Finland Tourism Marketing Means More Than Santa Claus

It’s not too often your destination can say it is the birthplace of one of the most historical and folkloric figures in many Western cultures. Last time the Visit Finland team checked, St. Nick’s private retreat is in Korvatunturi, Lapland, but his official hometown is Rovaniemi.

We had the opportunity to interview Eva Kiviranta, head of social media and PR at Visit Finland, about how a country rich in history, small towns, and yes, Santa Claus, effectively promotes and markets all year round to potential tourists thinking about taking a trip to Finland. The Finland tourism office definitely has some interesting campaigns to stir interest in out of town travelers.

What are the 3 biggest attractions in Finland travelers should know about?

Suomenlinna fortress island, old wooden towns in Porvoo and Rauma, and the empty and vast fell areas in Lapland (especially Saariselkä, Ylläs and Kilpisjärvi).


Suomenlinna’s village fete (source:

What are your biggest challenges with getting people to learn about your tourism opportunities?

Finland is still rather unknown as a destination, which is both a strength and a challenge for us. But usually after people have heard about Finland and visited Finland, they are hooked ;).

What types of traditional or digital marketing do you currently do or plan to do to attract more visitors?

We do large image campaigns twice a year, which combine print, online and outdoors advertising together with product campaigns that highlight more specific tours and destinations in Finland. On top of that, we are present and active on social media, and we work a lot with different media from journalists to TV crews to bloggers.


Can you tell us about one specific promotional strategy that worked really well for your tourism department? Why do you think it worked so well?

Not sure if it can be called a strategy, but we have gotten very good feedback from our visually different, sometimes quirky approach on things. We are a challenger brand and it shows. Especially these days when we are bombarded with messages all the time, it’s important to differentiate and be original. That’s why we have done a lot of research on things that our target audiences find intriguing about Finland, and the campaigns following have been along these lines:

Has your team used social media to promote certain attractions? Which social media platform has led to the best conversations with potential visitors?

We are present on several social media platforms. Our most active platform, with the biggest conversations with visitors and followers, take place in our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Apart from English, we also do social media in Russian, Chinese and Japanese on relevant channels, and our Japanese Facebook community, especially, is really active and engaged.


Visit Finland’s Japanese Facebook Page

Many tourist destinations have a motto or slogan that encapsulates the experience at their destination. What is the one message you would like to get across to potential visitors about Finland

Our campaigns have slogans.

For instance our image campaign in Japan was called “Country with Healing Powers“, and in China “Ice Hot Encounters” that both fit into a bigger picture of our three different marketing themes: “Silence please“, “Cultural Beat” and “Wild and Free“.

How do you approach travel marketing for visitors from different countries? What strategies work and do not work well?

On a bigger level, our strategy is mobile first, since our target audience mainly uses mobile devices.

Apart from marketing itself, we also focus a lot on research of our target markets to understand them better. These results are then carried into marketing to make sure that with the bigger investments, we reach the people we want to reach with a message they will find interesting. Different markets find different things interesting, and that’s why we need to be one step ahead.