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Tourism in Finland: Carbon Efficiency - the New Metrics for Tourism Industry?

In 2018, a total of 8.2 million and as many as 9.3 million foreign tourists visited Finland in 2019, which was 12 percent more than the previous year. 2020 was expected to be another record-breaking tourism year, which was, however, hampered by the corona pandemic.

In 2020, a total of 2.6 million foreign tourists visited Finland, i.e. 72 percent less than the previous year. The downward trend continued in the following year 2021, when the number was only 1.5 million, 40 percent less than the previous year. The profile of foreign tourists changed significantly due to the pandemic with the share of holiday tourists collapsing. After the start of the pandemic, tourism regions became more interested in domestic tourists than before, which is why we launched the TAK Domestic Tourism survey.

In 2020, for the first time, we received comparable information on domestic and international tourists, which has made the studies even more relevant and interesting. Lapland, Uusimaa and South Karelia stood out as destination areas for foreign tourists, while domestic tourists visited Uusimaa, Pirkanmaa and Southwest Finland the most. Northern Ostrobothnia was also among the most significant tourism regions among Finns.

Between April 2020 and December 2021, foreign tourists made 2.9 million trips to Finland. They spent a total of 458 million euros in Finland, €345 per tourist. At the same time, a total of 59.4 million domestic trips were made in Finland. Domestic tourists spent €132 per tourist in Finland, a total of 7.8 billion euros.

Along with monitoring tourism volume and tourism income, the carbon footprint produced by tourists has also become essential. On average, traveling by plane is the most polluting form of transportation, and the longer the trip, the higher the emissions.

Tourists from the United States spend roughly 1.5 times more money on their trip in Finland than foreign tourists on average, but the carbon footprint per tourist caused by transportation is many times higher.

If we look at carbon dioxide emissions in relation to tourists' consumption, tourists from America and Australia and Oceania have the worst carbon efficiency* (CO / €). The Baltic countries and Finland, on the other hand, are the best tourism countries in terms of carbon efficiency – emissions in relation to tourism income are on average four times lower that of those from faraway countries. Among the other high-volume tourism countries, Germans, Swedes and the British are tourists whose emissions are moderate in relation to the tourism income they bring to the region.

*the ratio of carbon dioxide emissions caused by the trip to the money spent (per traveler)

Sources: TAK Research, TourMIS


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