Spending by international visitors increased by 20% in 2017

March 16, 2018

International travellers paid a record-breaking 8.3 million visits to Finland in 2017 and spent nearly €500 million more than the year before. Chinese visitors were the most extravagant, spending more than €1200 per visit. In all, international visitors brought in €4 billion in revenue comparable to export.

A survey conducted by Business Finland’s Visit Finland unit indicates that international visitors made a total of 8.3 million trips to Finland in 2017, up by 13% from 2016. Visits by Russian tourists increased by 17%, whereas visits by Chinese travellers skyrocketed at +63%. Visits from EU countries increased by 4% compared to the previous year.

Visits that included at least one night increased by 18% while day trips grew by 6%. Still, more than half of all visits by Chinese, Japanese and Korean travellers are for one night or less. However, more than 80% of travellers from Central Europe stay for at least two nights. Vacationers account for more than a quarter of all overnight stays in Finland.

“Travel reached a new height in Finland last year, spurred on by unprecedented attention from the international media. However, the groundwork has been laid by years of hard work in developing high-quality products, and we cannot let our high standards slip to keep up with demand. As the number of tourists increases, unfavourable consequences are also inevitable, and some destinations are indeed starting to reach their capacity. We need to develop sustainable tourism in order to preserve our unique nature, cultural environments and local communities that rely on tourism while also keeping up with demand and generating growth”, states Paavo Virkkunen from Business Finland’s Visit Finland unit.

Russians and Chinese bring in the most euros

Visitors from abroad spent €2.6 billion in Finland in 2017, which is nearly €500 million (22%) more than the year before. Russians brought in the most money, as they are also the highest in numbers. Per traveller, the Chinese reign supreme, who on average spent €1262 per visit. The average spend for Russian visitors was around €240. On average, each visitor spent a total of €318 in Finland when expenses paid in advance (accommodation, rental cars, entry fees etc.) are included.

Travel creates commerce and prosperity

The travel industry employs 5.5% of Finland’s workforce – around 140,000 people, including a high number of young workers. The food sector is the biggest individual employer, accounting for roughly half of all the jobs in the industry.

“The travel industry has enormous potential to create prosperity in Finland, as it is a very labour-intensive field. Tourism also supports many regions in remote parts of the country. Our big challenge is evening the load throughout the year. When tourism is highly seasonal, as is the case in many regions, it cannot support full-time jobs, investments or permanent housing for the workforce. A constant stream of visitors would ensure better returns for services provided, decrease operational risks and enable a whole new level of infrastructure”, Virkkunen predicts.

International visitors spent €2.6 billion during their travels in Finland in 2017, and when export income from international passenger traffic is added (estimated at €1.4 billion), the total national revenue comparable to export is €4 billion for 2017. The travel industry makes up 2.5% of Finland’s GDP. Compared to other industries, travel outshines the food industry and nearly matches agriculture, forestry and fishery.

Broad interest towards Finland as a destination

The number of international visitors increased in all of Finland’s four main tourism regions; Lapland, Helsinki, Lakeland and the Archipelago.  Visitors are typically interested in both Finnish cities and culture as well as nature and activities.

“It is becoming harder and harder to define larger target groups. For instance, seniors are also starting travel more independently and follow their hobbies and interests. However, digital tools allow us to reach all kinds of travellers – and furthermore, let us provide them with the right experiences and services at the right time. The Finnish travel industry should act fast and harness these digital services, as even niche markets in large countries, such as Germany or China, are quite formidable”, Virkkunen explains.

Top 10 in spending according to country of residence, 2017, €M


Country of residence 2017, €M Change from 2016, €M Change, %
1. Russia 653 +182 +39%
2. China 335 +110 +49%
3. Sweden 218 +52 +31%
4. Germany 172 +32 +23%
5. France 130 +42 +47%
6. Estonia 123 -2 -2%
7. Japan 110 +39 +56%
8. Spain 99 +32 +48%
9. USA 83 +17 +26%
10. UK 81 -27 -25%



 Top 10 countries of origin for travellers in Finland, 2017


Country of residence Trips to Finland in 2017 Change from 2016 Change, %
1. Russia   3,128,000 +446,000 +17%
2. Estonia      912,000 -9,000 -1%
3. Sweden      844,000 -12,000 -1%
4. China      432,000 +167,000 +63%
5. Germany      396,000 +7,000 +2%
6. UK      344,000 +99,000 +40%
7. Japan      187,000 +4,000 +2%
8. France      150,000 -14,000 -9%
9. South Korea      139,000 +25,000 +22%
10. Spain      127,000 0 0%



Top 10 nationalities for spending per trip to Finland, 2017


1. China €1262
2. France €790
3. Spain €780
4. USA €645
5. Belgium €607
6. India €607
7. Japan €602
8. Canada €567
9. South Korea €548
10. Australia €533


The Visitor Survey included nearly 20,000 interviews with international visitors at Finnish border stations in 2017. Random sampling gives a margin of error of no more than ±0.7 points for percentages concerning all visitors. The samples for national results varied from 95 to 9828 subjects, resulting in an approximate margin of error of ±1.0–9.7 points. The Visitor Survey was conducted by TAK Oy.

This press release also includes information from the national fiscal report MATKAILUTILINPITO: Matkailun talous- ja työllisyysvaikutukset 2015–2016. The report was commissioned by Visit Finland and compiled by Statistics Finland.



Katarina Wakonen, Manager, Research, Visit Finland | Business Finland, +358 400 723 088, katarina.wakonen@businessfinland.fi