Port of Helsinki takes the top spot among passenger ports in Europe and worldwide for the first time.
Helsinki is now the busiest passenger port in Europe and, according to numerous media reports such as China’s Xinhua news agency and the Finnish broadcaster YLE, the entire world.
The port saw 12.3 million passengers in 2017, up 2.4% from the previous year, beating the previous leader Port of Dover where passenger traffic has been shrinking since 2014 from 13.3 million to 11.7 million in 2017.
Of the total in Helsinki, 74% sailed to or from Tallinn, 19% Stockholm, 2% St Petersburg, 1% Travemünde in Germany, while 4% were international cruise passengers.
While passenger traffic has remained fairly stable in Tallinn and Stockholm since 2008, in Helsinki it has doubled, from just under 6 million in 2008 to 12.3 million.
Though the Swedish capital has not yet posted its passenger statistics for 2017, traffic at Ports of Stockholm, which operates three different ports, remained at 11.7 million for the three previous years of 2014-16.
Passenger stats continue to increase in Finland on the Helsinki-Tallinn route in particular, up 3.2% to 9 million, reflecting the development of Helsinki and Tallinn as ‘twin cities’ with close economic and social ties.
Liner traffic to Stockholm (2.3 million pax), St Petersburg and Travemünde remains stable, as it has for several years, but international cruise traffic has increased significantly.
During the year, Helsinki recorded 266 international cruise visits with 478,000 (+ 16.8%) cruise passengers – an all-time record.
“In recent years, shipping companies have introduced larger and faster ships for the Helsinki-Tallinn route, while also increasing their passenger capacities during peak seasons,” says the port’s passenger harbours director Kari Noroviita.
“The Port of Helsinki, meanwhile, has responded to demand by significantly increasing its capacity for fast scheduled traffic to Tallinn with the opening of the new West Terminal 2 and related area arrangements in February 2017.”
The united economic area formed by Helsinki and Tallinn is based in part on flexible and frequent ferry traffic between the two cities. One of the latest trends in the area is the increasing popularity of Finland and the Baltic Sea among Asian tourists in particular.
The port’s impact on Helsinki’s tourism services, hotel and restaurant industries, transport and retail trade is significant. Marine passengers bring over €805 million to the Helsinki region annually, and the combined total revenue generated by operations related to the port is around EUR 1.6 billion.