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 May 2023
Finland is not well known as a travel destination, and many consumers lack of information written in Korean. However, Finland is famous in the market for it's education system, nature, welfare, and cleanliness.
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 price is getting more expensive nowadays. However, for those traveling to North Europe, the route is still attractive.
Finland is combined with other Nordic countries in a multi-country itinerary, thus we are mainly competing with the other Nordic countries for overnight stays. Especially Norway is the biggest competitor in Summer season, because Norway take half of many Nordic travel products and the half itinerary is shared with Denmark, Sweden and Finland only 1 night stay in capital city or overnight in the cruise.
In the winter season we have the advantage as Finland is during winter considered more as a single-country destination, and other Nordic countries are less popular in the winter. During winter we compete with Iceland and Canada for visitors. Northern lights and Iceland's Ice caves are popular but travelers said one-time-visit is enough due to less impact and high price. For Canada, affordable price, visiting Quebec as known for filming sites of famous Korean drama, and easy to combine travel to USA for long holiday can be the reason to visit Canada. In terms of our offering, Switzerland can be considered as another year-round competitor with similar travel motivations.
Recently there are more interests from media.There was one episode in Helsinki by travel entertainment TV program, and there is another entertainment program made by one of top PD in Korea take filming in Finland will be air in mid May.
Consumers have been focused on travel near countries. The type of travel companion, which was limited to "people" has changed dramatically in 2020. For the first time, "pets" have been added to the companion type.
People book semi packages (flight and hotels), a day tour program, culture experience program such as cooking class via OTA or TA' websites.
In some years, sales on TV homeshopping makes hit record in one time as a strong traditional channel, but sales in Live commerce platform drags more consumers for long period. So travel companies also sell their products in live commerce or have their own in their website.
What consumers look from Finland is clean air and nature, unique activities, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences (Northern lights, white nights). The best way to serve the travelers is by providing clear and detailed information about services and arrangements, preferably having it in Korean language. The reason of desiring clean air is Koreans are geographically exposed to yellow dust every spring and fine dust from domestic and nearest country.
In 2022, the recovery rate was 30% compared to before COVID-19, and industry expects a 75% recovery rate in 2023. 20-40 Generation still prefer individual travel, but the proportion of package reservations for 20-40 generations increased by 40% compared to 2019 in 2022. (by YB tour) In particular, a semi-package consisting of a guided tour and free time is in the spotlight because it is safe and they can enjoy activities in small groups. Product diversity is needed.
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.
Finland "owns" some USPs but we need to develop and promote more. At least Korean travelers know Santa village in Finland, but they don't know where they can find Christmas Market which definitely has different mood to Korean.
Our Northern lights and white nights are other very strong selling points with good weather for traveling as same as weather of Korean spring and fall. Midnight golf can be the selling point for Koreans, but is there any platform to book a time, rent equipment and check golf sites? For the winter season Northern lights, Christmas market, staying in an igloo/or glass hotel, reindeer farm (feeding and sleeding) and Santa are the most important selling points.
It would be very good to have some info in Korean about sites with a story or history, nature and something for shopping, eating, sightseeing such as Fiskars village, Kultaranta Presidential garden, Pyynikki observation tower and cafe, Parppeinvaara Bardic Village, Home of Jean Sibelius. There is no information on the Korean market.
Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG ) effects every industry. But the action points are in early stage in travel industry. Last year, Seoul International travel fair, they covered sustainable travel as main subject but they need more advanced cases as examples.
The recovery has began from nearby South East Asian destinations, whereas travel to Europe will take longer time to resume. With longer flights to avoid Russian airspace we can expect very low number of stopover passengers, which will slow the recovery slightly.
However, new Finland mono-products for 20-30 generation during winter 2022-2023 season has sold out with good feedback. The first dual country product covering Finland and Sweden in winter and summer hiking products have good results in 2022. And the educational camp for teens last summer 2022 has done well and keep doing it for this summer as well. In 2023, look forward to positive outcome.
There are few but new demands : one-month living (staying 2-3 weeks during school vacations for family with young kids) and traveling with a dog.
Finland and the Nordics will have an advantage as we are thought of as more safer countries than majority of global destinations. There are no major changes in target groups; younger generations (20-30s) and families with children remain the main target groups. Group travel is expected to decrease even more, as travelers prefer independent travel (still booked through local TA:s for operation safety and easy communication reasons).