Helsinki will once again offer major events this year, including the Tall Ships Races 2013 Helsinki and the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
There will also be brand new attractions, such as the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, which opens in May. Along with all the new attractions that opened during World Design Capital Helsinki 2012, it will further increase interest in Helsinki as an international travel destination. US news channel CNN already listed Helsinki as Europe’s seventh hottest destination in 2013.
Helsinki’s tourism year once again boasts a wide range of top events. The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in May will attract large numbers of Finnish and international fans to watch the games in Helsinki. The biggest spectator event of the year will be the Tall Ships Races 2013 Helsinki, which is expected to attract half a million visitors between 17 and 20 July. Around 100 ships are taking part, bringing with them 2000 young sailors. The Tall Ships Races take place in the Baltic Sea once every four years. This year the race begins in Aarhus, Denmark and then continues to Helsinki, Riga, and Szczecin in Poland. Helsinki last hosted the event in 2000.
“Spectators will have a chance to take a closer look at most of the ships when they are in port, and a full programme of related events will take place in the areas around Hietalahti and Jätkäsaari. Volunteers will play a big role in making it all happen,” says Päivi Munther, a Producer at the Helsinki City Event Office who is responsible for the arrangements in Helsinki.
Helsinki’s year as World Design Capital in 2012 resulted in several permanent new tourist attractions. For example, the Kamppi Chapel of Silence and the Abattoir food culture centre will continue to add to the interesting offerings.
Another World Design Capital project is the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, which will open its doors this spring. Haltia will offer a major new attraction in Helsinki Region from May onwards, presenting Finland’s diverse nature to visitors in an exciting way. The nature centre is expected to further stimulate interest in nature tourism, not only to Helsinki but also to other parts of Finland, especially to the tourism centres near the country’s national parks.
Similarly to Haltia, the Kulttuurisauna “culture sauna” is a World Design Capital project that will open this year. This intriguing new public sauna is expected to attract not only local residents but also tourists interested in trying the urban sauna experience.
Tourism continues at record levels
According to preliminary information the number overnight stays (bednights) at Helsinki’s accommodation outlets in 2012 continued at around the same record level as in 2011, when 3.4 million overnight stays were recorded. Statistics Finland will publish the full accommodation statistics for 2012 in mid-February.
“We expect tourism in Helsinki to remain at the current level in 2013, with further growth among visitors from Russia, Japan and China. Due to the economic crisis in Europe, however, we still do not expect any recovery in the number of visitors from such countries as Italy or Spain,” reports Tuulikki Becker, Deputy Tourist Director. The European Travel Commission also expects zero growth in European tourism this year, with growth resuming no earlier than 2014.