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Nordic Travel Fair wants you to come to Finland

Chocolate or liquorice, anyone? Orkla Confectionery & Snacks was at the fair promoting its brands, Taffel for crisps and Panda for sweets. Panda liquorice is available in stores around the world, and account manager Maija Torppa (front) knows it’s a treat to not only Finns living abroad, but foreigners too. “It only has four ingredients, nothing artificial.”
The company has redesigned its Finland-branded chocolate boxes in honour of the 100th anniversary celebrations. According to Torppa, Panda’s Finland-chocolates are one of the most popular sweets at Helsinki Airport.
Anne Salomäki

This weekend, Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre will be packed with travel enthusiasts participating in the Nordic Travel Fair. Good News from Finland popped by to see what Finland has to offer for the year to come.

We expected plenty of fuss about and around Finland: various publications, including Lonely Planet and National Geographic, have listed Finland as one of the top destinations for 2017. We were anything but disappointed, as there were plenty of people on hand to convince us that Finland is the go-to destination.

The trend isn’t dying, and soon Finland will be branding itself as a place for relaxing. Finpro’s* Visit Finland and its Finrelax programme have chosen top 25 wellbeing products, and Culture Finland has nominated top 20 products in the field of culture, from among the over 200 products that took part in a product development competition.

The winners represent Finland as a wellbeing and culture travel destination, and the final products will be sent to the European and Asian markets with the help of Visit Finland.

The Nordic Travel Fair is being held from 19-22 January.

Rye bread, anyone? The dark and healthy delicacy was announced as the national food of Finland at the Travel Fair on Thursday. Image: Messukeskus Helsinki
Ilse Klockars, marketing manager at Hanko Tourism, thinks the Finnish archipelago is fantastic. “There are so many places full of peace, authenticity and wellbeing with a short journey from Helsinki yet still off the beaten path,” she notes. “They offer people living in the busy metropolises in Central Europe an opportunity to calm down in the quietness.” She thinks Hanko is particularly special, because it’s mainland and archipelago at the same time. “You get sea views from three directions.” Image: Anne Salomäki
Visit Lahti sales manager Harri Olenius says the city of Lahti is most well-known for its winter sports scene. Often foreign tourists head first to its ski jumping towers. The upcoming World Ski Championships are, of course, a magnet for people into snowy sporting.
However, it’s not the only thing that’s great about the town. “We’re the gateway to the lakeside of Finland,” Olenius points out. “Also, we’re very easy to get to from the capital, but surrounded by beautiful nature.” Image: Anne Salomäki
Visit Åland’s cruise and marketing manager Sari Venho and sales and marketing coordinator Outi Virtanen were at the fair to remind travellers about Åland’s amazingness. The island between Finland and Sweden might not be big in size or population, but it boasts a vast variety of activities. “Everything is conveniently located near everywhere else, and cycling around is very popular among travellers,” the ladies say. “Despite the tranquillity of the island, there are plenty of festivals and event, particularly in the summer time.” Image: Anne Salomäki
Not anyone would use the slogan “in the middle of nowhere” in their tourism marketing. Well, Salla in Lapland isn’t just anyone. Heli Karjalainen, marketing officer from Salla’s tourism office, says the idea is to be authentic and honest. “We are very much in the middle of nowhere – there are no city lights within a 100-kilometre radius.” She points out that every activity the village can offer to tourists is based on genuine, original things from the village. “Be it snowshoes or snowmobiles, they’re a part of the survival of the people in the area. Also, guides are almost always people originally from Salla.” Image: Anne Salomäki
Ähtäri Zoo CEO Jukka Haapaniemi agreed to pose for a photo with a red panda. Soon, if all goes to plan, Ähtäri will have giant pandas roaming in its enclosures. That will increase the attractiveness of the zoo, as there are only a handful of giant pandas in European zoos.
Haapaniemi points out that Ähtäri hosts over 60 endangered Northern species in its over 60-hectare park area. He reminds that Finland provides giant pandas with an environment close to their natural habitat, which is the case with most of Ähtäri’s animals in general.
The region has other things to do, too. “Tuuri shopping centre and PowerPark amusement park are very near, so there are a lot of activities for, for example, families with children.” Image: Anne Salomäki
The Karelian pie made it to the third spot on the list of national foods, losing only to Karelian hot pot and the winner, rye bread. Anna-Liisa Karpathakis from bakery A-L Sorsa served all sorts of variations of both the pie and rye at the fair. She’s noticed that Asian tourists often go for the traditional pie that’s filled with rice pudding, and many Western visitors opt for the potato one. “For a lot of foreigners, rye is something quintessentially Finnish.” Image: Anne Salomäki
Portuguese journalist Claudia Carvalho from travel magazine ‘Volta ao Mundo’ attended a Finnfacts media tour. She had never been to Finland before, and this is the case with a lot of other Portuguese people, too. “Finland is quite an unknown destination in Portugal,” she tells. During the first couple of days of her busy visit, she’s noticed people have been very friendly and lively – which, she admits, came as a bit of a surprise. “People are cheerful and active even outdoors, although it’s so cold, at least for us!” Image: Anne Salomäki
A cardboard cutout of a reindeer was there, too. Because why not! Image: Anne Salomäki

Good News from Finland is published by Finnfacts, which is a part of Finpro*.

*Part of Business Finland since 2018

By: Anne Salomäki