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Current information about Spanish tourism

We have collected current information, future prospects and other useful material from Spain 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 is well known as a winter destination in Spain, mainly Lapland area that is considered an expensive but unique destination offering a wide range of products comparing to our competitors. Nordic countries are trendy destinations in Spain; a fantastic opportunity for Finland to develop and grow in all areas and to gain popularity as an all-year-round destination.

The post pandemic times has managed to reinforce the image of Finland as a Safe & Sustainable country, Unspoiled Nature-Cleanest air & water, Experience "Natural Luxury", Slow life in nature and "Room to roam".

Even though the travel from Spain to Finland is quite in balance between winter and summer, there are clear peak months in the overnights in Finland – December for the winter and July-August for the summer. We are by far the first destination chosen by the Spaniards in winter and where Norway is the first option regarding summer. There are plenty of opportunities to develop our summer –autumn products in the market especially for Lakeland & Archipelago as part of our all-year-round offer.

City breaks are also quite important when thinking of further development of Helsinki region, where culture and live like a local experience are the topics that arouse the most interest in the Spanish guests. The opportunity to develop Helsinki as stop over can give way to de-seasonalize and get to know nearby areas such as Tampere and Turku with an average stay of two nights in Helsinki.

Seat capacity from November 2023 to March 2024 is about -12% less compared to pre pandemic times. Main source cities in Spain for current bookings to Finland in Nov/2023-Feb2024 shows +89.7 % versus 2019, positioning Spain as the country with the highest estimated growth in all markets.

We had new records for the Spanish visitors in Lapland region during high winter season 2022-2023,and the forecast for this winter of 2023-2024 suggests that these records may even be broken, largely due to the significant increase in charter product offerings in Lapland compared to the previous year (+20% YoY).

Finnair has recovered its operations from major cities all around Spain including Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, Málaga, Balearic & Canary Islands from last year; nevertheless, their flight capacity is still -20% less compared to 2019. The good news regarding Finnair is that the seat capacity from Spain to Finland for Nov/2023-Feb/2024 is up by +8.1% when compared to the same dates in the previous year.

Iberia airlines is also starting their direct flight operations from Madrid to Rovaniemi staring next 2nd of December until February 10th, 2024, with 2 weekly flights: big milestone and great visibility for our destination in the Spanish market.

In addition to Helsinki, starting from December 2, Vueling will establish a direct connection between Barcelona and Rovaniemi, and will operate twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday, until January 13.

Norwegian restarted their operations from Spain (Málaga, Alicante, Balearic & Canary Islands) in 2022.

Ryanair started to fly from Alicante and Girona to Helsinki and Air Baltic from Malaga to Tampere since 2022.

Our country brand is present in various channels thanks to all the actions / activities that have been put in practice with our main local trade partners. We are also present in the main fairs for the B2B such as FITUR or IBTM. The scope of our coverage in the media (press, radio, and TV), interviews, has increased exponentially in the last year thanks to the valuable collaboration of our local PR agency that provides great opportunities to promote Finland's brand and country image including interviews with the person in charge of Visit Finland's operations in Spain.

According to the European Travel Commission (ETC), predictions show that Spain will be the most visited at an inter-European level in 2025, ahead of France, (12.9% Spain & 12.4% France) which give us opportunities for developing traffic between Spain and Finland.

Consumer trends and behavior

Spaniards are longing for nature: in the last summer holidays there was a big growth of the "green Spain destinations" where nature, social distance and relaxation are the main USP´s. Slow and sustainable tourism, visit small and medium sized cities, luxury tourism, health, and wellbeing and of course nature experiences are the top trends for 2023. This is a great opportunity to develop summer in Finland in 2024.

Finland´s USP´s: Happiness & Calm / Forest & Nature / Wellbeing & Sauna / Sustainable & Responsible Travel match perfectly with future Spanish traveler needs. Nordic lifestyle is trendy; take advantage to position Finland as the most sustainable & desirable destination within these countries. Culture & heritage, nature, big cities, and wellness will be the most sought –after experiences.

Authentic travel is also important, with many travelers wanting to immerse themselves in a total cultural change, with more than half (59%) wanting to experience new destinations and cultures and four out of ten (42%) saying they love discovering the local gastronomy when you are away from home. To soak up the local culture, 12% plan to take an "extended vacation" of three weeks or more in one destination.

Following a study from "Passport Photo Online" about the impact of heatwaves on tourists' travel trends, nearly 94% of travelers have noticed a change in the frequency or intensity of heatwaves in recent years. Furthermore, more than 77% of the respondents stated that it is likely or very likely that they will consider the potential heatwaves when planning their vacations in the future: cool down in the Finnish summer!

According to the European Travel Commission's (ETC) latest report, 'Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel, published 26th of October, 68% of surveyed Europeans plan to travel between October 2023 and March 2024. This represents a slight drop of 2% compared to the same period last year.

Due to the current situation with the conflicts in Ukraine and the recent outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Palestine, some destinations in the Middle East, such as Egypt and Jordan, have experienced cancellations. It is believed that to some extent, this could benefit the increase in intra-European tourism, where Nordic destinations are perceived as safe.

Travelers expect premium experiences: this year, 44% of Spanish travelers plan to invest more in their vacations than in 2022, and only 11% will spend less money.

Sustainability is a fundamental factor when deciding on holiday plans for Spaniards, since 69% indicate that environmental aspects now have a certain impact on their preparations. Almost four out of ten (39%) say they are aware of the environmental impact of their vacations, while 30% go so far as to say that environmental aspects condition their travel plans, and they only spend in companies that have a positive environmental impact.
However, sustainability, by itself, does not represent a definitive factor when choosing a destination.

The intermediation role of travel agencies continues to be key when it comes to prescribing our destination. However, the pending subject continues to be digitization in the channel to adapt to the demands of the market.
There will be an increase in tailor-made trips at the expense of tourist packages. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are also playing a particularly important role in Spain when future guest thinks of booking their own holidays (i.e., fly & drive in Lakeland, summer season).

As a distribution channel, OTAs are the key to the development of new opportunities in the Spanish market especially in the summer season, where the dynamic packages play an important role in product development at this time of year.

Considering the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics on Spanish travelers and their online shopping behavior, 51% have booked their stays online and 73% their hotels through, which further supports the relevance of OTAs as a distribution channel. 

Industry update and distribution channels

The outlook for 2023 is quite positive despite we don't have same connectivity levels as in 2019 (-20% according to latest TourSpain statistics). The recovery would be driven primarily by the demand for domestic and intra-European travel. Domestic travel is expected to exceed its pre-pandemic peaks in 2023 while intra-European travel is expected to be 35% lower in volume than in 2019. We even hope to surpass 2019, which was a record year for the arrival of Spanish tourists in Finland, in this year 2023.

According to travel agencies, the average ticket price per trip for the year to date has increased significantly compared to 2022. Even though the average length of stay may be reduced, travelers are not holding back on expenses, which has benefited the flourishing of small agencies and travel designers specializing in luxury tourism.

In the last 3 years, new business opportunities have been created, including OTAs and small tour operators specialized in the luxury segment and adventure travel and activities besides the "traditional big TO´s". It should also be noted that they have even suggested fresh players in the market whose main development strategy is based on sustainability and digitization and that they match perfectly with the Finnish tourism offer in the Spanish market.

Big OTA´s like eDreams achieves greater personalization of trips thanks to Artificial Intelligence; by receiving tailor-made travel proposals, users are more likely to complete their reservations after doing a search. By receiving tailor-made travel proposals, users are more likely to complete their reservations after doing a search.

The last international edition of the Tourism Innovation Summit (TIS), held in Seville in October, has highlighted the importance of new technologies and sustainability for the travel industry and the interest of our B2B partners in developing these new technologies, including AI, to be more competitive and offer a personalized and 360-degree travel experience to travelers.

In relation to the activities of Visit Finland in our market, it is worth highlighting that we hosted a face-to-face workshop in Madrid & Barcelona 26 & 28.09.23 where our Finnish partners had the chance to meet with more than 150 buyers. In the year 2023, we have participated alongside our key partners in more than 35 events in various cities across Spain, presenting Finland as a sustainable destination to travel agents, along with our training tools for these professionals.

Another important aspect of our activities is focused on the congresses and incentives segment and together with the Finland Convention Bureau we participate in specific industry events such as "MIS" in Madrid last February and "IBTM" that will take place in Barcelona at the end of November.

Looking ahead to early 2024, we will be present at FITUR, the international Tourism Trade Fair, that will take place from 19th to 23rd January 2022. FITUR is quite well known as the global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade fair for inbound and outbound markets in Latin America and it is one of the world's largest tourism fairs, surpassed only by ITB or WTM.

DMCs and incoming agencies play an essential role in developing Finland's potential in the Spanish market. The prominent role of these companies is accentuated considering the strategy of seasonal adjustment and sustainability carried out at Visit Finland.

Connectivity and accessibility from Spain to Finland has been strengthened thanks to Finnair's commitment to increase the offer of seats from several cities in Spain, as well as the entry of other airlines into the market with new routes (Iberia, Vueling, AirBaltic or Ryanair), as previously mentioned. 

Finland travel USP's

Nature, together with the pursuit of "Finnish happiness", are the main strengths of our offering as a travel destination. Nevertheless we cannot forget that sustainability and responsible travel have gained a lot of strength during the pandemic. Santa Claus is one of the icons that has attracted the most to the Spanish travelers for many years. The Lapland region is undoubtedly the best-known area in Finland for the Spanish market.

Main USP´s in the Spanish market:
• Strong consolidated winter image in the market
• Quite positive country perception: reliable, safe (social distance guaranteed), reputable education, clean air & water-#FinlandWorks
• "Natural Luxury" –Unique experiences in nature.
• Finland as a sustainable leading country in the Nordics.

Finland is number one in terms of winter destination among the Nordic countries, thanks to its complete tourist offer and strengths. Connection with nature and the attractiveness of Santa Claus continue to be the two unique and differentiating arguments that motivate the future Spanish visitor to travel to Finland. Undoubtedly, these USP's are powerful sales arguments when deciding which destination to visit in the Nordic countries.

In addition to Lapland in winter, there is an exciting potential for further development of other geographical areas in Finland all year round and not only in winter. And that's where other USP's come into play, such as being the country of lakes and sustainability as an axis of development not only for the tourism industry but also as the Finnish lifestyle: live like a local experience.

Luxury, Culture & Lifestyle, Outdoor activities & Sports, Wellbeing & sauna are the strongest themes in the Spanish market.

There is no doubt that the interest towards sustainability and the enthusiasm of people to travel again after more than a year of pandemic has increased exponentially, it would not be realistic to consider sustainability as the main reason for the future visitor from Spain to choose their next destination. Therefore, we must be able to adapt to the market and model our message on sustainability, considering that the Spanish market is not as mature in this regard, compared to other Central European markets. 

Future outlook and upcoming season

As for product segments and once normality is restored, the most sought-after experiences among Spanish travelers in domestic and international travel will be culture and heritage, nature, big cities, and wellness.

The increase in capacity and connectivity from Spain, together with our efforts to deseasonalize the destination and give our local partners the opportunity to develop the tourist offer in Finland, as it does all year round, places us in an exceptionally good position to face this year with optimism. The Spanish market is also one of the priority markets when it comes to developing the business potential of Eastern Finland through different activities.

According to Oxford Economics, Spain already reached the expenditure levels of pre pandemic times in 2019 and expected 12% more average expenditure of our guests in 2023. For the overnights, it is expected that we will reach the levels of 2019 next year, in 2023, ahead of most of our international markets.

The luxury segment/product has proliferated compared to pre-pandemic times, thus becoming a flagship product for specialized tour operators.

In addition, new players have emerged in the B2B world, basing their strategy on sustainability and digitization matching perfectly with the tourist offer of Finland in Spain.

Other interesting product offers for the future Spanish visitor that are based on the main themes, such as the cultural offer, outdoor activities all year round or products related to well-being and sauna, have a future development path in the coming years.

Based on the main topics and products with the development potential mentioned above, we hope that the axis of sustainability will gain importance in the coming years and become eventually the main reason that drives Spaniards to travel to Finland.

Our target groups are framed within the strategy that we have designed for the Spanish market until 2023. We believe that they are very aligned with our tourist offer and the interests of Spanish travelers, when choosing Finland as destination for their next vacation. Without a doubt, the luxury sector has an important development potential, as well as nature related products and outdoor activities, and experiences in coexistence with the inhabitants of the country to discover their culture.

For the upcoming season, as mentioned earlier, we expect to break the record for Spanish visitors to Lapland, surpassing even the levels of 2022, becoming the second or third most important market in Lapland in December. 

Spain as a source market

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