We have collected current information, future prospects and other useful material from South Korea as a tourism market for the Finnish tourism industry. The English language market review is updated twice a year.
Updated October 2023
Accessibility used to be our key asset in the market, with the shortest direct flights from Korea to Europe. While Finnair flies directly between Incheon and Helsinki daily, the flight time is considerably longer due to Russia, which will negatively affect stopover passengers. And the price has gone up these days.
Norway is the biggest competitor, especially in the summer season. In the winter we compete with Iceland and Canada.
In 2023, there was more media visibility related traveling to Finland. There was few episodes in Helsinki and Rovaniemi in travel entertainment TV program (Global Marvel) in Q1, another entertainment program (Earth Arcade season 2) filming in Finland popular in Q2, and a program (School Trip season2) has broadcasted in Q3.
With the end of the pandemic, domestic and foreign travel demand is recovering rapidly. Japan and Taiwan account for the highest proportion of overseas destinations that Korean travelers plan to visit or plan to visit 2023. The most common time Koreans travel is in August and December for a longer travel.
When choosing a domestic destination, consider attractions (tourist destinations, local attractions) the most important thing, followed by travel costs/expenses and food/food culture. When choosing an overseas travel destination, it is noticeable that travel costs/expenses are considered the most, and security/safety is considered the main criterion, unlike domestic travel.
When traveling abroad, shopping at local stores increased the most (24%), and shopping at airport duty-free shops decreased the most on the day of departure. The number of Internet duty-free users before departure does not seem to change significantly before COVID-19 and this year.
To book hotels abroad, Koreans use Agoda (most reasonable price and broad price range), Naver (Easy booking and payment) , Hanatour (as a reliable website) the most.
Activities used during overseas travel include nature/environment experience, swimming/water activities/hot spring/spa visit is the most popular.
Overseas travel has a high proportion of people going to enjoy the trip itself rather than having a special purpose, and lovers and spouses have the highest proportion of people who travel together.
The experiences that Korean tourists really want to experience the culture and food of that country that can only be done in that country.
TO: Kuoni Tumlare, Condor Tour, Very good Tour
Travel agencies : Hanatour, Modetour, Yellow Balloon Tour, Interpark Tour, Hanjin Tour, Chalet travel, etc.
In 2023 Korean Air operates direct to Oslo for package tour in every Tuesday for 5 weeks in Summer with Moomin collaboration for season and the new airline 'Air Premia' operates direct to Oslo every Thursday for summer season (May-mid Aug) for first trial.
Most relevant USPs for South Korean market are: Healthy & Safe travel, reconnect with the nature, and find your happiness. Finnish nature and happiness are strong points for marketing, but need more work to raise consumer awareness in how that can be felt and experienced through travel.
The daily direct flight of Finnair is crucial for attracting tourists to Finland. However, it is always full, and passenger numbers have increased a lot, forcing tourists to travel via other countries. That's why people often change their travel plans from Finland to other European countries. Finland needs to attract more as a destination, not as a stopover via Helsinki.
Helsinki, Rovaniemi, Turku and Tampere with connections to Sweden are the most important regions for Korea.
Sauna, Santa, northern lights, Christmas market, Drinks and food of winter season, winter activities are attractive enough in winter.
We need to introduce Midsummer golf, nature watching, Finnish nature activities with a forest guide, Honeymoon and luxury accommodation.
The strongest themes in the South Korean market are outdoors, education, culture, and luxury. Food and accommodation are also important for Korean travelers.
For those who want to travel abroad, gourmet food and accommodation are the areas where more money is spent. The older you are, the higher the proportion spent on travel and beauty services, while 40-year-olds spend relatively more on transport.
Most Koreans travel individually but full or partial package products are also used. Also, age has an impact on Korean travelers' behavior. People in their 30s are more interested in accommodation while those in their 50s are interested in the tourist destination.
The travel industries are complementing and implementing sustainable policies. Finnair and Hanatour made a MoU of sustainability in early 2023. According to a recent Sustainable Travel Report published by Booking.com Korean travelers are interested in sustainable travel. Even though the consumers have not yet understood the concept of sustainable travel they are accepting the movement of the travel industry. Media has a big role in this change, and they are already discussing what could be done next.
We have new Finland mono-products for 20-30 generation in the 2023-2024 winter season and they are selling well. And the number of educational camps for teenagers increased in 2023.
In 2023, Korean tourists have spent money especially on gourmet food and accommodation. To enjoy gourmet food, visit restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy spectacular views, such as the sea and sunsets, and visit places that are easily accessible, time- and cost-efficient.
New potential product offerings and new target group : Honeymoon and luxury travel
We have now focused on general travel packages, some individual travellers and youth travel in the Korean market. It is a positive sign that Finland mono products are published and operated in general packages, but the number of individual travelers is still low. A media effect that can cause explosive growth like Iceland is needed, or even if it is not, it is necessary to diversify the current single package products so that individual travelers can refer to them. Student tour and public tour are running again.