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Estimate: Tourism spending to remain 30–40% below the pre-pandemic level this year

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment
Publication date 6.9.2021 13.00
Press release

Tourist spending in Finland will decrease by 30–40% in 2021. If demand picks up in November–December, total spending is estimated to shrink by around 30%, or more than EUR 5 billion. If, however, demand starts to recover only in spring 2022, total spending will decrease by about 40%, or over EUR 6 billion.

These figures are from an estimate regarding the development of tourism demand published in Business Finland’s What’s up: Ennusteet & Ennakointi (Forecasts and Anticipation) seminar on 6 September 2021. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, in cooperation with Visit Finland, Statistics Finland, the Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa, and the Association of Finnish Travel Agents SMAL has prepared the estimate using figures from 2019 for purposes of comparison. 

The estimates on how much spending would fall have turned more optimistic compared with early spring, driven by the growth in domestic tourism this summer. However, the pre-pandemic level in the sector’s overall demand cannot be reached without cross-border travel.

According to preliminary estimates, tourism demand (the amount of money spent by Finnish and foreign tourists in Finland) was EUR 16.3 billion in 2019. Demand is not expected to reach this level before 2023. The recovery of tourism demand, particularly inbound and outbound tourism, will be significantly slower than the demand for domestic tourism. The tourism sector must also prepare for a scenario where demand will remain subdued for a longer period. 

The huge decline in international tourism will continue. The coronavirus crisis will cut spending by foreign tourists by 70–80%, or EUR 3.8–4.3 billion, this year. This represents a significant proportion of Finland’s service exports, of which tourism accounted for 16 per cent in previous years, making tourism the third most important sector of service exports. Finnish tourist spending in Finland on services related to foreign travel will decrease 76–86%, or EUR 1.7–2.0 billion. Before the coronavirus crisis, travel abroad accounted for about 15% of the total travel and tourism demand, but fell to just 5% this year. This consists largely of services provided by domestic airline and shipping companies, and travel agencies. 

It is estimated that domestic tourism spending will remain close to the 2019 level. Before the crisis, domestic tourism accounted for nearly 55% of Finland’s total demand for tourism; this year the percentage will rise to 82–87%. 

Regional tourism account of 2019 shows foreign tourists mostly visited Uusimaa and Lapland

A regional tourism account, which describes the impacts of tourism on economy and employment in each region, was also published at the Business Finland event. The importance of tourism for regions varies greatly. In 2017–2019, domestic demand for tourism increased from EUR 10.5 billion to EUR 11.0 billion, at an annual rate of around 2% (EUR 211 million). Southwest Finland, North Ostrobothnia, Pirkanmaa and Central Finland experienced the most significant growth. 

In 2017–2019, international tourism to Finland increased by around 8% per year, focusing almost exclusively on Uusimaa and Lapland. Uusimaa benefited from more than half of the total tourism demand (EUR 8.2 billion).

In 2019, 154,000 people worked in the tourism sector in Finland, representing 5.8% of the workforce. The share was higher in Åland (21.4%), Lapland (8.4%), Uusimaa (6.5%) and South Karelia (6.1%).  Of the people employed in the tourism sector, around 60,800 (or 40%) worked in Uusimaa. 

A regional tourism account, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and produced by Statistics Finland, includes the data for 2018 as well as the preliminary data for 2019 on regional tourism demand, the value added (GDP) by tourism and employment in the tourism sector. Countrywide data is available in the national tourism account published by Visit Finland. 

Estimate on tourism development: 
Sanna Kyyrä, Chief Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7012
Katarina Wakonen, Head of Business Intelligence, Visit Finland, tel. +358 40 072 3088
Ossi Nurmi, Senior Statistician, Statistics Finland, tel. +358 29 551 2984
Ari Peltoniemi, Chief Economist, Finnish Hospitality Association MaRa, tel. +358 44 750 4511
Heli Mäki-Fränti, Managing Director, Association of Finnish Travel Agents SMAL, tel.  +358 40 575 1303

Regional tourism account: 
Kirsi Tervola-Joutsen, Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7242
Ossi Nurmi, Senior Statistician, Statistics Finland, tel. +358 29 551 2984

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