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Ajankohtaista tietoa Espanjan matkailusta

Olemme keränneet Suomen matkailuelinkeinolle ajankohtaista tietoa, tulevaisuuden näkymiä ja muuta hyödyllistä materiaalia Espanjan matkailumarkkinasta. Englanninkielinen markkinakatsausmateriaali päivitetään kaksi kertaa vuodessa.

Updated March 2022

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 great opportunity for Finland to develop and grow in all areas and to gain popularity as an all year round destination.

The pandemic 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.

Finnair has recovered its operations from major cities all around Spain including Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, Málaga, Balearic & Canary Islands from June 2021. Vueling also started direct flights between BCN and HEL last June. Also, Norwegian restarted their operations from Spain (Málaga, Alicante, Balearic & Canary Islands).
Finnair is increasing their capacity from Madrid to Helsinki if we compared it to summer 2019. In addition, Ryanair will start to fly from Alicante and Girona to Helsinki (from the end of March) and Air Baltic from Malaga to Tampere (since the end of April); this is great news, as it will create new opportunities to develop the market.

Between December 2021 and January 2022 several charter flights from main cities in Spain including MAD/BCN operated to KAO, IVL, KTT and RVN in Lapland: almost 30% increase of these flights compared to the same period in 2019. This meant a record in arrivals of Spaniards to Lapland in winter 2021: 37.400 monthly nights spent in DEC 21 (+13% Versus DEC 19) placing Spain as 4th European market after Germany in overnights to Finland in December 2021 and 3rd largest market in Europe in arrivals to Lapland in December 2021.

Our country brand is present in various different 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) 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.

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 2021. This is a great opportunity to develop summer in Finland in 2022.

Finland´s USP´s: Happiness & Calm / Forest & Nature / Wellbeing & Sauna / Sustainable & Responsible Travel match perfectly with future Spanish traveler needs after the pandemic.
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 once normality is restored.

According to the Braintrust's latest study of 2022, travel agencies will become very important after the health crisis caused by the coronavirus. For travelers, aspects such as safety, comfort, advice and treatment are the most valued factors according to this survey. The behavior of travelers will change, because they will demand more information and advice to help them make their trips more safely, and here the agencies are going to play a very important role.

The travel agency will become a unique and different channel where agents will put their knowledge and experience at the service of travelers, which will serve to give personal advice to ensure a safe trip. The role of the travel agent will become more important than ever. Even new traveler profiles, such as young people, will turn to travel agencies in able to ensure that the essential health protocols are taken into account in the trip planning for national as well as international travels.

As for the channels used, there might be two different models: the concentration of distributors in large online groups, which may be joined by technological giants such as Amazon and Google, and greater weight of platforms and hybrid models such as Tripadvisor, Airbnb and Booking, and other similar ones that may arise. Second model would be the hyper-specialization of small operators in products or activities for more complex micro segments and markets.(i.e. luxury segment).

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).

According to the latest study from "Booking.com" published in February 2022, the pandemic has changed behavioral habits in terms of the preferences of the Spanish traveler, highlighting several aspects when choosing the future vacation spot: well-known and nearby destinations (also European), places outdoors in the middle of nature, "slow travel" (which implies longer stays), more exclusivity, luxury and "hyper personalization" of the trip, more flexible reservations and contracting conditions, and of course that the destination itself is safe in terms of sanitary and health measures.

Of course, without forgetting the sustainability of the destination that has emerged as a game changer in the mentality of the Spanish when choosing their next destination. It is important to highlight in this sense that the traveler from our country wants to see the practical application of the sustainability measures that the destination is applying carbon footprint, collaboration, and projects with local communities, etc.

Latest Travelzoo study in February 2022 shows that the desire to travel is making a strong comeback, the short term is maintained in decision-making and reservation processes. More than 50% of those surveyed state that they will book their stay less than three weeks in advance. The duration of stays also changes with respect to recent years. In 2022, 65% of those surveyed will book 2-3 hotel nights per getaway and 28%, up to 7 nights.
As for the Spanish traveller, the data extracted by "Travellyze" shows that the number of Spaniards who plan to travel more than once a year has increased by 2% compared to last year. It would go from 14.5% in 2021 to 16.8% in 2022. In addition, the percentage of Spaniards planning to spend between €3,000 and €5,000 in 2022 increased by 3 % to 18 %.

As for the sources of inspiration when choosing a holiday destination, recommendations from friends and family are the most important for Spaniards, followed by recommendations and comments from TripAdvisor-type websites (65.2%) and the main social network, Instagram, which inspires 60.9%. In fact, the influence of Instagram is even greater among those born after 2004, since for almost 100% of Generation Z, Instagram is the main resource when dreaming about a trip.

According to a recent survey from Amadeus regarding global Booking Lead time from Spain to outbound destinations in Europe, almost 42% of bookings are made same month of travel.

Industry update and distribution channels

The outlook for 2022 remains positive, however, according to the European Travel Commission (ETC). ETC now estimates that travel demand in 2022 will be only 20% below the pre-pandemic levels. 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 2022 while intra-European travel is expected to be 35% lower in volume than in 2019.

A recent study published by "Agenttravel", leading trade media, last 21st March shows that approximately 50% of travel agents believe that Easter bookings have recovered and that the average spend per customer has increased.

Latest survey to the managers in the retail and wholesale travel agency sector in Spain reflects moderate optimism: after the good momentum of the last months of 2021 until the arrival of omicron, professionals in the sector remain hopeful of recovering 2019 levels at the end of 2022.

However, 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.
In relation to the activities of Visit Finland in our market, it is worth highlighting that we will host a face-to-face workshop in Madrid & Barcelona 26.- 27.10.22 where our Finnish partners will have the chance to meet our top local buyers.

Without forget the roadshows that we will conduct with our main partners in different cities of Spain in search of business development opportunities outside the main capitals and that will take place before and after the summer.

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 (AirBaltic or Ryanair), as I previously mentioned in the first part of this report.

Therefore, today the outlook for this 2022 is very encouraging, although we will need to see the impact of the current war in Ukraine hoping that the conflict will be resolved as soon as possible.

Regarding Russian invasion of Ukraine there is concern from our main trade partners; several questions from them regarding flight operations to Finland or if tourism services are operating normally. Until now, there have been no cancellations or postponed trips. Consumers overall feeling is that Finland is safe. The main associations of travel agencies in Spain see Russian invasion of Ukraine as a serious threat to the recovery of the travel industry, which already had good prospects for 2022. The rise in oil prices and its effect on the rise in airline tickets will cause a cascade effect in the rise in prices of tourist services.

In a recent survey conducted by one of the top B2B media to the travel agents, they do not perceive a drop in reservations for Easter. But it is still too early to have a clear picture about the effects of this crisis.

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 very powerful sales arguments when deciding which destination to visit in the Nordic countries.

In addition to Lapland in winter, there is a great 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 experiences.

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, taking into account 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.

As I mentioned before, the increase in capacity and connectivity from Spain, together with our efforts to DE seasonalize 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 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.

ObservaTUR, (national tourism research company for outgoing tourism) foresees six changes in the demands of travelers in Spain:

1) Health guarantees: its importance remains among travelers and six out of ten think it is crucial when making the decision to travel.
2) Growing demand for information: travel agents believe that this issue is becoming more noticeable among travelers.
3) Flexibility: considered also as a key factor when thinking of the future trip.
4) Reservations are delayed: Agency professionals agree that travelers are delaying their reservations increasingly.
5) Closeness and environmental responsibility are gaining more relevance.
6) The search for new ways of traveling is emerging slightly, although it does not seem to be a trend with sufficient depth yet. (i.e.: sustainable means of transportation).

 

 

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Heli Saari

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