Helsinki gets smart about courting Chinese tourists

Helsinki brings its strength as a smart destination together with product services and technologies of Tencent

Helsinki will serve as an “intelligent tourism model” for China outbound tourism, as part of a tripartite agreement signed by Chinese-founded internet giant Tencent, Helsinki and World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF).

Signed at the WTCF Los Angeles Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2017, the cooperation seeks to help Helsinki reach out to Chinese travellers by utilising network broadcasts, a Helsinki WeChat account set for launch by year end, mini programmes, AR techniques, panoramic maps, big data and other related product services.

Helsinki brings its strength as a smart destination together with Tencent services and technology; photo credit: Helsinki Marketing

In particular, a Helsinki mini application for travellers will be made available to almost one billion Tencent users, giving them access to important information about the destination and local services, in addition to pictures, videos, maps, intelligent translations, one-touch SOS function and even online tax returns.

Laura Aalto, CEO of Helsinki Marketing, said the deal represents a huge opportunity for Helsinki to be seen on the biggest digital platform in China. She added: “Helsinki is the shortest and fastest route between Asia and Europe, which has helped (the destination) become the leading longhaul airport in Northern Europe. (The programme) will help make Helsinki and its attractions more accessible to Chinese travellers.”

Helsinki has become increasingly popular among Chinese tourists in recent years. The number of overnight Chinese visitors in the city has more than doubled in the past five years, reaching almost 90,000 in 2016. And in the first six months of 2017, the number rose 43.6 per cent year-on-year.

The growth has been supported by Finnair’s Asian strategy, which sees Helsinki enjoying connections from six major Greater China cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chongqing and Xi’an). The airline will launch Helsinki-Nanjing direct flights in May 2018.

Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Finnair, remarked: “Travel planning and decision-making in China have already moved onto mobile platforms, and the Finnish tourism industry should utilise this.”

Meanwhile, WTCF, founded in Beijing in 2012 to provide a platform for international tourism cooperation, has selected Helsinki as host city of its 2019 summit.

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