Port of Helsinki
14.05.2019 //
Kimmo Kallonen
Veikko Somerpuro ja Timo Porthan

The port brings in money and jobs

According to a recent impact study, the Port of Helsinki’s overall economic impact on the surrounding society is more than EUR 4 billion annually. More than 25,000 people are employed in functions directly and indirectly related to the port.

The Port of Helsinki is strengthening its position as Finland’s leading port for bulk cargo and passenger traffic. Approximately half of all the bulk cargo traffic at Finnish ports travels through the Port of Helsinki. In practice, Helsinki’s share of foreign transport by lorry, using detachable trailers, was as much as at all of the other Finnish ports put together in 2018. 

Rounding out the figures for Finland’s foreign container traffic, approximately one-third is transported via the Port of Helsinki. Imports and exports in container traffic are relatively well balanced. In 2018, approximately 510,000 TEU was transported via Helsinki, 266,000 TEU of which was imports and 244,000 TEU was exports. The volume of exports shipped in containers has increased more rapidly than that for imports in recent years. 

Lorry and trailer shipments for import and export traffic via Finland’s ports: distribution between the Port of Helsinki and other ports in 2018.

The study showed that the value of all of the goods transported via the Port of Helsinki was 40–50 per cent of the total value of Finnish shipments by sea. Goods worth EUR 43–54 billion were transported via the Port of Helsinki in 2018. The fairly large ranges used here are mainly due to the differences in statistical methodologies and classifications of goods between the statistics maintained by Traficom and Finnish Customs.

In terms of shipped tonnage, the Port of Helsinki is the third largest port in Finland.

In terms of passenger traffic, the Port of Helsinki is head and shoulders above every other Finnish port, as well as other European ports. Last year, 11.5 million passengers travelled on scheduled routes via the Port of Helsinki. The largest passenger volumes were between Helsinki and Tallinn, which recorded 8.9 million passengers, and between Helsinki and Stockholm, which recorded 2.3 million passengers. These numbers do not include cruise ships, which further boost the number of passengers. In the summer season of 2018, around 250 cruise ships called in Helsinki, bringing in more than 500,000 international visitors.

Lorry and trailer shipments for import and export traffic via Finland’s ports: distribution between the Port of Helsinki and other ports in 2018.


Total impact of EUR 4 billion

The impact study established an estimate of the amount of turnover and personnel years of work directly related to the traffic flowing through the Port of Helsinki, as well as the indirect impact on businesses in Greater Helsinki. The most significant impact of the port is on warehousing and other sectors serving transportation, such as cargo handling, freight forwarding and haulage. The study estimated that the Port of Helsinki generates over EUR 1 billion in turnover and 7,500 jobs in these sectors.

Distribution of accrued turnover by industry category.


Other sectors in the port’s immediate sphere of influence include maritime cargo and passenger transportation, land transport, tourism and public authorities. The annual volume of business connected to the Port of Helsinki’s operations is estimated to total EUR 3 billion, encompassing more than 18,000 jobs.

The study also estimated the amount of consumption by domestic and international passengers travelling through the Port of Helsinki, investments by companies connected to the port, and municipal and corporate tax revenues. When everything is added together, the Port of Helsinki’s impact is EUR 4.1 billion in annual turnover and more than 25,000 jobs.

The study also took account of the fact that the impacts of traffic via the Port of Helsinki stretch in practice to the entire country because the Port of Helsinki is Finland’s largest port for bulk shipments and passenger transport. The fruit imported from Southern Europe and sold in supermarkets in Rovaniemi is likely to have been imported via Helsinki.

Distribution of direct employment impacts by industry category.


Environmental impact under control

The most typical environmental impacts of port functions are noise, emissions to the air, waste from vessels and impacts on bodies of water. The amount of sulphur emitted by ships has decreased substantially since 2014, when the sulphur content of shipping fuels for traffic in the Baltic Sea was limited to less than 0.1 per cent. 

In order to mitigate the effect of noise, the Port of Helsinki has already deployed a shore power system in Katajanokka. Studies are currently underway concerning shore power in the South Harbour and the West Harbour.

The Port of Helsinki seeks to promote waste management and recycling in several ways. The vessel waste fee depends on the size of the vessel, and every pier has the facility for ships to discharge their wastewater directly into the city’s sewer network at no extra charge. y

The Port of Helsinki’s 2019 impact study was conducted by the Centre for Maritime Studies at the Brahea Centre, part of the University of Turku. The project manager was Tapio Karvonen, a Senior Researcher. The study was based on extensive statistical material and telephone interviews.