Seminar “Mad about Finland” at ITB Asia Tourism Fair, Singapore

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have a pleasure to welcome you to this Mad about Finland seminar!

As you may know Finland is a Nordic country located between East and West, with snowy winters and warm, light-filled summers. Due to these facts it offers a number of fascinating contrasts your clients to experience.

It is easy to get to Finland. It is the closest country to Asia when arriving to Europe. You can use for example our national carrier Finnair´s extensive Asian network and its most direct route from Asia to Helsinki.

The first impression you get, looking out from the window of the plane, is that there are a lot of trees, with lakes in between. And a few small farms and small towns. So it’s kind of a surprise when you land in our capital Helsinki to find that the airport is so modern and efficient.

I am not exaggerating when telling you that Finland is the most functional country in the world. Airplanes and trains run on time, restaurant bills have no hidden charges and all streets and even airport runways are kept clean, even if there has a severe winter storm on the previous night. One driving force behind this world-class functionality is our country’s level of social trust. In one Gallup Poll Finns ranked number one in the world in those who believe that their wallets would be returned to them if it were lost.

We do not have the world’s tallest buildings or the largest shopping malls. We do not have many of the extravagant constructions and attractions either. BUT the experiences we can offer you are authentic, natural, small, cozy and simple. Did you know that Finland is the one and only home of Santa Claus, the Moomin characters and Angry Birds, for example?

Moreover, the world´s cleanest nature, forests and thousands of lakes and islands offer plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy beautiful natural surroundings. A long sea-front with the largest Archipelago in Europe is one of the places to experience the beauty of Finland. We don´t only have the clean air to breath, but the cleanest tap water to drink.

The nature can be experienced for example in the National Parks or by trying out some of the many organized nature activities such as skiing, fishing, canoeing, or wild-life watching. A tour across the forests and fells with your own team of dogs or reindeer is as close to a true Finnish experience as you can get. Finland is also one of the best places on Earth to spot the Northern Lights, the blazing colors in the sky. They appear on more than 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland. It is a-once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of us.

In a contrary to all that our capital Helsinki is a vibrant international city offering the score of urban events, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, with cultural offerings ranging from rock to classical and contemporary art and design, not to forget the shopping possibilities it offers.

Depending of the season your clients are planning to travel, we offer uniquely exotic experiences each season. Four times a year, nature changes its uniform completely – color, light, temperature, sounds and smells. Finland in the winter and summer feels like two completely different countries. Our summers are warm, not hot, and days are long and nights are short with white nights and the Midnight Sun, meaning 24 h sunlight a day! Finland is the best place in winter if your clients wish to experience snowy winters when days are short but nights are long, with a spectacular light of snow or a moonlight shadow on snow. Not only the climate but also Finns are considered to be cool – a bit quiet and reserved. But they are actually warm, friendly, hospitable and especially honest people.

We hope that those of you, who already have Finland as part of your program, will find new ideas to diversify it or even extend your clients stay. There are plenty of good options besides Helsinki and Lapland to select from. If your clients are looking for a destination where they can get off the beaten track of traditional European tourist attractions and are bored of crowded places, or they wish to do something that their friends have never done like haven´t had fun in the snow or sat in the lap of the Santa Claus, Finland is your choice.

As a minister responsible for tourism affairs in Finland, I promise you we do our best to make your clients´ visit an experience of a lifetime. Our tourism companies attending this fair together with the Visit Finland will make you even madder about Finland. I hope we´ll see you and more of your clients in Finland in the near future. Thank you for your attention.