"Finland in all weathers" - Finnish tourism on display in Warsaw

Making contacts with international partners is crucial in any industry, but especially in tourism. Opportunities to meet potential customers at international fairs and in person are particularly rewarding for entrepreneurs. In March 2023, a group of Finnish tourism companies met important contacts at the Warsaw Travel Fair.
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Our group of 6 people flew from Finland to Warsaw Travel Fair and Tourism B2B meetings in Warsaw on 14-18 March 2023. In Warsaw, we were joined by trip leader Katarzyna Jämsä from Centria University of Applied Sciences. On 16 March, before the opening of the actual travel fair, we held a half-hour event "Finland in all weathers" at the Palace of Culture and Science, opened by Finnish Ambassador to Poland Päivi Laine in fluent Polish. She was followed by Tomasz Zubilewicz, the weather forecaster of the big TVN television station. He is very well known in Poland, and spoke about his experiences in Finland and his plans to write a travel book "Finland in all weathers". We also heard excellent presentations from our companies from Kalajoki, Rukapalvelu and Peera Hotels about tourism in Finland. There were both casual visitors and representatives of travel agencies present.

The Travel Fair was held in a magnificent cultural and scientific palace built in the 1950s right in the city centre. The fair was held in a smaller format than before, after the covid pandemic, and attracted around 150 exhibitors from Poland and abroad. The Scandinavian countries, however, were not represented at all.

The main objective of our Warsaw trip was to establish contacts between the participating Finnish tourism companies and local tour operators. Our travelers met and discussed with several Polish tour operators in Warsaw, presenting their offer in both winter and summer tourism. Finland as a summer destination was also of interest to the tour operators. A few travel agencies already offer trips to Finland, mainly to Lapland in winter, but there is demand for educational trips and circular tours, for example. A key problem has been the low level of promotion and awareness of Finnish destinations.

Poland is the fifth largest country in the EU in terms of population, with around 38 million inhabitants. More than 200 Finnish companies, such as Miilux from Raahe and Scanfil from Sievi, are already operating in Poland. Although the average salary in the country is €1,400 per month, Poles are keen travelers: summer holidays are spent mainly in Italy, Croatia and Greece, and winter holidays in Central Europe. Instead of crowded and hot resorts, Poles are increasingly interested in new destinations offering space, nature and activities.

So far, Finland is not very well known as a tourist destination, although Warsaw is only 915 km from Helsinki, a shorter distance than from Helsinki to Ivalo. Local public relations and social media visibility would be important to improve Finland's visibility. During the trip, we met social media influencer Jacek Ciszak, whose website, skionline.pl, features skiing videos about Finland in winter.

We organized also a tourism study trip Warsaw-Poznan-Berlin in cooperation between UMBR-ELLA and LAKU -projects on 3-6 May. For autumn 2023, a fair trip and stand at the Potznan Travel Fair is planned.

Ulla Lehtinen, DrTech., Project Manager, LAKU project, Kerttu Saalasti Institute, MicroENTRE

MicroENTRE of the Kerttu Saalasti Institute at the University of Oulu is a partner in the UMBR-ELLA project managed by CENTRIA University of Applied Sciences, which has supported the internationalization capacities of micro-enterprises in North Ostrobothnia, especially in sectors with high potential in the foreign market, namely design, tourism and natural products. Poland has been a particular target market for the project, where several study visits have been organized during the project period from 1.12.2019 to 31.12.2023. For more information: katazyna.jamsa@centria.fi