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Current information about British tourism

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 October 2023

Finland's position in the market

The UK perceive Finland to be an efficient, happy, safe, and sustainable country. Although most Brits consider Finland to be a cold and expensive Nordic country, but well-known for Santa and a magical winter wonderland and northern lights. Finnish Lapland continues to grow and strengthen its position as the most popular choice for a Winter holiday in the Nordics.

The UK became the second largest source market for Finland in 2022 with 507,700 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 remained the same.

The UK was the number one market from Dec 22 to February 23 with 341,000 overnights a change of 2% vs 2019. In December 2022 there were 228,000 overnights from the UK setting a new December record. +19% compared to December 2019.

January to June 2023 third largest source market with 200,200 overnights, -16 compared to overnights same period in 2019.

The spending from British leisure travellers was the highest in this period at, 78€ per day and Brits stayed an average of 4 nights in Q2 2023.

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.

Commencing on 16th November and continuing throughout the winter season, EasyJet flights will operate twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays. EasyJet will also continue flying to Rovaniemi from Bristol, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, London Luton and new flights direct to Kittilä from London Gatwick and Manchester during the winter season 2023/24.

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 in 2023 are as follows. The number of hits was 156, and the visibility score was 64%. The brand-building effect was 1.5bn and the publicity value was 3m€.

There has been good TV coverage on Finnish Lapland, 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. The last honeymoon of the weddings featured Finnish Lapland and Apukka Resort in October for the hugely popular reality TV show 'Married at First Sight UK'. Organically Finland has been featured on BBC One's 'Celebrity Race Across the World'. Other filming opportunities are in the pipeline for 2024. NDA 

Consumer trends and behavior

Travel from the UK continues to surprise the industry and is performing exceptionally well beyond Q1 and 2. U.K. inflation came in at 6.7% in September, slightly ahead of expectations and unchanged from the previous month. - The prices of food and beverages fell, but petrol costs have risen. Interest rates on savings accounts have been at their highest and this could be key to being able to spend more in destinations. Travel companies and airlines have been reporting an extraordinary number of bookings and sales exceedingly above 2019 levels.

Recent reports show that most UK travellers are not fazed by the cost-of-living hikes. Booking well in the Autumn for trips into 2024. A recent study by the Civil Aviation Authority's ATOL division found more than four in 10 UK consumers are likely to book an overseas trip before Christmas. Mintel's British Lifestyles report indicated that the holiday market is set to exceed pre-Covid values, with 2023 spending up 13% year on year to £63 billion. Airlines reported contrasting views on demand.

Skyscanner confirmed that 27% of UK travellers have budgeted to spend more on travel in 2024, whilst 41% will spend the same. Value for money will play an important factor in where they travel to for most travellers. In terms of where they will travel to, Europe is still going to be very popular, although long-haul will be interesting, especially in Asia where five-star hotels are still excellent value. 'Luxe-for-less seekers are those travellers spending more for some comfort, for example, a cabin upgrade, airport lounge passes and upgraded rooms. Planning for a special occasion, anniversary, or birthday is popular. City breaks, foodie trips, relaxation and wellness are still popular, with b-leisure trips blurring the lines of business and leisure travel.

Travolution has reported recently that 42% of travellers say climate change will impact the way they plan their holiday in 2024, while more than two out of five UK travellers (43%) say that as temperatures soar close to home, they will use their holiday to cool down elsewhere. Almost four in five of UK tourists (78%) want to try indigenous cuisines in 2024, and heritage flavours are in the spotlight with travellers putting power in the hands of the under-represented. Sustainability came in as one of the top trends with 48% looking for accommodation that has wow-factor sustainability innovation.

Almost half of UK travellers (49%) want to see sustainability in action, while nearly two-thirds (59%) want to see the outside brought indoors with green spaces and plants in accommodations on holiday.

OTA's and travel agents are still the most popular ways to book. AI is being used during the booking process in the UK to plan travel, but only 8% of travellers so far using this tool in the UK.

The booking trends right now that have just been highlighted will be advantageous for Finland. A hidden gem, an attractive destination for its unique cities, culture, food and experiences.

Sustainability and a cooler climate should make it more popular due to Southern Europe heating up. Activity holidays like hiking would be challenging in Southern Europe in such temperatures.

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. For Finnish Lapland having prices ready early for bookings well into 2025 for the travel companies to be able to confirm their clients.

Industry update and distribution channels

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. Travel agents have become a key resource, as recruitment has become very challenging due to companies requiring their employees to be in the office most of the week and talent is looking for more hybrid and flexible working conditions. Companies are reporting that 2024 is going to be the year of travel with some customers booking 6+ holidays.

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, and 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, Jules Verne and Trailfinders. New business development with Travel Up and many TOs looking to expand or develop new products.

Recently, top luxury operator Elegant Resorts put Finland in its European portfolio, after a long time of meetings with Visit Finland and Finnish companies. A full-scale training and marketing activities to boost sales. So far since September, there have been lots of bookings to Finnish Lapland out of the peak season and some with a value of around £60k.

The role of DMCs for the UK travel companies remains important, but most UK operators work directly with the hotels and with a DMC. The smaller TOs and those less experienced with Finland as a destination require this service. There is increasing demand for those DMCs that also operate in multi-Nordic and Baltic destinations, as well as Solo travel companies. Those 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, easyJet will start direct scheduled flights from Kittilä Airport to both Manchester and London Gatwick in the UK in November 2023. The airline will fly the routes twice a week during the winter season 2023–2024.
Rail and ferry travel is becoming interesting for the operators, who are seeing their customers enquire and want to travel more sustainably. Some operators are offering flightless routes to Finland.

P&O Cruises will start their new sailings with ships Arcadia and Aurora Britannia starting next Summer 2024 and sailing from Southampton to Helsinki.

Finland travel USP's

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, ski and things to do and glass cabins remained popular. Finland owns Santa and the glass cabin for the UK market. In fact, the standard of accommodation is always commended compared to other Nordic countries. Finland's wildlife like the reindeer as noted on Lapland's USP is important for UK travellers, as well as the culture in the city of Helsinki. 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 such as Norway and Sweden.

Outdoors and activity products are very much in demand, some UK travel companies are growing their product range. Luxury travel to Finland is increasing in the UK at a rapid rate; and the interest is very high in Finnish Lapland, Wellness, and city hotel products. The demand matches nicely with the increase in luxury Finnish products. Sustainable/Eco travel is important to UK travellers, and it is key to every activity we do in the UK. Operators are reporting that some travellers want to know what sustainable credentials the hotel and experiences offer.

Future outlook and upcoming season

The Autumn has sold well, and most UK travel companies have sold out their allocations for the peak winter booking season in Finnish Lapland, as 2022 had record-breaking overnights, this coming winter season is looking very strong indeed. Sales teams are reporting a high number of those wanting to book activities or find out what the best experiences are in the resort. Ski and Northern Lights are popular with Aurora cabins in high demand. Travellers have much earlier booking windows, but still some last-minute bookings, especially for luxury travellers.

From August 2023 to Jan 2024 data has revealed that flight accessibility is down -26% than pre-pandemic. However, this does not take into consideration the bookings with Easyjet, Ryanair and some of the big winter charter airlines. Seat capacity is +15.7 from 2022 01 November to 28 February.

In terms of products, the UK seeks 4–5-star accommodation and there is plenty of variety in Finland to offer the travellers' requirements. Travel companies are reporting fewer enquiries for self-catering accommodation. As well as being sustainable, good facilities and experiences provided are sought after for UK travellers. Interest in wildlife, fly drives, and travelling the multiple places via the train or boat.

The key target groups for 2023 have been the Comfort seekers, City breakers, and Nature seekers.
There is no one target group for Finland, as there is so much variety in the types of holiday activities and interests in the UK market.

The target group with the most potential in the UK is the Comfort Seekers. This has been endorsed by the UK operators and their growing luxury product inventory and healthy sales. Comfort Seekers seek the cities, LGBTQ+ culture, food, outdoor wilderness, ski, nature, and wellness.

Finland has many national parks, nature close to the city, different seasons, and wildlife, so nature lovers would also be very important. Activities in nature like hiking and biking holidays would fit with nature and outdoor explorers.

 

UK as a source market

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