Lapland emerged in December as the absolute favourite Finnish destination for tourists coming from other countries. The homeland of Santa Claus once again proved to be the region par excellence to travel at Christmas time and recorded in the last month of 2018 more than half of all hotel stays made by foreigners in the country.
The latest figures on tourism published by Statistics Finland support this statement: the number of recorded nights spent by foreign tourists at accommodation establishments in Lapland totalled 399,000 in December, which is 7.8% higher than the same month of the previous year. In the whole Finland, the total number of nights spent by foreign tourists was 788,000 (6.9% more than the same month of the previous year). Therefore, Lapland benefited from 50.7% of these stays.
Santa Claus at his office in Rovaniemi. Copyright: ©Visit Rovaniemi (Rovaniemi Tourism & Marketing Ltd).
The British, the most numerous.
British tourists accounted for most of these and their overnight stays were directed almost entirely to Lapland. Close on 171,000 overnight stays were recorded for them in accommodation establishments there, whereas the corresponding number for the whole country was 208,000 overnight stays.
In Lapland, the number went up by 2.6% from the previous year and in the whole country overnight stays by British visitors increased by 7.7%. The number of overnight stays in Lapland by visitors from Asian countries increased to almost 61,000, which, was 15.2% more than in the previous year. Around 48% of overnight stays by Asian tourists focused on Lapland in December 2018.
The above mentioned Christmas travel by British visitors also raised them to the biggest foreign tourist group in the whole country in December with their 208,000 overnight stays. Russian visitors came second with good 74,000 overnight stays, even though their number decreased by 10.6% compared to the year before, according to Statistics Finland.
French visitors were in third position with good 43,000 overnight stays. The number of their overnight stays in accommodation establishments grew by 13.5% when compared with December 2017. Germans were fourth with 41,000 nights spent and the number rose by 15.2% from the previous year.
However, the biggest growth percentage came from the United States: 31.5%. Almost 21,000 overnight stays were recorded for tourists from the United States at Finnish accommodation establishments in December 2018.
Source: Statistics Finland
Overnight stays recorded for Dutch visitors increased by 15% and totalled around 22,000. Overnight stays by Spanish tourists increased by 14% and those by Chinese visitors by 11.5% from December 2017. Spanish tourists spent nearly 37,000 nights in Finland and Chinese visitors slightly under 32,000.
The main decreases
Besides overnight stays by Russian tourists, overnight stays by Swedish and Italian tourists decreased in December 2018. Altogether, 25,500 overnight stays were recorded for Swedish visitors, which was 5.3% fewer than in December 2017. Around 18,000 overnight stays were recorded for Italian tourists; down by 3.8%.
Examined by region, the total number of overnight stays increased most in December in South Savo, by 15.8% and in Kainuu, by 15.7%. In Päijät-Häme overnight stays grew by 14.1% and in Pirkanmaa by 11.4%. By contrast, the total number of overnight stays decreased in Satakunta by 15.9% and in Kanta-Häme by 11.6%. In the whole country, the number of overnight stays increased in total by 2.8% compared to December 2017.
Source: Statistics Finland
Less resident tourists
In contrast to the 6.9% increase in the 788,000 stays made by foreign tourists in accommodation establishments, those made by residents decreased by 0.3% to 966,000. In all, slightly under 1,8 million overnight stays were recorded at Finnish accommodation establishments, which was 2,8% more than in December 2017.
These figures are preliminary data from Statistics Finland and have been collected from all kind of accommodation establishments with at least 20 beds or caravan pitches with electricity connection.
The hotels improved their records
As regards the hotel sector, in December 2018 the total number of nights spent was close to 1,5 million, which was 3.4% more than twelve months earlier. Overnight stays by foreign tourists increased by 7.6% and hotels recorded good 687,000 of them. Statistics Finland says that overnight stays by resident tourists "remained on level with the previous year" and around 806,000 overnight stays were recorded from them.
The occupancy rate of hotel rooms was 50.5% in December. One year earlier, it was nearly the same (50,3%). The highest rates were recorded in Lapland (72.6%) and in Uusimaa (60.8%). In Rovaniemi, the hotel room occupancy rate was 91.9%, in Helsinki 68.4% and in Vantaa 64.3%.
The average price of a hotel room was 118.42 euros per day for the whole country (111.91 euros one year before).
22 million overnight stays in the whole year
According to preliminary data, in 2018 the total number of nights spent a accommodation establishments in Finland was record high and totalled good 22 million, which was 1.4% more than in 2017. Of those, 15.4 million were recorded for resident tourists (1.5% more than in 2017) and good 6.8 million for non-residents (increased by 1.3% from the previous year).
The number of nights spent by Russian visitors totalled good 816,000 from January to December (0.7% down from the earlier year). They were still the biggest country in terms of tourism to Finland. Germans came second, with 628,000 overnight stays (almost 1% higher than in 2017).
British tourists beat the Swedish and came third with close on 595,000 overnight stays (1.5% more) and then came the Swedish (560,000 stays, 6.3% less). Chinese visitors kept their fifth position and spent nearly 333,000 nights (a figure 6.2% higher than in the corresponding period of the previous year".
Dutch tourists (246,000 stays) and Spanish tourists (176,000) improved their records in 2018 by around 8% each. Those from the United States increased by 7.4% and recorded nearly 290,000 overnight stays. Nights spent by French (299,000) increased by 6.9%. The biggest drop in 2018 came from Japanese tourists (216,000 nights, which was 9.5% down".