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 2023
Since the border restrictions lifted in May, leisure and corporate markets have returned. For European destinations, Spain, France and Italy lead the early stage of the ramp-up phase at the pace of over 50% compared to 2019. Germany is also doing well with the active corporate travelers. Market demands and industry's support are very strong for Finland. We are the top of mind destinations among the Nordic countries. However, the recovery is around 35 to 40% which is the industry average. Eastern Europe destinations have been affected by the war in Ukraine especially among the senior and student segments.
Finish designs are very attractive to Japanese. Movie "AALTO" has been very popular since its release this fall. Politicians and policy makers are benchmarking Finland for its social welfare and education system. Importance of gender equality and wellbeing are growing in the society. Many people are visiting Finland to learn/experience about the Finnish ways of life. Sauna is booming. Finnish touch points continue to spread across the country. This culture is playing such important role in generating travel interests. Northern lights, Santa/Christmas and Moomin remain as the core USP to Finland. Travel agents are featuring them in their products.
Finnair's frequency/capacity remains less than 50% with daily flights to Haneda, 4 time weekly to Narita and 3 time weekly to Osaka. Japan Airlines operate 3 weekly flights to Helsinki. We are expecting more flights in the 2024 summer schedule. Japan routes have been performing very well. Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo will be suspended this winter season. Connectivity to other European countries are not as good compared to the pre-pandemic time due to the new flight operations. Finnair and travel agents are more motivated to promote Finland for this reason.
Japanese travel desire is very strong. However, people are concerned about the economic instability and wars in Eastern Europe and Middle East. Inflation and depreciation of the Japanese currency are the new normal of the outbound tourism. Consumers tend to choose tour packages with tour conductors as they are still concerned about the possibility of another pandemic. Tour conductors offer a sense of security. General consumer sentiment is that we could face a similar pandemic crisis again in the future. For this reason, consumers are looking for more experience out of one trip.
Senior segments are very active. JTB's luxury brand is outperforming its revenue/pax counts in 2019. Its average pricing for European products is around €10000 per person. Demands for business class traveling are very strong in this segment. Honeymooners are also active segments. For Finland, a glass igloo accommodation is appealing to these markets.
Educational group tours for the secondary school students are doing extremely well. Australia is leading the way for its accessibility and safe image. Currency factor is also very significant as it is much more favorable to Japanese Yen compared to USD and Euro. Finland is a relatively new destination in this area. Some key travel agents are preparing to promote Finland as many Japanese educators are interested in our education system. Homestay has been a bottleneck for Finland as it has been the mandatory condition in the past. However, this trend is changing due to Covid-19 pandemic. Some parents prefer hotel stay over the safety concern.
Japanese university students will start traveling heavily in the winter season before their graduation in spring. Northern lights, sauna and city holiday will be the main attraction for Finland this year.
Corporate travelers to Europe, stop-over in Helsinki, are emerging needs.
Airline's strategies have such a significant impact on the market and distribution channel. Good news for Finland is that Finnair remains very supportive to the travel agents. Partnership between Visit Finland and Finnair is considered to be one of the best practices in the industry. Our joint promotions and collaboration in organizing B2B workshops and fam trips are highly valued by the market partners. Inbound traffic to Japan from European countries is prominent. It is critical for us to make sure that we support Finnair's recovery roadmap towards more capacity/frequency on the Japan route.
Korean, Australian and Turkish Airlines are doing extremely well in the early stage of the ramp-up phase. Their business volumes are almost back to the 2019 level. Favorable currency exchange rate is a significant factor. There are no major changes in the business environment compared to Europe and North America except for the rising fuel surcharge and inflation. Hawaii continues to struggle in luring leisure markets from Japan. It is a surprising situation to the industry as it is such iconic destination for a longhaul travel. Airlines such as Air Canada are shifting more towards the direct marketing. Its group booking policy is now very strict. Finland has an opportunity to attract group tours such as education, mice/incentive and technical visits.
Japanese travel agents are much more interested in sustainability. Covid-19 has had a major impact on the minds of consumers and new way of adopting to the global standard. STF program fits very well with the current industry trend.
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. 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.
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
For Finland, we are seeing new demands from the emerging segments such as family, mother and daughter, honeymooners and students. Travel agents are rapidly adopting to match the market needs and trends. Consumers are looking for more experience in addition to the sightseeing attractions as travel is more expensive. People are shifting more towards quality and less emphasis on frequency. For example, while aurora viewing in Lapland continues to be the main products, this theme alone is not convincing enough to the market. Lappish lifestyle and food culture, winter activities, cafe hopping and authentic sauna can enhance the attraction of Finnish tour packages. Visit Finland has been working closely with the top travel agents in tackling this challenge from the product planning stage to the promotion and communication to their customers.
Repeat FIT travelers have been very slow so far primarily due to the rising travel cost. However, they are getting very anxious to visit Finland. We expect to see more of this market returning to Finland in winter season where pricing is more reasonable compared to the summer/fall period.
In 2024, Europe will host some major sports events like Paris Summer Olympic and UEFA EURO2024. Leisure markets will face challenging times in summer. Northern Europe has an opportunity to attract the industry attention. In addition, outlooks is favorable as Finnair will increase its flights to Narita and Osaka, bringing its capacity back to over 50% of 2019 level. We have a good opportunity to grow FIT, package tours, corporate and group business in 2024.