in all leisure trips. At this moment some 600 tour operators offer leisure trips to Finland. Most of the tour operators offer just 1-2 trips as group couch tour and usually purchased at a package tour operator like SRG, which brings a large volume of overnights together with its direct selling operator SR Travel.

For classic package tour operators touring is the main product in the FIT segment and the range of operators is big from global players like Der Touristik to small boutique travel agencies with themed tours. Tuja Reisen, Fintouring, Wikinger Reisen, Arktis Tours, Vianova Reisen, Feelgood Reisen, Kingfischer Reisen, Zonista are a few of the better known tour operators with a Finland offer.

A common misunderstanding is that travel agency bookings are "offline". Today only a few tailored tours are "on request" manually and can be a part of a complex upmarket service for customer that wish something special. Also, this part of the business is transferring to DMCs as the tour operators do not have enough resources for extensive own production.

The role of incomings and DMCs is increasing of two reasons mainly: lack of staff and guest management in the destination as the pandemic has challenged the travel industry hard. We lack national DMC offers for individual travelers and the content should preferably be online "one click shop" for tour production and sales. Guaranteed departure group tours are another area where we seem to lose to other internationally operating DMCs.

New route openings are coming to Lapland from Switzerland, Austria and Germany and we can see the business spreading not only in Lapland but also Munich-Oulu is a new double weekly route from Lufthansa. Also Tampere and Savonlinna are increasing their accessibility.

Finland travel USP's

Nature combined with Finland other main USPs happiness, freedom to roam, thousand lakes and Finnish wellbeing sauna are all highly potential for our audiences and a dream come true combination in Germany. Safety and sustainability play an increasingly big role in travel decisions.

Finland owns Santa Claus and it works in Germany. Christmas is one of the main holidays with new year celebration which are often combined, and both together form a peak winter travel season.

Are our USP strong enough to drive business? Absolutely, but we might lose the client if we do not give availability for our products. Especially online channels are not "on request" and a clear "call to action" is critical for success.

We should also remember key selling points which complete our promise for the chosen holiday. Be it Winter Wonderland with huskies and Northern lights or chilling at your own rented cottage at your own beach enjoying the endless light during the summer clear & easy narratives should be used to inspire our prospects.

Main products are touring, cottage holidays, city breaks and winter holidays. Ideally our content is based on main products, USPs and key selling points should define the communication.

Sustainability is something we can own with the other Nordics and maybe we should conclude that sustainability is always inclusive in a Finland holiday. Now for ca. 8 % sustainability is the decisive factor when choosing a holiday product but around 70 % are reacting positively to the theme. In other words: Sustainability can be a competitive advantage for Finland and sustainable holidays in Finland should sell well on the German market.

Sustainability is a generational issue also, millennials and younger are highly aware of the environment. The message for the end customers might have to be communicated also in a B2C campaign. Alternatively, effortless ways to show that a hotel that activity is green should be included in the B2C booking channel (be able to mark the hotel in, in GetYourGuide and so on.)

Future outlook and upcoming season

It seems the holiday trends that became dominant during the pandemic remain on top as geopolitical tension continues limiting travel. Most Germans travel in Europe for summer holidays in 2023.

The winter brought good recovery to our international winter destinations and the outlook remains positive. Now the high energy prices and inflation is starting to nag the "reiselust": we still have less products on the market, less airline seat capacity and some segments like business travel have been hit harder. On top of this, the geopolitical crisis is evolving in a financial and resource crisis that influences consumers and our possibilities to increase demand.

However Lapland in winter has strong demand also coming winter, where German and Swiss bookings are rocketing with over 100 % per month increase according to ForwardKeys. Here the demand is likely to spread to neighbors but also south of Lapland has a momentum to increase given the reasonable accessibility.

Workation might be the big thing as home office could be a holiday home office in Finland and new work concepts with access to business centers or team projects with incentives might turn strong.

We also see mass sports events growing and attracting more international visitors. The bookings come very early and linked to longer stays with families' groups of friends this is definitely something to develop more.

Nature will remain our key USP and nature lovers our main target group. Good news is that nature is strongly increasing in importance, is seamlessly linked with sustainability. The combination could make Finland stand out in the future if we manage to link to actionable content like happiness products.

Millennials have become the main audience also in Germany. They are the next mökki generation, where the X went long haul the millennials have different values, see previous chapter.

Different niches like gravel biking could grow major and being there on the markets when trends are establishing themselves might be the affordable way for sustainably growing the Finland fans.

Also WHOPs (wealthy, healthy, older people) remain eager travelers with plenty of time and big resources, often in groups and making use of the low season rates.

Germany as a source market

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