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Matka Nordic Travel Fair 2024 triumphs over challenges, marks another successful year

The event brought together a diverse range of destinations and travel industry organisations showcasing a mix of international and domestic travel trends.

HELSINKI, FINLAND – The MATKA Nordic Travel Fair 2024, held in Helsinki Finland from January 18-20, 2024, proved to be another resounding success, highlighting the resilience of the travel industry despite recent global challenges.

Air-Based Packages Experience Robust Growth

Despite the uncertainties stemming from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the energy crisis, and the ongoing post-pandemic concerns, the travel industry in Finland has shown clear signs of improvement. The Association of Finnish Travel Industry (SMAL) reported a significant surge in air-based package holidays from Finland to international destinations in 2023. Approximately 676,000 packages were sold, reflecting a remarkable 31% increase compared to 2022.

VisitGreece

Greece continues to emerge as the undisputed favorite among Finnish travelers, with nearly 41% of all trips to Europe heading to the Mediterranean destination. The second favorite destination for Finns was Spain, which was a partner country at MATKA Nordic Travel Fair 2024,  with just over 180,000 packages made there. This represented 32.3 % of all trips to Europe. The Canary Islands accounted for the majority of packages in Spain. Compared to 2022, tourism to Spain grew by 25.8 % yet compared to 2019, Spanish tourism is still 22.4 % behind the pre-pandemic figures.

Long-Haul Destinations and Cruises Regain Popularity

Long-haul destinations experienced a notable uptick, with approximately 49,000 trips made in 2023, signifying a remarkable 96% increase compared to the previous year. Thailand remained a top choice, attracting over 24,000 packages. The revival of interest in long international cruises was evident, with nearly 6,600 cruise packages sold in 2023, marking a 74.6% growth compared to 2022.

Expanding Horizons: New Destinations

Two new destinations -Albania and Gambia- were showcased and after a long hiatus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Madagascar, and Namibia returned as exhibitors. The Far East added its unique aesthetic touch through impressive booths from Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Many countries are also represented through friendship associations or travel agencies, such as India and Zimbabwe.

MATKA-Gambia

“MATKA 2024 gave us an excellent start for the year. We got to meet and network with influential people from the tourism industry, aviation industry, the association of Finnish travel agencies, bloggers and top media outlets. Our objective was to raise awareness and interest towards Georgian culture, cuisine and nature amongst Finns towards Batumi, Ajara region as an all-season destination,” explains Mrs. Rusudan Kokoladze, Senior Specialist at Visit Batumi / Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara Autonomous Republic, Georgia.

VisitBatumi

Elevated Importance of Finland’s Domestic Travel and Sustainability

Recognizing the growing importance of domestic tourism during the pandemic, MATKA Nordic Travel Fair 2024 emphasized Finland’s diverse regions. Finland’s regional highlights this year were the North Karelia region (Pohjois-Karjala, in Finnish) and the Finnish Archipelago.

MATKA

Visitors witnessed an increase in responsibly produced services, and exhibitors proudly displayed the Sustainable Travel Finland label. During the Trade Professionals’ Day on January 18.1 Nina Vesterinen (Tourism Director, Helsinki Tourism and Destination Management, City of Helsinki) and Jukka Punamäki (Senior Advisor, Tourism, City of Helsinki gave a presentation on ‘Helsinki – the most sustainable tourism destination in the world.’

Nina Vesterinen

In addition, the Sustainable Travel Competition winner was announced at MATKA Travel Fair 2024 with Kasnäsudden, a family-owned spa hotel and restaurant, emerging as the winner that was awarded 10,000 euros for its comprehensive sustainability program and exemplary sustainability efforts.

MATKA

Kasnäsudden operates in Kasnäs, located in the Turku Archipelago. This family-owned business includes a hotel, restaurant, spa, meeting services, guest marina, caravan area, as well as a food store with a fish counter, a cafe, and a bakery. The criteria of the competition, including the use of clean energy, reducing energy needs, and utilizing local products, services and companies, are admirably reflected in the operations of the spa hotel and restaurant. Electricity is sourced from windmills on the nearby island of Högsåra. Measures have been taken for heat conservation, and the spa, outdoor pools, and restaurant are heated using waste heat recovered from the parent company located nearby. Water is also sourced locally, as both utility water and spa waters are purified from seawater at Kasnäs’ own treatment plant. Locally cultivated and produced products are offered in the restaurant, store, and spa.

Social responsibility is also taken into account in the operations of Kasnäs. All seniors in Kemiönsaari have free access to the spa’s services, and preschoolers are offered swimming lessons. They enable young competitive swimmers to practice in their pools. Community spirit is also important to Kasnäs, and they organize events such as Midsummer celebrations for the local residents.

A record number of 33 companies and operators participated in the Sustainable Travel Competition. The finalists showcased innovative approaches to sustainability, considering both environmental and social factors. The other finalists in the competition were Haltia Lake Lodge, Adventura Tour Operator Ltd, Scandic Hotels, and Viking Line.

Travel Insights Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website | + Posts

Chryssa Skodra is a Finland-based journalist, a celebrity interviewer, a podcaster, an award-winning blogger, a university lecturer and a public speaker. She holds a Bachelor’s in Communications and Media from Athens University and a Master’s in Arts Management from the prestigious Sibelius Academy.

She worked at spotlight international events such as the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and European Commission Conferences and Galas. She is passionate about travelling, food and events. On ‘Travel Insights’ she interviews influential and insightful thought-leaders and professionals from the tourism, aviation and hospitality industries.

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