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How to put the destination on the world tourist map in the eyes of a Russian tourist

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In the development of tourism and the image of any destination, marketing plays a crucial role. RMAA agency launches a series of interviews to find out how different countries and regions attract tourists from Russia. Today Anna Härkönen, VisitKarelia Destination Project Coordinator, will talk about what marketing activities are helping a small region of Finland attract Russian travelers, what challenges they have and how they overcome them.

-What are the country's overall inbound tourism statistics and what is Russia's share in it?

-Inbound tourism in Finland in 2019 was 7 039 441 overnight stays. Russian tourists had in Finland 813 669 registered overnight stays. In Finland, overnight stays are collected only from accommodation services providers, which have more than 20 beds. These numbers do not include for example cottages and apartments.

In region North Karelia last year registered Russian tourist overnight stays were 22 977. All inbound tourists overnight stays in North Karelia 70 014.

-Is your country interested in Russian tourists’ attraction?

-Yes. Russian market is important especially for the eastern part of Finland. Total tourist flow in North Karelia is app. 500 000 overnight stays. Russian tourists make up more than 30% of the inbound tourist flow. Therefore it is one of our key target audiences.

-How is your region positioned in the global market?

-North Karelia is not mass tourism destination. We have limited capacity and we develop our tourism services with sustainability. VisitKarelia goal is double tourism numbers in the region in the next 10 years. Especially we are looking for inbound tourism rise from Europe and Russia.

-Are there any fundamental differences in positioning on the Russian market, or do you act within a single strategic and marketing concept?

-VisitKarelia has a single strategy and concept to all markets with market-specific additions. During the marketing campaign 2019 in Russia, our main task was to put the Finnish northern Karelia on the world tourist map in the eyes of a Russian tourist.

-Who is your target audience in Russia?

-Before creating our marketing strategy, we conducted a study of the Russian market, in particular, of our audience. During the study, we were able to identify three groups of tourists vacationing in Finnish North Karelia, which differ in the purpose of the visit. The first group is nature lovers who travel on their own, rent a house and enjoy nature, spa, and hiking. The second segment, lovers of active leisure, who mainly visit the Koli ski resort, prefer a sports holiday: skiing, snowboarding, etc. And the third segment, lovers of attractions that spend time in cities, go sightseeing, go to cafes and restaurants, go shopping, most often those who come with excursions from travel agencies.

-Through which channels do you build communication with them (which tools do you use)?

-The key marketing channels in the Russian market for us are social media and our website, which provides basic information about the region for tourists. In 2019, it was important for us to increase brand awareness in Russia. Together with the marketing agency, we developed a creative project: A map of crazy actions, the announcement of which allowed us to get good media coverage. Also, the project was actively promoted through travel-influencers and bloggers.

-How do you distribute the budget for online and offline promotion?

-As I noted above, today we use mainly digital channels. Therefore, 80% of the marketing budget goes to online promotion.

-Who are your key competitors in the market today and how do you track their marketing activity in the Russian market?

-Our key competitors are Russian regions and nature areas, other regions in Finland, other Nordic countries. Russian Karelia is not only our competitor, it is also our main strategic partner. We use each other's strengths to promote our regions as one Karelia to the international travel markets.

-What are the main criteria you use to evaluate the performance of the marketing department of your marketing activities in Russia?

-Our main goal is to increase the "quality tourist flow", and not just increase the number of tourists in the region. It is important for us to create such conditions so that solvent tourists come to Finnish North Karelia and they want to return to our region again and again.

-Tell us about the best or worst advertising campaign in the Russian market that you conducted.

-Last year was our first active marketing year. Now it is difficult to evaluate the result of the work done, but we hope that our marketing activity will help increase the flow of Russian tourists, and by the end of 2020 we will be able to more specifically talk about the results of the work and our marketing experience in the Russian market.

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About the Author

Marketing Director, editor-in-chief of the RMAA Agency Blog

Author Yulia Vasilyeva
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