Russia Is Becoming Popular Among Finns As a Place For Shopping…..And Vice Versa

Posted: December 19, 2014 in Society and Culture

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Tourist flow turns from Finland to Russia?

Wikimedia Commons; by Repovesi

11.12.14 12:49

Russia is becoming popular among Finns as a place for shopping. On the other hand, Finnish tour operators have to make extra efforts in order to attract Russian tourists into the neighboring country.

Finland is a favorite destination for Russian New Year holiday makers — mostly, sure, from St. Petersburg. Filled to capacity hotels and resorts, sometimes with nearly 100 percent of Russian guests, is a typical Christmas scene in Finland.

It is the super-high season, the preparation for which begins as early as August, and by October there have already leased more than 60% of the houses offered by tour operators,” says the expert of the Finnish “Invest Consult SKTS Oy” Mikhail Zuevsky, to Lenta. “Most Russians here are our “return clients” for whom the New Year’s Eve in Finland has become a tradition. This stable demand has formed over the past 10 years. The two “Russian Weeks” in Finland are the peak of prices in the whole year. However, this year the picture is quite different, due to the weakening of the ruble and the loss of confidence in the Russian tourist agencies after a series of bankruptcies.”

Those Russians who managed to buy real estate in Finland before the economic turbulence have found themselves in a better position. According to statistics, 84% percent of the Russians buying real estate in Finland are from St. Petersburg, and 9% from Moscow. The total value of real estate owned by Russians in Finland is estimated at 450 million EUR. The average cost of a property owned by Russians in the most popular among their compatriots Lappeenranta (200 kilometers from St. Petersburg) is 268 thousand EUR.

Not so much fun for vacationers who do not have their own real estate in the country: the economic problems of the year force them to save on travel expenses. In the first half of 2014 the number of tourists from Russia fell by 9% compared to the same period of the 2013, and depending on the market’s segments and the regions, the statistics for the year are likely to show a 30-60 percent decline.

In such a situation, hotels, resorts, and operators, as well as owners of cottages are trying to at least partially mitigate the tendency. For example, Finnish hotels “Radisson Blu” offer a 15% discount for bookings of more than two nights, and when the booking is made 28 days beforehand, the discount is 20%. In December “RZD-Tour” also announced their offers for Christmas tours in Kuopio and the Northern Savonia region (one of the most popular destinations with Russians). Thus, if the tour is bought by a family with a child, the ticket for the child is for free; also there provided special discounts for travel and accommodation in the amount of 100-200 EUR per person, depending on the number of travelers and the type of accommodation.

On the other hand, the same falling exchange rate of the ruble has led to a reverse movement across the border. According to the managing director of the travel agency “Saimaa Travel” Kirsti Laine, “Clearly people are on the move now. They have realized that now it’s time to go to Russia. Our partners in that country offer discount flights and, for example, a three-night accommodation at the price of two. For 5-10 euros you can eat a three-course dinner. A 55-liter tank of gasoline will only cost you about 29 euros instead of 43 euros in Finland. As for fabrics and linen products, they were always not too expensive in Russia, but now they are particularly cheap, because they are of local production. Small tourist groups from Finland are making trips to Russia already to buy electronics, cosmetics, to visit clothing and shoe store, and to eat in restaurants.”

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