Nordicum - Real Estate Annual Finland 2013 - Page 49

Tap into Travel Invest in Finland believes that there is plenty of unexplored potential in tourism – also from the real estate perspective Photo: Visit Finland One of the sectors which has really taken off in Finland recently is travel & tourism which still has monster potential. In this field, there are interesting opportunities for real estate investors with big ambitions. As it stands, what the industry often lacks is prime real estate to anchor operations, says Tuija Tommila, Business Development Manager from Invest in Finland. There’s a wave of new construction rising around the country – but room for more, too. “T here are various development projects around the nation with considerable market potential. Invest in Finland is currently mapping out projects that foreign investors and companies can participate in,” Tommila says, adding that the list of prospects ranges from exciting theme parks to exotic winter holiday destinations. Nordic Number One Hanna Lankinen, Senior Director for Invest in Finland, points out that tourism increased significantly in Finland in 2012 – even though global tourism numbers are declining. “Tourism has been growing faster in Finland than in the other Nordic countries,” Lankinen says, adding that Helsinki’s stint as the World Design Capital in 2012 probably has something to do with this. She lists the strengths of tourism in Finland: the country’s location, nature and attractive travel destinations with strong brands. “Whether you’re opting for a holiday in Lapland, Turku Archipelago or Helsinki, you know that you’re in for something very special,” Lankinen says. Another booster is formation of tourism clusters which means more diverse service packages. Tommila and Lankinen believe that as a whole, the tourism industry is underdeveloped in Finland, which means great growth opportunities for the future. Russian Love Affair Finland: The Place to Be The “ace in the hole” for Finnish tourism has been Russian visitors. In 2012, the number of Russian tourists reached a new record, with about 1.5 million overnight stays. Especially the turn of the year is a hot tourist season as Russians enjoy long vacations at the time. As 2012 eased into 2013, about 400,000 Russians headed into Finland. Also tax free purchases by Russian tourists increased by about a quarter in 2012. “Proximity to Russia is a clear asset and Russians constitute the biggest tourist group. They also spend a lot of money on vacation,” Hanna Lankinen says. In addition to shopping, the Russians especially value Finland’s security and closeness to nature. Still, there are other, even surprising, opportunities emerging. For example, increasing numbers of Russian visitors are coming to Finland for cancer treatment, perinatal services, surgery and dental care. The demand for Finnish health services has been growing rapidly in recent years and the market is expected to triple by the end of this decade. Tommila and Lankinen point out that Finnish tourism is in a very nice position right now: business is booming, and the Finnish economy has performed rather well even with global economic turmoil pressing on. “Finland is one of the most attractive countries for investment,” Hanna Lankinen says. The business environment is rooted on honesty, as the shared number one spot on the Transparency International’s listing for the least corrupt countries suggests. In addition, Forbes Magazine recently ranked Finland as number 9 on its “Best Countries for Business” list. Finland scored especially high in property rights (1), innovation (3) and corruption (2). The recent Grant Thornton Global Dynamism Index (GDI) placed Finland even higher, ranking Finland as the second best country for dynamic businesses to flourish. “Furthermore, business is really easy to do here, with access to free, transparent information forming a solid base for operations,” Tuija Tommila says, adding that organisations such as Invest in Finland make sure that the newcomers feel comfortable right from the start. Nordicum 47