Research: Communicating the Image of North Karelia to German Market

Introduction of the study

The aim of this master’s thesis was to increase the knowledge of German tourists as a marketing segment and to clarify, what kind of image they have about North Karelia as a region. The thesis was made in collaboration with the North Karelian DMO VisitKarelia. An online survey was sent to two German Facebook-groups – Finnland Rundreisen and Finntouch – Finnland hautnah – both of them having so-called Finland enthusiasts as their followers. The survey was written in German and included 26 questions. In total 209 responses were gathered in February 2022 just before the Ukraine War started. So, the situation did not have impact on the results.

visitkarelia-hiking-forest-lake-northkarelia-pohjoiskarjala-harritarvainen

A profile of a potential German tourist

Firstly, the most potential target group, which would travel to North Karelia was discovered. A profile of a German tourist was following: a female, who is 40-59 years old. She is in relationship and has kid(s). She is currently employed, and income level is below the average (3975 € per month in Ger-many in 2020). Most likely she is from Southern or Western part of the Germany. She will arrive to Finland by plain or ship and continue trip by car or plane to North Karelia. She is traveling with a partner or family and make all the bookings by herself. In general, the willingness to travel to North Karelia within the next two years was high and most of the respondents have visited Finland several times before.

Most actively used information channels

Secondly, it was discovered which online and traditional information channels are most actively used by German tourists when they are looking for information about a destination. On the top were official web page of a destination, Booking.com and Instagram account of a destination. Also, Facebook page of a destination, travel related Facebook groups and TripAdvisor were rather high on the list. The most actively used traditional information channels were own experience, WOM from friends and relatives, guidebooks and maps. The following channels were brochures, TV, magazines, and journals. On the contrary to earlier studies, travel agencies were not actively used by this response group. Also, TikTok kept the last place.

Especially nature, lakes and forests interest German tourists in North Karelia

Thirdly, respondents were asked to describe North Karelia with three words. The results showed that North Karelia is strongly connected to nature, lakes, forests and natural phenomena. In addition, especially Karelian pies and Karelian culture were well known among the respondents. They also had a list with North Karelian attributes. Also there, nature and culture related attributes were rated high-est. Special accommodation, meditation and luxurious experiences were not important for Germans. When North Karelia visitors and non-visitors were compared, especially Finnish sauna and rural set-tings were more important for those, who have experienced them by themselves. Surprisingly, Russia was mentioned several times in contexts of border, history and location. However, the results did not reveal if it has an impact on traveling willingness.

koli-northkarelia-pohjoiskarjala-harritarvainen

What to highlight in marketing communication?

Lastly, the most important marketing communication statements were discovered. Especially, the possibility to book accommodation, activities and services online were rated on the top. Germans also appreciated, that there is information available how to reach the destination, information about distances and a map of the location. Also, sustainability was an important factor for Germans. Specially, men and respondents with higher income level found sustainability very important. Having information in German was a neutral factor. Only the age group of 60-64 rated it as an important.

 

Pictures: Harri Tarvainen / VisitKarelia

Welcome to Tourism Marketing and Management

Koli, tourism marketing and management
Picture by Karelia Expert

Welcome to the blog of International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management by University of Eastern Finland. This blog is an essential part of the programme and will bring forth the ideas and news from the programme. We aim to build a significant international platform for making tourism better with this programme and the blog. 

The programme will start during Autumn 2017. The programme seeks to attract students from Europe and Asia in particular. The programme is also open to Finnish students interested in tourism studies and holding a relevant Bachelor’s degree. The international nature of the programme makes it possible to create new networks and showcase Finland’s strengths in tourism globally, as well as to obtain new information about tourists coming from abroad.

This kind of a programme in tourism marketing and management hasn’t existed in Finland before, and the programme’s strong focus on tourism marketing will bring new life to the Finnish tourism sector. The key themes of the two-year Master’s degree programme are built around the strengths and opportunities of tourism in eastern Finland: nature, well-being, sustainable tourism, and digitalisation. The launch of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management shows that the University of Eastern Finland is confident in the positive development of the Finnish tourism sector and wants to play a role in supporting that development. Already now, tourism is a major financial factor in North Karelia and elsewhere in Finland. Globally, the tourism sector is growing by several per cent every year.

Konnevesi National Park, Finland
Konnevesi National Park, Finland

The Master’s degree programme will collaborate closely with local, national and international tourism sector companies and other actors. This collaboration is based on close interaction, with the aim of jointly developing business activities and finding solutions for any possible challenges discovered. Graduates of the Master’s degree programme will understand the role of digitalisation, customer care, customer motivation, environmental aspects and nature for the business activities of tourism companies, and they will be able to translate their understanding of these aspects into practical activities. The programme’s graduates will have the skills needed to work in a variety of different roles, for example as entrepreneurs, marketing managers, experts, coordinators, community managers and other positions involving customer relations.

The application period to the Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management will be open from 1 December 2016 to 13 January 2017. For further information, please see the programme website at www.uef.fi/tmm.

For further information, please contact:

Programme coordinator Juho Pesonen, tel. +358 40 184 2698, juho.pesonen(at)uef.fi