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Updated March 2022
Finland is well known in France as a winter travel destination. Especially Finnish Lapland has a strong image and there is demand for the whole winter season from December until March/April. Finland's summer image is weaker and therefor needs more efforts in promotion, but the potential is big, and the image is slowly getting better. Competition is harder concerning summer season as French are travelling a lot inside France during the summer and Norway has a strong position and image as a Nordic summer destination. Finland's image as a sustainable and green nature destination is good and in the post-covid situation we have an offering which people are looking for.
Corona pandemic stopped all travelling from France, but when the borders opened again, travelling started well and demand was strong for the winter season. French are eager to travel to Finland. Sweden got some advantage during covid because of open borders.
Our competitors in France are Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Canada but also French Alpes in the winter. Canada has similar offering than Finland and is attracting French travellers all year around. Canada is very active in communication and marketing in France and has strengthen their position lately. Norway has a strong position as a summer destination and is the leading Nordic country for summer travels. Norway has also managed to reinforce their winter image during the last years. Sweden is active in B2C communication and marketing and is attracting French especially for Stockholm region. Lately, they have also been getting active in B2B operations. Island is doing active sales and promotion work in France and is attracting French travellers all year around. In the current situation (Ukraine crisis) Island is also attracting more than other nordic countries.
Accessibility from France got better with new Air France routes (from Paris to Helsinki and during the winter season to Rovaniemi). Finnair has daily flights from Paris and twice à week flights from Nice. Ryanair started also to operate from Paris to Helsinki in November 2021. Norwegian will start their connections Helsinki-Paris and Helsinki-Nice also during April and May.
Finland's visibility in France has been good lately and PR operations are back to normal (after reduced operations during the pandemic). There were many campaigns during November and December 2021 to promote the winter season and we had also a good visibility in social media. The competition of visibility is rough as all the destinations are trying to get travelers back and therefor it is important to keep our communication (both PR and marketing) very active.
French were travelling a lot in France during the pandemic and therefor the willingness to travel abroad is strong now. As some long-haul destinations have still closed borders for travelers, European destinations are popular for the moment. Nature and outdoor activities are important, and safety of the destination is also one of the main criteria. Finland has a good image as a Nature destination where you can have room to roam and clean air and nature; this helps us in post corona situation. Nevertheless, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is influencing the booking situation and people are waiting to see how the situation evolves. Bookings are made last minute and probably that will be also the case for the whole summer season.
French consumers/travellers are looking for inspiration and information in many different online channels, but traditional travel agencies and tour operators have still a strong role in purchasing phase as they can have certain insurances and guarantees. In case of a problem, travellers trust that it will be a lot easier with traditional operators, and Covid pandemic reinforced this even more.
Concerning Finland, most of the French travellers are coming through tour operators, especially in the winter season. During the summer season, people are more confident to book directly. With Air France's direct flights (to Helsinki and Rovaniemi) there are also more FIT travellers booking directly.
Covic pandemic changed the direction back to the traditional channels. Different guarantees and insurances have become an important issue and flexibility is demanded. Tour operators and agencies have developed their online channels a lot during the pandemic and physical agencies have less role than in pre-pandemic situation. Nevertheless, French are still demanding personal service and tailor-made products, even if the communication is done online or via phone.
French travelers coming to Finland are looking for nature holidays and outdoor activities. They appreciate good service and are ready to pay for it. Food is also an important part of the holiday experience and especially when travelling abroad French want to taste local specialties and curiosities. Since few years, experiences and learnings during travelling are becoming important part of the holiday and people want to meet the locals and experience live like a local activities.
French like out of a common experiences and authentic accommodation. Chain hotels are less demanded when travelling in Finland.
Winter season was good for Finland even if Covid pandemic was still going on and restrictions complicated tour operators' activities (especially restrictions concerning restaurants). European destinations were doing quite ok this winter season, but still many long-haul destinations were closed. Some of the tour operators have still partially unemployed personnel. French government has support travel industry strongly and is still supporting, and therefor there has not been many bankruptcies.
Main tour operators for Finland are Kuoni-Scanditours, Timetours/ La Francaise de circuits, Vivatours, Salaun Holidays/Nordiska, Scandinavia/Hutissen, Comptoir des Pays Scandinaves and Voyageurs du monde. There are also many smaller, and specialised operators, selling actively Finland.
Role of the incoming agencies is important in the French market and French operators are looking for local, Finland based operators. They want to work with local agencies who can find great locations and addresses in Finland and for the different seasons.
Accessibility from France is quite good as we got 2 new airline openings in 2021. Air France decided to open Finland flights again after many years of absence. They are operating Paris-Helsinki flight and Paris-Rovaniemi flight during the winter season. Air France's opening was very good news as the flight is connecting well also with other destinations in France. Ryanair also started Paris (Beauvais) – Helsinki flights, which is also good news and attracting a new, younger target group. Finnair has also added their daily flights since the pandemic situation. Norwegian will also start their flights Paris-Helsinki and Nice-Helsinki during the months of April and May.
Most relevant Finland's USP's in France are Finnish Happiness – Live like a Finn, Easy access to forests - Reconnect with Nature and Healthy and safe travel. French travellers coming to Finland are looking for outdoors activities with room to roam and clean air to breath. They want to experience Nordic nature and wilderness, including different light phenomena. Culture is also important, especially local cultural aspects and live like a local experiences.
Finland has got a strong image as a happy country, and it can be used to differentiate us from other Nordic countries. Finnish Lapland has also stronger position than the competitors and it is better known and more demanded.
Outdoors is a strong theme for Finland in France and most of the travellers are coming for outdoor and nature activities. They do want to have also cultural experiences but are combining those with nature activities during their stay. Luxury theme is getting stronger also and knowledge of Finland's luxury and high-end offering is better. Concerning sustainability, France was late with sustainable aspect of travelling, but corona pandemic has influenced the situation and travellers are more aware of the impact of tourism. Finland is seen as a sustainable destination and expectations are high.
Upcoming summer season looked good, but the situation with Russian invasion of Ukraine is affecting the previsions for the moment. People are waiting to see how the situation evolves. Probably the booking period will be quite short concerning this summer season. Already the Covid pandemic had an impact in the booking delays and if the conditions are not flexible people are careful with their holiday planning.
Accessibility is better and we do have more airline companies than in pre-pandemic situation. This created more price competition and also bring us different target groups (for example younger travelers with Ryanair flights).
Concerning new production, we do have new operators programming Finland. As the situation is quite unstable for the moment, they are careful with launching new products. But if the situation gets better, nice new products will be available for this summer.
As the summer image is weaker than the winter image, we do need to communicate actively concerning Finland as a summer destination. Joint Promotion campaigns are also important for the new product launches and new target groups.
Ruotsi, Ranska, Espanja
Ranska, Lapin alueen suuralueyhteistyö