We have collected current information, future prospects and other useful material from the United Kingdom as a tourism market for the Finnish tourism industry. The English language market review is updated twice a year.
Updated April 2023
The UK became the second largest source market for Finland in 2022 with 506,800 overnights. YoY changes +89, however, still -11% compared to 2019. Growth in overnights was shown in both Spring and Autumn compared to 2019, whilst the Summer remains the same.
In December 2022 there were 228,000 overnights from the UK setting a new December record. +19% compared to December 2019.
Finnish Lapland continues to grow and strengthen its position as the most popular choice for a Winter holiday in the Nordics.
Seat capacity from the UK to Finland was 26% below the pre-pandemic during Winter 2022-2023.
Finnair remains the largest carrier in the UK with four daily flights from London Heathrow and one daily flight direct from Manchester, Edinburgh, and Dublin, which serves those travelling from Northern Ireland.
Norwegian fly between Gatwick and Helsinki daily, however, the airline has not resumed their seasonal direct flights to Rovaniemi.
EasyJet flew from both Gatwick and Manchester airports direct to Rovaniemi during the peak season.
There has been a 22% growth from London Stanstead due to flights continuing daily with low-cost carrier Ryanair and they fly to Tampere twice a week.
TUI and other charter flights have increased their UK regional capacity during the winter to keep up with the demand for December Lapland.
UK Media and PR results from 2022 are as follows. The number of hits was 200, and the visibility score was 59%. The brand-building effect was 925m and the publicity value is 1,204,641€ Regarding TV, Apple TV released the new 'Reluctant Traveller' series, starring Eugene Levy. The first episode was set in Rovaniemi, Finland and the viewing figures tell us that the UK is number 3 globally so far. Some other filming is currently underway. (NDA)
UK consumer confidence rebounded in February 2022 to its highest level in almost a year, in a sign of households' resilience despite the cost-of-living crisis. Consumers reported recovering confidence in their personal finances, as well as a growing willingness to make expensive purchases. The inflation stands at 10.1% in January 2023. Housing and bills are the biggest contributors to inflation at 26.7% followed by food and drinks, restaurants, and hotels, all increasing their prices. In February, the Bank of England increased its interest rates for the tenth time in a row to 4%.
So far this year, travel is booming in 2023 and most Brits seem unphased by the cost of living, this is despite conflicting consumer reports that companies have published in the UK media lately. This questions the reliability of these types of reports. Major travel companies and airlines have been reporting an extraordinarily strong start to the year with bookings and sales exceedingly well above 2019 levels. Hays Travel the largest independent travel agent who has experienced record bookings in 2023 say that "People want higher value holidays and longer stays. The evidence from the latest research is that the intent to buy is strong – 82% of people intend to spend the same or more on their holidays." Barclays UK consumer spending report has revealed the amount spent on airlines and travel agents is up 31.5% and 32.3% respectively YoY.
In terms of travel trends, consumers are still revenge travelling, and ticking off countries and bucket lists since the great lock-downs during the pandemic. Multi-destination holidays are on the rise, cruises, and adventure travel. Wellness and activity holidays are still popular, like yoga retreats, trekking and wine tasting. Sustainability remains important and city breaks in Europe are in demand, whilst travel companies are seeing bookings to mid and long-haul destinations rise to Morocco, Egypt, the US, Maldives, Thailand, and Mexico. The cheaper package and all-inclusive holidays are doing well for mid-market travellers.
The UK luxury market is stronger than ever. Premium tour operator Elegant Resorts reported from an annual client survey reveal that over half of their clients would not be reducing the number of holidays they take. They expressed they would rather cut back on other luxuries. The frequency of trips has returned to pre-covid levels with more than 80% of clients planning to take three trips or more a year and 13% planning at least five. "A key development has been how they now prioritise their mental well-being above anything else – leading to an increase in those seeking to indulge in wellness retreats." City breaks are leading the way, with 73% saying this type of trip was highly likely this year, while 54% also opted for a private villa holiday. There is also an increase in luxury incentive travel, as businesses want to reward their top staff with extraordinary experiences and unforgettable memories.
Finland offers beautiful nature and room to roam only 3 hours away from the UK. Finland can provide interesting and cultural city breaks, wellness holidays and adventure in the great outdoors. Finland needs to shout more about its culture and especially up and coming food scene. The UK luxury market is booming still, and Finland boasts so many extraordinary accommodations and bucket list experiences in nature. Customer service levels need to remain high with these comfort seekers.
It is important to consider all year-round packages at different price points to make Finland more accessible to those holidaymakers on more of a budget. Flexible booking conditions are still key to both agents and travellers.
Travel companies are experiencing growth and profit for the first time in some years, due to the increased demand for holidays in 2022 and the beginning of 2023 especially. Many companies have recruited more sales staff to cope with this demand and are looking at working with travel agents to help convert the sales enquiries. It is becoming harder to recruit for events and visit shops because of this situation.
Booking.com, Expedia, and Last Minute are major OTAs in the UK. TripAdvisor, Skyscanner and Kayak are the top comparison sites.
Key TOs that are operating in Finland are TUI (including TUI Crystal Ski, TUI Tours), and Hotelplan (Inghams, Santa's Lapland brands). Canterbury Travels and Destinology, (both part of Brooklyn Travel group), Artisan Travel Company with brands (Aurora Zone, Activities Abroad), Transun. Other key ones include Magic of Lapland, Best Served Scandinavia, (Wexas), Discover the World, Arctic Direct, Magnetic North Holidays, Regent Holidays, Exodus, Baltic Travel, Nordic Experience and Trailfinders.
The role of DMCs for the UK travel companies remains important, especially to the smaller TOs and those less experienced with Finland as a destination. There is increasing demand for those DMCs that also operate multi-Nordic and Baltic destinations. Companies offering luxury products in Finland need very high levels of service for their customers, especially during the busy peak Winter holiday periods.
In terms of flight accessibility, Ryanair continues flying daily from London Stanstead to Helsinki and twice weekly to Tampere. There are some new routes for the winter on the table and in the proposed planning stages. Rail and ferry travel is becoming interesting for the operators, who are seeing their customers enquire and want to travel more sustainably.
The most relevant USPs in the UK market are Santa Claus – The Ambassador of goodwill from Finland, easy access to the Forest, and Live like a Finn. Responsible travel is the freedom to travel. Digital demand Q1 and 2 showed a healthy increase in Brits looking for saunas, cities, and things to do and glass cabins remained popular. Finland owns Santa and the glass cabin for the UK market. We are working on ways to push knowledge of the Finnish sauna with Finland's heritage and rituals. These USPs do drive market planning and Finnish Sauna also relates to the major regions of Finland such as Lakeland, and the Sauna also pushes the Summer and travel all year round.
Northern lights are a major USP for Britons travelling to Lapland, however, there is still some brand awareness needed and there is competition from other Nordic countries.
Luxury is a major theme and luxury travel to Finland is growing in the UK. The demand is matching nicely with the increase in luxury Finnish products. Sustainability is important to UK travellers, and it is key to every activity we do in the UK
The outlook for the Spring and Summer is well below the pandemic. The latest flight booking data reveals that the UK is in the second market position for early Spring-Summer and the third market position for high summer. The change in flight bookings for Mar-May 2023 compared to the Spring pre-pandemic was -27% and Jun-Aug 2023 -14%. That reveals the accessibility from the UK to Finland is still way under the levels from the pandemic. However, this does not take into consideration the bookings with Ryanair.
The trend for last-minute bookings remains high, especially for city breaks. Summer travel in Finland has been the focus of training, events and marketing. Product-wise, bear watching, Lakeland fly drives and cities are popular. Travel companies are reporting interest in houseboats, self-catering accommodation, hiking and multi-city travel in Finland.
The key target groups for the UK are Comfort Seekers, City Breakers and Nature Seekers. These groups represent most Brits travelling to Finland in the summer months. Nature Seekers needs to be more defined as the target could cover a broad range of individuals or groups. They could also be Natural Wonder Seekers, interested in stargazing, or the midnight sun. Active travellers who want gentle or more challenging activities.