Nina Hilden, Marketing Manager of Visit Finland, tells ITCM how Finland is holding its position in the world’s top 20 association destinationsOne automatically assumes that Finland (which sounds like ‘the end of the land’) is a terminus as far as Europe is concerned. However. Nina Hilden soon puts you right on that. She is Marketing Manager of Visit Finland, based in Helsinki, and reminds you that the shortest and most direct route between Europe and Asia is over the Arctic Circle.
‘Hence’, she says, proving her point, ‘Finland is a hub and an excellent central location for international conferences that attract delegates from all over Europe and from China, Japan and the rest of the Far East’.
And so when ITCM caught up with Nina on the Visit Finland stand at EIBTM 2011 in Barcelona, she was able to tell us that Finland’s MICE business is booming.
‘We are repeatedly in the top 20 destinations for association conventions’, she said. ‘These are in a range of sectors, including technical, scientific, medical and IT. Obviously Helsinki is the main centre for this business, but it is steadily spreading further around the country. We have excellent conference centres in places such as Turku, Tampere, Kuopio, Espoo and even as far north as Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland.’
Although business out of the UK has been a little lower, the MICE facilities in Finland are being kept busy by event organisers from Germany, Russia and elsewhere.
Nina also thinks that there is sometimes a false perception of Finland as a costly destination. ‘Comparing capital city with capital city’, she maintains, ‘our prices are reasonable. Excellent quality hotel accommodation is available for around 100 euros, whilst meeting packages are offered at 60 euros.’
The suppliers are constantly upgrading and expanding MICE facilities in line with the growth of the sector. Finlandia Hall has completed an extension. The level of occupancy is also much more even than one might imagine.
Nina says that ‘winter in Finland is a particular attraction and everyone is well protected from the cold. And the summer months are also beautiful, with such long days. We host corporate product launches all year round. We also find that delegates are very keen to make the most of organised leisure programmes, as Finland is so different and has so much of interest.
‘We also’, she adds, ‘welcome many incentive groups to Finland in winter. The landscape is beautiful and there is so much to do that is enjoyable and unique. Also, take into account that Finland is stable politically and economically, has a high standard of hygiene and is not prone to natural disasters, making it a wise choice for conferences, especially those that have to be planned well in advance.’
For a choice of Finland videos, summer and winter, www.incentivetravel.co.uk/visit-finland-uk