We have collected current information, future prospects and other useful material from Japan as a tourism market for the Finnish tourism industry. The English language market review is updated twice a year.
Updated October 2022
Finland's visibility continues to be high on themes such as lifestyle, sauna culture and social values such as gender equality and sustainability. When the Prime Minister Sanna Marin visited Japan in May, there were huge coverage especially on the gender equality and social welfare. TV drama series based on a true story of a young girl dreaming of moving to Finland was on the air in October. The main character was acted by a popular celebrity. Lifestyle, designs, moomin and sauna are popular articles covered by fashion magazines and web media .
Finland touch points are spreading. Finnish culture and lifestyle are used in helping local tourism destinations revitalize economy. For example, "Tokachi" region in the central Hokkaido is promoting the destination as the Japanese home of "Avanto." Sauna and Mölkky continue to attract various age groups including university students across Japan. Finland is one of the few destinations which are successful in reaching out to young segments. People are looking for inspiration from Finland on themes like well-being and lifestyle. Finnish touch points continue to play a significant role. Marimekko retail shops, Moomin Valley Park, iittala Cafe, Aarto Cafe and Hyvää Matka are popular stops. There are growing number of Finnish sauna themed venues.
Visit Finland has organized and participated in many consumer events throughout the year. Finnish contents are very popular in helping attract participants to consumer events. Thanks to the media exposures and growing Finnish touch points, Finland has positioned well against the competing destinations such as Nordic countries, Canada and New Zealand, to some extents, Hawaii and Australia for honeymooners, students and families.
The monthly number of outbound traffic has reached 300,000 in August and September. Borders are now open since all the travel restrictions lifted in September. Pent-up demands are definitely there. Consumers are anxious to go overseas. However, possibility to catch Covid-19 is still a big concern among many. In addition, the Japanese government has launched a major promotion so called "Nationwide travel discount" intended to stimulate the domestic trips in Q4. This campaign had some impact on the decision making for the planning to travel overseas.
Travel demands are more diversified especially among the young travelers especially for those who are highly motivated to go abroad. FIT market is driving the bookings. The travel industry is not yet ready to cater to these needs primarily due to the lack of resources at this early stage of the recovery phase. OTAs are gradually gaining presence for the long-haul destinations. Providing good travel information and product contents are very important. Japanese access to visitfinland.com ranks in top3. Updated online information and active communication through SoMe channels are critical. Although, how to reach out to the right target audience always presents a challenge.
Consumers interested in Finland are looking for nature experiences, northern lights, midnight sun, forest & lakes, outdoor activities, culture & lifestyle (Museum/Design), food/Cafe, sauna, mölkky, moomin, santa and shopping. SDGs and connecting with nature are emerging needs. People are looking for more authentic local experiences and inspiration during the visit.
Finland hosted an official delegation from Japan Association of Travel Agents/JATA in August for the first time. The program was conducted after Hawaii and Korea as the first European destination for the Japanese industry. The participants included the key contact persons from JTB, HIS, KNT, NTA, Hankyu and Finntour. It was reaffirming of the travel industry's strong interests to Finland. The delegation reporting was published on JATA's website, a very positive message to B2B distribution in Japan.
An overall outbound business remains around -82% compared to 2019 for the industry. Overnights for Finland has been performing relatively well at the industry average so far. FIT markets have been driving the actual bookings for both short and long-haul destinations. OTAs are increasing the market share while the traditional distribution channels are struggling with the sales of individual package tours in the early stage of the ramp up phase. High-end senior markets and group tours for special Interests have strong motivation to travel overseas with tour escorts. Leading travel agents have been supporting the government's "Nationwide travel discount" programs for the domestic business in Q4.
Accessibility to/from Finland has increased in the winter schedule with Finnair's weekly flights on the newly launched Haneda and 2 flights from Narita as well as Japan Airline's 4 flights from Haneda. Finnair just launched its new Helsinki/Haneda route on 31st October. This new route gives opportunities to travel agents across Japan to sell products to Finland as Haneda is connected with all domestic airports across the country by Finnair's partner Japan Airlines. Tour operators and travel agents are adopting to the Finnair's early morning arrival into Helsinki as most of the shops and restaurants are still closed. Window of opportunities for the new itineraries for sightseeing or activities on this arrival day.
There are some positive signals for December as the booking curve is picking up for both FIT and Groups featuring northern lights and Christmas. The core USP for Finland seems to be outperforming other winter destinations such as Canada. Travelers include honeymooners, 1st time travelers to Finland and aurora repeaters.
Perception of Finland's overall country image continues to be very positive in the market. More and more people are aware of its SDGs ranking and Happiest nation in the world status thanks to the continued media exposures. When the Prime Minister Sanna Marin visited Japan in May, there were huge coverage especially on the gender equality and social welfare. Sauna and Mölkky continue to attract various age groups including university students across Japan. Linking these emerging USP of iconic Finnish lifestyle to the original USP is the key. People are looking for inspiration on well-being lifestyle. Combination of Northern lights and Santa as well as Finnish lifestyle such as designs, authentic sauna experience and cafe/gourmet are strong motivating factors for driving travel bookings.
Travel agents are shifting towards developing Finland mono products. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Nordic circle trip products were very popular in the summer season. According to the feedback from Midnight Sun Workshop and Moi Finland Workshop in Tokyo, buyers expressed interests in extending itineraries including destinations in Lakeland and Coastal Archipelago showcasing authentic Finnish lifestyle.
Products in winter:
Northern Lights viewing, Santa, Christmas, City holiday, café hopping, public sauna hopping, Northern Light viewing, Authentic sauna experience in nature at a resort/cottage, dining experience, Finnish design and fashion, Moomin Museum
Products in summer:
Moomin World/Museum, City holiday, "Connecting with nature" products, heritage, café, public sauna, authentic sauna experience in nature at a resort/cottage, gourmet, Finnish design and fashion
Products in fall:
Northern Light viewing, Ruska viewing, City holiday, café hopping, public sauna hopping, authentic sauna experience in nature at a resort/cottage, dining experience, Finnish design and fashion, Moomin Museum
Finnair's new Helsinki/Haneda route on 31st October opens up new markets. The accessibility to/from Finland has significantly improved not only for travelers in the metropolitan areas, but also for those departing from the domestic airports across Japan with its One World partner network by Japan Airlines. Haneda is within 30 minutes from downtown area with availabilities of various public transportation, shuttle buses and taxis. Booking curve is picking up for both FIT and Groups featuring northern lights and Christmas. The core USP for Finland seems to be outperforming other winter destinations such as Canada. Travelers include honeymooners, 1st time travelers to Finland and aurora repeaters.
Japan's target segments are Authentic Lifestyle Seekers, Natural Wonder Hunters and City Breakers. Target groups are under these segments are Families, Couples, Young Travellers, Honeymooners, Seniors, corporate travelers, group of friends and Working Holiday visa holders. We believe that Finnish USPs are appealing to these consumers.
Much anticipated Working Holiday Visa agreement has been finally reached in 2022. The details have not been published at this point due to the ratification process in progress. This program will offer young enthusiastic people flexibility to live and work part time up to one year. This unique segment usually attracts VFR, Visit Friends and Relatives markets to Finland.
Student group business is a very important part of the business portfolio for B2B distribution. Policy makers and educational professionals are interested in Finland for SDGs, well-being and education systems. This trend has changes dramatically during Covid-19. Travel agents are looking to Finland for new business opportunities.
Capitalizing on the sauna trend, combining it to the hobbies like golfing, fishing, skiing and cycling products could drive the motivation for entrepreneurs and corporate travelers. The market is maturing for "sauna plus" activities.