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Opinion

It’s the littlest things

Can you recall telling friends about your travel plans – and them laughing and asking ‘why there’? “Why would you go somewhere so cold/hot/boring/crowded?”

Can you recall telling friends about your travel plans – and them laughing and asking ‘why there’? “Why would you go somewhere so cold/hot/boring/dangerous/crowded/remote?”

I have paid what felt like a king’s ransom for travelling to the Shetland islands simply for the sake of ponies, gone to Newcastle just to be able to drink Newcastle Brown Ale inside its namesake and spent numerous hours on dodgy buses and nights in hostels to make it to a crater in Ecuador my friend had, in passing, called beautiful.

When we think of what Finland’s famous for, we sometimes just go for the Captain Obvious: education, lakes, Nightwish, Nokia. However, there is much to be found outside of the box, too.

In the past six years, I’ve spent most of my time away from Finland and heard foreigners tell me some unexpected details about my motherland; from the whole country providing access to free wifi everywhere (not true) to being able to stay in free huts whilst hiking in Lapland (indeed we can).

Then there was a friend from the UK who told me she’s recently been obsessed with Tove Jansson and wanted to travel to Finland to explore more. “Do you know anything about where to go to ‘walk in her footsteps’?” Luckily, I noticed Visit Finland was already on it.

I’m not saying we can have a theme park for absolutely everything that captures our enthusiasm; but we should bear in mind that people really do hop on a plane to go see where their favourite HIM video was filmed, or where they can make their favourite pie with wild-grown and self-picked berries, no matter how ludicrous it might sound to some.

Tourists who decide to come to Finland will sometimes have the seemingly strangest of reasons to book a flight to Helsinki Airport, but they shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s make sure we’re ready, willing and able to listen and cater to their needs – be it reminiscing about the childhood of Tove Jansson in Klovharun, swimming in a frozen lake or recreating their own version of the music video for Freestyler on the Helsinki subway. Meanwhile we’ve got the opportunity to give them new reasons for coming back.

Published on 29.09.2016