Sector report: Tourism grew steadily before the coronavirus pandemic – Finland continues to have several competitive advantages
The turnover and staff numbers of companies in the tourism sector have increased during 2015–2019. After four consecutive years of growth, the coronavirus pandemic brought tourism to a halt in spring 2020. According to estimates, the recovery of tourism will take a few years, with sustainability and security among Finland’s key assets in future.
These are the conclusions of the sector report on the tourism industry published by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment on 10 February 2021. In 2019, the number of companies in the sector was about 29,000 and they employed directly about 119,000 persons. The total turnover of companies in the sector was EUR 21 billion.
“The figures in the report describe the situation before the coronavirus pandemic and show that there is a demand for tourism in Finland. As we all know, the pandemic has had a dramatic impact on tourism, but Finland has several strengths in the sector. We are a safe country and we can also stand out due to our sustainability,” says Lea Marski, Sector Manager from the North Ostrobothnia ELY Centre, who compiled the report.
In 2019, passenger transport and its services had the largest turnover among the tourism industry groups, while food and beverage services were the largest employer. Over the past few years, the number of new companies in the tourism sector has increased moderately.
Tourism sector accounts for about 2.7% of Finland’s GDP. Tourism supports the development of regions, especially outside growth centres, thereby strengthening a balanced regional structure.
Coronavirus pandemic has dealt a blow to tourism sector
In spring 2020 the tourism sector collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the travel restrictions imposed to prevent its spread. The restrictions have successfully reduced the spread of the disease, but also driven the tourism sector, in particular, to serious financial difficulties.
The turnover of tourism companies has decreased dramatically and the number of people laid off has multiplied from the years before. The State has introduced different kinds of support instruments to address the harm caused by the coronavirus crisis.
It is estimated that the demand for tourism may recover from the pandemic in a few years’ time, but its impact on the industry may be extensive and long-lasting in many ways. It may take a long time before the financial situation of tourism companies improves, which may slow down investments for growth. The pandemic has also affected the consumer demand and behaviour of tourists, which should be taken into account in service production and its development.
Investing in Finland’s competitiveness a key issue after pandemic
Finland’s country image as a safe and stable country provides a solid foundation for the development and growth of tourism industry after the pandemic. Finland’s aim is still to achieve the most sustainable growth as a destination for tourism among the Nordic countries.
This is achievable if Finland responds to the digital transformation, makes use of innovations, improves access, invests in the development of sustainable and responsible tourism and strengthens the competitiveness of the sector’s business environment. This requires long-term and close cooperation between tourism operators, sponsors, political decision-makers and public authorities.
The sector report on tourism was published at Visit Finland’s ValoOn seminar on 10 February 2021. The report describes the tourism sector based on the statistics of 2019, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the prospects for the future.
Lea Marski, Sector Manager, North Ostrobothnia ELY Centre, tel. +358 29 503 7090, [email protected]
Ida Honkanen, Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7033, [email protected]
Katri Lehtonen, Development Director, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 506 4926, [email protected]