Helsinki Helpers serve 145,000 visitors over the summer
Helsinki’s mobile tourist information advisors began their season on Helsinki Day, 12 June, and by the end of August they had served already 145,000 visitors.
Anton Karppanen, 21, and Sofia Perhomaa, 29, served as Helsinki Helpers this summer. Anton is in his third year of Asian studies at the University of Helsinki and will be an exchange student in China for the next year. Sofia earned a Master’s degree in Cultural Geography and returned in spring from Peru, where she did volunteer work for empowering women for eight months. Photo: Jussi Hellsten
“When does Lapland open?”, “Which is the sunniest terrace right now?”, “When is local band Haloo Helsinki going to start playing gigs again?”, “Can I pay with eurodollars in Helsinki?”, “Why does Uspenski Cathedral have that kind of cross on its domes?” *. These are just some of the actual questions that the Helsinki Helpers had to find answers for this summer.
This summer visitors have been served by 22 Helsinki Helpers who between them speak a total of 14 languages: Finnish, Swedish, English, Russian, Danish, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
The Helsinki Helpers work in pairs throughout the city centre and have also been on hand to greet cruise ships as they arrive. Most visitors were served this summer at the Tourist Information desk inside the Central Railway Station and at the Info Container on Keskuskatu alongside the Ateneum Art Museum. The Helsinki Helpers also used their “Helper Mobile”, a customised bike with a box in the front for carrying brochures, to serve as many visitors as possible.
“The busiest day of the summer for us was Monday 25 July, when three large cruise ships visited Helsinki simultaneously bringing with them approximately 9500 cruise visitors. Most of these one-day visitors were from the UK, USA, Italy, Spain and France,” says Anni Lehtonen, one of the Helsinki Help supervisors.
“Around 90 percent of the visitors served by the Helsinki Helpers are foreigners. The next biggest customer segment comprises local residents, who have become familiar with the Helsinki Helpers over the years and are now used to asking them for tips about events and restaurants, for example. Locals also know that the Helsinki Helpers hand out coupons with useful discounts,” Anni’s colleague Petteri Paavilainen adds.
Visit Helsinki will begin updating its Tourist Information service concept this autumn with the aim of identifying the best ways to serve visitors when they are most looking for assistance. The new service concept will be tested at Helsinki Airport in the transit area, where a pop-up Tourist Information desk will provide services especially to visitors from Asia.
The new Tourist Information service concept is part of a broader project to update Helsinki’s marketing activities. Further information is available on the Brand New Helsinki website.
The Helsinki Help programme originally began as an employment scheme in 1995. These days the project is funded and made possible by the partner companies working together with the City of Helsinki. This year the Helsinki Helpers have a record 29 sponsors:
Ateneum, Hard Rock Cafe, Royal Line/City Tour, JT-Line, Strömma, Tallink Silja, Linnanmäki, Helsinki City Marketing, the Helsinki Festival, A&S Restaurants, Sea Life, Visit Porvoo, the Military Museum of Finland, Viking Line, Helsinki Art Museum, Hernesaaren Ranta, the Theatre Museum, the Finnish Museum of Photography, the Hotel and Restaurant Museum, Helsinki Music Centre, Galleria Esplanadi, Happy Hour Restaurants, HOK-Elanto Restaurants, Didrichsen Art Museum, Kankurin Tupa, Löyly, Graniittiravintolat, OTZ Shoes, Halti, DNA and Huawei.
*Many of the crosses on the domes of Uspenski Cathedral do not resemble ordinary church crosses. The curve beneath the cross represents a boat with the cross as its mast. Many of the apostles were fishermen, and the boat is one of the earliest Christian symbols alongside the fish. The church edifice itself is often considered to be a ship sailing in the storm of the world.
Tuomas Lempinen, Caretaker at Uspenski Cathedral
Mari Somero, Tourist Information Supervisor, +358 9 310 36622, email@example.com
Anni Lehtonen and Petteri Paavilainen, Helsinki Help Supervisors, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eija Väliranta, Communications and Press Officer
+358 (0)9 310 25800
Visit Helsinki is a marketing name used by Helsinki Marketing Ltd, a city-owned company that is responsible for the city’s marketing operations.