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Ajankohtaista tietoa Intian matkailusta

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Updated March 2022

Finland's position in the market

Finland is well known with Indians as the "Happiest country in the World". As a travel destination, Finland is more popular for its winter related activities and experiences, Northern Lights and being the hometown of Santa Claus. For summer Helsinki Region & Lakeland are gaining popularity with Indians too.

In 2019, India was no 17 source market for Finland by the number of overnights, with 102 000 annual overnights. With 27 % growth in 2019 vs 2018, India was the number one & the fastest growing markets of Visit Finland's target markets.India has a very strong potential to become a top source market for Finland.

Finnair will launch scheduled flights to Mumbai from July, which will be its second destination in India after Delhi. The flight will operate three times a week between Mumbai and Helsinki, with ticket sales to begin on April 5. Finnair will be operating the Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft for this route. After Delhi, Mumbai is a major airline hub in India and is home to leading global businesses. The new Finnair service will enable both business & leisure travel from the region as global economies gradually recover from the impact of the Covid-19.

Finnair currently operates direct flights from New Delhi to Helsinki since December 2021.The current accessibility from India is also through all the EU carriers (Lufthansa, KLM, Air France) as well as the Middle eastern carriers like Emirates, Qatar and Fly Dubai. Turkish Airlines & Air France direct connection to Rovaniemi during winters can also be promoted and capitalized from India market.

The pandemic has positioned Finland as safe & secure country with pure nature, lower number Covid-19 cases and is a destination that is not overcrowded. Unique bucket list experiences like meeting Santa Claus, chasing Northern Lights, Staying in Igloos, Crossing Arctic Circle, Icebreaker etc. are experiences Indians are keen to experience.

For Sweden, Norway and Denmark high summer months (especially May and June) are the main season for Indian visitors. For Finland summer is also important but compared to other Nordics, Finland's profile is more concentrated on autumn and winter as of now. Finland's share of summer overnights from India is 15 % and 19 % of winter overnights amongst all the Nordics. Sweden is the most appealing Nordic country for Indian visitors.

Since India is currently developing and trade focused market for Visit Finland, all our activities have been majorly focused on B2B & B2B2C. Apart from this we have also done some interesting PR campaigns with Indian media and influencers to position Finland as a desired tourism destination with Indians.

Consumer trends and behavior

Latest Consumer Trends:

After two tough years, the travel sentiment amongst Indian travellers is upbeat where spending time with loved ones is a top priority. With the resumption of all regular international flights and the upcoming summer holiday season, we are seeing a surge in travel bookings.

As per a new survey report by American Express Travel titled 'Global Travel Trends Report', about 91% of Indians, said they plan to book a dream vacation in 2022 which they normally would not have considered before the pandemic while 87% want to book a once-in-a-lifetime vacation in 2022. The report also shows that to make the most of the lost time, 94% of respondents agree they plan to travel more with family in 2022 than they did in 2021, while 89% shared that they are more interested in multi-generational family trips than ever before.

A whopping 93 per cent Indians are planning to spend more or the same on travel in 2022 compared to a typical pre-pandemic year. It reveals that the motivation to travel for 48 per cent Indians is for discovering new experiences, 46 per cent for relaxing and 45 per cent for exploring new destinations. About 96 per cent agreed they like to eat and shop at local businesses to support the local economy.

Latest Travel Trends with Indians:

To create an impact
More and more people want to explore the local culture and have a positive impact on the community they are visiting. According to the survey, traveling responsibly is of high importance for the respondents as 94% stated they would take a 'greencation' and 93% are more likely to book travel with a brand that is committed to improving its environmental impact.

Ready to spend more
Up until the pandemic, people used to be 100% sure before making their travel bookings. But this travel rule seems to have changed this year. As per the survey, 92% of respondents agreed to make bookings this year, even if they had to cancel or modify their plans later. It might also have to do with the discounted packages that travel companies are offering right now, but the rules of bookings are definitely changing.

Spending more time with family
The pandemic has definitely changed the way we have been balancing our work and family time. With kids and elders now getting booster shots and vaccines, people are planning trips with their folks to experience and relish family vacation time. Going by statistics, 94% of survey respondents plan to travel more with family in 2022 than they did in 2021. 89% of respondents agree they are more interested in multigenerational trips than ever before.

Need for entertainment
A majority of people are looking forward to music festivals and attending sports and cultural events around the globe. According to the report, 89% of consumers held off on traveling for major entertainment events last year but have plans to return to these types of events this year.

Customization/ bespoke/ tailormade is a trend that can be seen gaining popularity in the post pandemic travel. Although tailored vacations weren't rare in pre-pandemic times, Covid accelerated the need for travelers to customize their itineraries according to their ease, safety and preference. Affluent Indian travellers are looking for deeper and more comprehensive relationships with their travel advisors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many travel agents may have to assume several new responsibilities that they didn't have to do previously, consumers expecting their advisor to provide clarity about cancellations, refund processes, travel insurance, and the majority agreeing the booking agent should be monitoring the latest government advice on COVID status at destination and providing information on the hygiene of the resort or location. Consumers also expect their advisor to offer more alternative travel packages to less crowded destinations, and some are most likely to want private transport options, such as private jets and private islands. Another newer requirements of affluent travellers is an even greater focus on sustainability, wherein consumers now expect to see information on this when agents create itineraries.

To serve Indian consumer Finnish travel fraternity should consider the following :

  • Have ready made products for each season with dynamic price option and unique experiences wherein activities are listed as individual costs and the agents can customize packages as per their requirements (pick and choose experiences)
  • Willingness to work on customized/ bespoke/tailor-made packages as per clients requirement
  • Provide options for property buy out in case of groups
  • Not to take any offence on negotiations or bargaining as this is the way Indians like to work
  • Try to offer small value adds to make the agent feel special
  • Consider India a long term market and develop long term partnerships with travel agents

Industry update and distribution channels

India resumed scheduled international flights on March 27th after over two years of pandemic-induced ban on air travel. Centre has announced several relaxations to the existing COVID-19 protocols that will come into effect at airports and flights. Wearing protective face masks and maintenance of hand hygiene is still mandatory at airports and on flights.

The aviation and tour-planning industry is looking at its best year for outbound travel since the pandemic with Indians starting bookings for their favourite overseas destinations, although high fuel prices and vaccine-related curbs remain potential downside risks.

The recent announcement on reopening of India's scheduled flights has resulted in a surge of positive consumer sentiment. Post a wait of over two years, Indians are now longing to travel the world. To leverage this strong pent up demand and help customers plan their much awaited summer holidays, Travel agencies have introduced "Ultra Flexible" holidays that offers flexibility, choice and convenience at unbeatable pricing.

Travel industry insiders shared that the demand is for both long-haul and short-haul international flights. There is a strong uptick of 20-40% in queries, with Europe's Switzerland, France, Spain and the UK still heading the leader-board (40% increase), followed by short hauls like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Thailand, Maldives, Turkey, Egypt, Singapore (30%); and also also long-hauls like Australia (20%),

Industry insiders and airlines, however also say that the 270-day validity of vaccine certificates is likely to impact the plans of various leisure travellers. Currently in India only the elderly population is only eligible for booster dose whereas the leisure travel segment comprises mostly families of all age groups - young and old. Recently the Government has announced that they are considering booster dose for 18+ for travel purpose.

Main distribution channels (biggest TO's)

  • Travel Agents and Tour Operators
  • OTA's
  • Finnish DMC's
  • Indian DMC's
  • Members of "Travellers Made" & associations like OTOAI , TAAI & TAFI

The incoming agencies and DMC's play a very integral role as they are ones creating the products which get promoted in the market, hence we intend to work very closely with the Finnish partners. Indians prefer to have one point contact for the entire destination package.

Finnair will launch scheduled flights to Mumbai from July, which will be its second destination in India after Delhi. The flight will operate three times a week between Mumbai and Helsinki, with ticket sales to begin on April 5. Finnair will be operating the Airbus A330 wide-body aircraft for this route. After Delhi, Mumbai is a major airline hub in India and is home to leading global businesses. Finnair operates direct flights from New Delhi to Helsinki.The current accessibility from India is also through all the EU carriers (Lufthansa, KLM, Air France) as well as Emirates, Qatar and Fly Dubai. Turkish Airlines & Air France direct connect to Rovaniemi during winters can also be promoted and capitalized in India.

4. Finland travel USP's

Our most relevant USP's in India market are as follows:

Finland Overall:

  • Happiness - Live like a Finn
  • Healthy & Safe travel is freedom to travel
  • Nature - easy access to forest
  • Santa Claus - The ambassador of goodwill from Finland

Region Wise most relevant USP's for India:

Lapland

  • Santa Claus – The ambassador of goodwill from Finland
  • Incredible Light Phenomena all year round
  • Experience the Arctic Wilderness
  • The World's cleanest air- An invitation to the great outdoors

Lakeland

  • Land of thousand lakes
  • Have a holiday like the Finns do
  • To know Sauna is to know Finland

Helsinki Region

  • Urban nature just around the corner
  • Design & Architecture offer sights for all senses
  • World class events in a World class environment

Coast & Archipelago

  • World's largest archipelago

Appended USP's are the key USP's which make Finland exclusive for Indians

  • Happiness - Live like a Finn
  • Healthy & Safe travel is freedom to travel
  • Santa Claus - The ambassador of goodwill from Finland

Our main USP's for Finland listed above are extremely strong and extremely relevant for Indians in these times, wherein people are trying to find true mantra for happiness and health & safety measures will play an integral role in decision making for a destination wherein Finland truly stands out compared to the rest of the Europe. Santa Claus as an ambassador of goodwill, Incredible light phenomena & Arctic Wilderness experiences in Finland are also a key driving force and attraction for all the consumer segments from India including groups, FIT, MICE, Educational Trips, Luxury Travel etc. hence we can truly bank on it to target all product and consumer segments to recoup the market.

An additional key selling point for India market is Unique stays/accommodations offered by Finland

Luxury is the most important theme for India market followed by Education as Finland's Education system is well known in India as one of the best in the World. Outdoors as a theme can also be developed strongly for the young and adventurous Indians (Gen Y & Z) who are changing the overall landscape of holidays and are keen to experience and spend more time in the Outdoors.

Future outlook and upcoming season

Main Trends from India:

Health & safety key factors
What has changed from pre-Covid period to now is that people are increasingly preferring travel choices that provide hygienic staying options coupled with best safety protocols. In the survey, 70 per cent respondents ranked health & safety as the key consideration while re-sanitation of rooms was selected by 52 per cent respondents as a key requirement. Majority or about 66 per cent of the respondents showed willingness to increase spends to ensure higher levels of health and safety on their holiday.

Refundable or zero cancellation products
Another interesting trend brought out by the survey is that a whopping 81 per cent respondents reiterated their need for refundable or zero cancellation products. With the uncertainty created by the virus, people want flexible products where cancellations would be allowed as a rule.

Options for both domestic and international travel
What is interesting is that travellers want options for both domestic and international travel in just about equal number of preferences expressed in the survey. Among the domestic destinations, Kashmir, Leh-Ladakh, Himachal, Andamans, Goa and Kerala have caught the fancy of the travellers, while Dubai-Abu Dhabi, Maldives, Mauritius, Thailand, Europe, etc remain hot travel destinations globally.

18% want to travel in a vaccinated group
Also, 35 per cent respondents chose holidays between 3 and 5 days; 52 per cent for 6-12 days; and 13 per cent for over 12 days. About 62 per cent respondents prefer to travel with family/friends; 20 per cent as couple/solo; and 18 per cent in a vaccinated group.

77% prefer expert guidance
Even with the pandemic still lurking, 77 per cent respondents continued to express strong preference for interaction with an expert for guidance/reassurance, 27 per cent opting to purchase holidays through retail outlets; 17 per cent for home service; 33 per cent preferred a contactless experience of a virtual store/video chat; and 23 per cent opted for bookings via website/app.
(Thomas Cook India and SOTC Travel ,Third Holiday Readiness Report )

As and when travel resumes to Finland from India, it will stand out with its unique offerings and experiences specially for the upcoming winter season. Agents in India have started promoting Iceland, Switzerland , Germany & Spain as they have opened for fully vaccinated visitors from India and Indians are keen to do combination packages with Finland.

Target Segments with continue as listed below:
City Breaker
Comfort Seeker
Activity Enthusiasts
Nature Explorers
Nature Wonder Hunters

Products will continue as follows:
Culture and Lifestyle
Outdoor & Sports
High End and Luxury Experiences
Nature Experiences
Wellbeing & Sauna
Family Experiences
Food
Citybreak

 

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Sara Kaur Sodhi

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