In a conversation with ETTravelWorld on the occasion, the Finnish Ambassador to India Kimmo Lahdevirta expressed optimism about growth of tourism between the two countries.
Noting that visa applications from India to Finland have nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, the Ambassador said he expects numbers to surpass 2019 levels next year. He cited India’s growing affluence and passport ownership as factors enabling more Indians to travel abroad.
Ambassador Lahdevirta said the average waiting time for a Finnish visa application from India is currently within two weeks. He hopes this will make Finland an attractive Schengen destination for Indian travellers seeking shorter visa processing times compared to countries like the US.
He said that tourism prospects between India and Finland are very good. “Now, of course, the pandemic caused a slump in the tourism industry as well. But now we have already reached almost the level of 2019, for example, in visa applications, and I think that’s indicative that the number of people who are travelling is increasing, I’m pretty confident that next year, we will have even bigger numbers than we had in 2019. So, I would say that the trend is very good. I think, India is becoming more and more affluent, more and more Indians actually have passports. And I think the number keeps increasing steadily all the time. And, of course, Finland is an interesting destination. And it’s not perhaps always the cheapest destination. But certainly, the interesting one. I am confident that number of Finnish tourists in India will continue to rise,” he said. Talking about challenges, the Ambassador said, “One of the challenges we have had is that India is not that well known in Finland. But I think Finland is not that well known in India either. So, we certainly want to continue the efforts to put Finland on the map of India and India on the map of Finland. So that’s that’s an ongoing project,” he mentioned.
Both countries aim to promote greater awareness about each other’s cultures and destinations, according to the Ambassador. He highlighted several top places for Indians to visit in Finland, including Helsinki, the Lake District and Lapland‘s winter landscapes.