It is a perfect time to plan a trip to Finland. I’ll explain.
Feedback from international tourists says that Finnish people are friendly and that the encounters with locals are the highlights of their holidays. The same finding was sifted out when some Hongkongers and mainlanders were polled recently. Finland is viewed as a beautiful, modern and safe country with a high quality of life. And Finns are perceived of as peaceful, honest and friendly. This surprises Finns, because our own self-image is somewhat impassive. The praise must resonate with truth, though, because according to the World Economic Forum Finland is the world’s fifth happiest country.
And this is getting better. The best present Santa Claus provided for Finland during 2017 - the year we have been celebrating the centenary of our independence - is that our economy is expanding at the most robust pace within the euro area. European Commission predicts +3.3 per cent growth. So, if we were the fifth happiest and friendly already with the modest growth, go and see what +3.3 % brings about!
Here in Hong Kong our 100th anniversary has been an active one. Finnish strengths were highlighted with PolyU in a lecture series and networking events promoting innovations, startup ecosystem, health technology and food safety.
Our minister of education and science visited recently and found out that Hong Kong and its institutions have concrete plans to intensify links with my country. Some teaching and learning innovations have already been piloted in Hong Kong schools, selected by Hong Kong Education City. More delegations are coming to scan opportunities here.
One promising area of cooperation is to make cities smarter. We believe that transport, building, energy and e-health solutions can be updated smartly so that citizens benefit. Finnish funding agency for innovations signed an agreement with Hong Kong Smart City Consortium last month.
What else? Finnish film opened the European Film Festival. Our companies presented their know-how at a Finland 100 Expo. We have danced with Finnish music at a summer party whose gin consumption broke our estimations but luckily not quite our budget. A world premiere of a Chamber Music piece by a Hong Kong based Finnish composer took place two weeks ago.
It is not too late to taste and feel Finland before the end of the year. Stanley Plaza organizes its famous Xmas market this year with a theme “Finnish Christmas Wonders” on December 9 & 10 and 16 & 17. The Real Santa will be welcoming you, and Finnish food and beverages will be available.
Another opportunity to get acquainted with a cornerstone of our culture is an event called ‘Hot is Cool: A Cultural Dialogue between Finland and Hong Kong’. A modern sauna and Chinese pavilion will be put up side by side in front of the Cultural Centre. Unfortunately the hot sauna shifts have been booked up already but you can visit the buildings on December 9-13.
See you in these events!
Jari Sinkari, Consul-General of Finland to Hong Kong and Macao. The original text was published by The Standard, issue of December 6.