Port of Helsinki
25.05.2018 //
Arja Vartia
Timo Porthan

“Talsinki” is a reality in marine traffic

On the basis of ship connections, it is reasonable to say that the twin city of “Talsinki” is already well established. There is very busy traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn.

At first glance, it appears that nothing new has happened in terms of the traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn since 2008. This was the beginning of a period of growth that continued uninterrupted until the end of January this year. After this, the total figures saw a small drop of 0.7 per cent, which shipping companies believe is only temporary.

“The slight decline in ship traffic in the early part of the year represents normal fluctuation,” says Ville Haapasaari, Port of Helsinki’s new CEO.

Tallink Silja saw positive growth in the early part of the year.

“Growth was possible thanks to a comprehensive timetable and Tallink’s new larger ship, the Megastar,” says Margus Schults, Tallink Silja’s CEO.

Following trends

Ships have always been good places for shopping. Product selections vary according to trends and the tax practices in destination countries. 

Now, accessories are taking over space from the alcohol and sweet departments. For example, Tallink’s new ship, the Megastar, has a clothing department with an area of more than 700 square metres. 

Restaurant menus are also being revamped in line with the latest trends. The menus feature dishes created by well known chefs, insects and Estonian delicacies in honour of the country’s centenary. 

Tallink has developed mobile apps and other online services, such as an online store.

“Cooperation with YouTubers is a new thing. An example of this is on-board YouTube orienteering on the route to Stockholm,”says Marika Nöjd, Tallink Silja’s Communications Director. 

Proportion of Asian customers increasing

Although increasing numbers of foreigners can be seen and heard on ships, Finnish passengers are still the main group.

“On our Group’s ships, Finnish passengers are still the clear majority, accounting for 48 per cent of all passengers. About one fifth of passengers are Estonian and 12 per cent are Swedish. Other nationalities account for 13 per cent. The proportion of Asian customers – especially Chinese customers – is growing most rapidly. We strive to provide them with services in their own language,” Schults explains.

Viking Line’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Kaj Takolander estimates that the number of Asian customers is still relatively modest overall. However, the growth rate is significant.

Eckerö Line’s CEO, Taru Keronen, confirms that the number of passengers coming from Asia is constantly increasing. The fastest growth is currently coming from China. Eckerö Line has taken Asian passengers into consideration in its services: the ship’s announcements are also made in Chinese and passengers can pay using Alipay.

The proportion of passengers travelling on business has always been significant, but shipping companies do not have precise statistics on this.

Freight transport is thriving

In freight transport in particular, bulk freight is increasingly focusing on Helsinki. Economic growth and the development of the “Talsinki” twin city are increasing the amounts of freight, confirms Taru Keronen.

Tallink Silja’s freight traffic has also shown strong growth.

“The most positive development in 2017 was the growth of the freight business. Freight volumes increased by a total of 11.0 per cent, and net sales in the freight business increased by 13.3 per cent year-on-year. The positive development seen in the first four months of this year has continued on all of our routes. Once again, most freight was transported between Finland and Estonia, where growth was 12.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. The number of transported vehicles increased by 2.3 per cent,” says Håkan Fagerström, Tallink Silja’s Head of Cargo.

The same is confirmed by the Port of Helsinki’s total freight traffic figures. From January to March, a total of 3.7 million tonnes of freight was transported through the Port of Helsinki, which is 12.4 per cent more than in the corresponding period last year. Imports account for 1.8 million tonnes (+6.8%) and exports are 1.9 million tonnes (+17.7%).