Economic impacts of tourism

Importance of tourism for Finland’s national economy

The importance of tourism for Finland’s national economy increased before the coronavirus pandemic. In 2018–2019, foreign tourism demand increased by an average of 8 per cent a year. Over the same period, domestic tourism grew by 3 per cent annually. 

The coronavirus pandemic that started in March 2020 and the restrictions caused by it had a severe effect on tourism. Until 2019, tourism accounted for 2.7 per cent of Finland’s GDP, but the pandemic and the related restrictions caused it drop to 1.4 per cent in 2020. Driven by domestic travel, the proportion of tourism of GDP started to rise again in 2021, growing to 1.6 per cent.

In 2019, the total tourism demand was EUR 16.3 billion, of which EUR 5.3 was tourism export, i.e. spending by foreign tourists in Finland. Domestic tourists spent 11 billion. Tourism exports accounted for more than 17 per cent of the export income generated by services, and 5.4 per cent of Finland's total exports.

According to preliminary data, total tourism demand amounted to EUR 11.5 billion in 2021, which was EUR 1.3 billion (13 per cent) more than in 2020, but EUR 4.8 billion (29 per cent) less than in 2019 before the pandemic. Foreign tourists accounted for EUR 1.3 billion of total demand and domestic tourists for EUR 10.2 billion in 2021. The proportion of domestic tourism demand rose to 89 per cent, of which 7 percentage points resulted from the expenditure on outbound tourism remaining in Finland. Domestic tourism therefore accounted for 82 per cent (EUR 9.4 billion) of the tourism demand in 2021. 78 per cent of foreign tourism income (excluding passenger transport) came from the European market in 2021. The largest export markets were Estonia (EUR 158 million), Sweden (EUR 111 million) and Germany (EUR 89 million).

According to the projections for 2022, total demand grew to EUR 13.5 billion from the previous year. Foreign demand grew to EUR 3.3 billion, which is approximately 62 per cent of the peak demand in 2019. The demand remaining in Finland from outbound tourism also increased slightly from the previous year. Meanwhile, domestic tourism demand decreased from the peak year of 2021 and remained slightly below the pre-pandemic level.

Regional impacts

In 2021, around one third (EUR 3.7 billion) of tourism consumption in Finland in 2021 went to Uusimaa, followed by Pirkanmaa (8 per cent), Southwest Finland (8 per cent) and Lapland (7 per cent).

According to preliminary data, tourism demand grew due to domestic tourism in nearly all regions in 2021 compared with the previous year.  Measured in euros, the demand in regions surrounding large cities grew the most. In Uusimaa, the demand grew by EUR 0.3 billion (8 per cent), in Pirkanmaa by EUR 0.2 billion (29 per cent), in Southwest Finland by EUR 0.1 billion (17 per cent) and in North Ostrobothnia by EUR 0.1 billion (19 per cent) from the previous year. In Lapland, demand decreased by 2 per cent, while in South Karelia and Kainuu it remained unchanged from the previous year.

The effects of the pandemic have been different in the regions. The decrease in tourism demand in 2020 was most severe in those regions where the foreign tourism demand accounted for a significant part of the total demand before the pandemic: Uusimaa, Lapland, Åland and South Karelia. The decline in foreign demand continued in nearly all regions in 2021. Measured in euros, foreign demand decreased the most in Lapland (EUR 81 million), Uusimaa (EUR 53 million) and South Karelia (EUR 51 million). In Åland, foreign demand grew by EUR 15 million due to an increase in maritime transport. Five regions received about 85 per cent of all foreign demand: Uusimaa (56 per cent), Lapland (16 per cent), Åland (5 per cent), North Ostrobothnia (4 per cent) and Southwest Finland (4 per cent).

New figures on the supply and use of accommodation services is available in Statistics Finland’s accommodation statistics: Official Statistics of Finland (SVT): Accommodation statistics.

The figures are based on Finland’s tourism accounts for 2020-2021 (in Finnish, abstract in English), projections for 2022 (in Finnish) and tourism as export infographic 2023 (in Finnish). More detailed database tables have been published by Visit Finland’s statistics service Rudolf. The business sector services of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment also publish an annual sector report on the current state and future prospects of tourism.

Tourism accounts, or Tourism Satellite Accounts (TSA), is a statistical system in which the economic and employment impacts of tourism are described in a diverse and comprehensive manner. It has been developed in broad international cooperation by e.g. the UN, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the OECD and the EU.

Projections of tourism demand during the coronavirus pandemic

Tourism demand is one of the key indicators of the tourism strategy. The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on Finland’s tourism demand have been examined in regularly updated projections of tourism demand. The latest estimate is based on the situation in September 2021. The estimates reflect the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on travel and tourism in Finland as a whole: Projections of tourism demand during the coronavirus pandemic 2020-2021 (in Finnish).

Concepts of tourism accounts

  • Travel account describes the balance of Finland’s international tourism receipts and expenditure. The travel account is positive, i.e. in surplus, if the income generated by foreign tourists visiting Finland is higher than the expenditure by Finnish people abroad. 
  • Tourism demand (expenditure) / consumption reflects the amount of money tourists spend on purchasing products and services during the year. The total demand for tourism includes the spending of both Finnish and foreign tourists in Finland, paid either by tourists themselves or by another party on their behalf. Tourism demand also includes imputed cost of using owned vacation homes. See also tourism receipts and tourism exports.
  • Tourism receipts, i.e. the money spent by tourists, income in euros from the sale of tourism services and products.
  • Tourism exports, or foreign tourism demand, describe the amount of money spent by international tourists on purchasing tourism services and products.
  • Tourism expenditure describes all products and services that are either purchased by tourists themselves or paid by somebody else. International tourism expenditure refers to the expenditure by residents of a given country on their trips abroad, including international passenger transport expenditure.
  • Passenger transport account describes the income and expenditure of international passenger transport between Finland and other countries. In addition to travel tickets, the passenger transport account includes baggage and all consumption during transport.

Inquiries: Sanna Kyyrä, sanna.kyyra(at)