I didn't even notice that there have been a few weeks break in blogging for me. During that time, I travelled to my home country Finland, and have been adjusting to a new life situation which I will be telling you about later. Here in California it has been raining day after day. After many years of drought, the reservoirs are now overloaded and we have had problems with mudslides daily. But let's go back to Finland for a moment.
After five years, I was finally able to join the Nordic Travel Fair in Helsinki again. When I was still living in Finland, I was at this fair nearly every year. Mostly I was representing some travel related company for work, but sometimes also just to seek some new ideas and inspiration. In that sense, it was interesting to visit the Nordic Travel Fair again, and see how it has changed. And this time I also had a brand new way to look at things as a blogger.
The very first thing I noticed, was that the fair was much smaller than it used to be. Some of my old colleagues mentioned, that Messukeskus where the fair was held, has overpriced the smaller businesses out from the fair, and even some bigger ones. Many trip organisers seemed to have teamed together and were now sharing a stand, in hopes of saving some money. That is very unfortunate, but maybe it will get Finnish tour operators working with each others more. I also noticed that there were many big chains and tour operators completely missing. They used to have huge stands with VIP lounges and special offers, but they were nowhere to be seen.
This year's partner country for the fair was Turkey, which had a huge stand. Trips to Turkey were sold very very cheaply, and it reinforced my hopes to visit the world heritage site Cappadocia, and Istanbul someday. I have been in Turkey a few times, but Cappadocia is something very special and I have always wanted to visit the caves there. Other stands that caught my eye were Visit Finland, Rovaniemi (a city in Finnish Lapland) and different ferry companies. Finnair (Finnish airline company) traditionally has a big stand at this fair, but this time it didn't attract me. For some reason I didn't come to find out what the idea was behind it.
I was very pleasantly surprised, that most people in the Finnish stands were really prepared and ready to talk to people with a smile. In many stands from other countries people were discussing with each other, playing with their phones or even read newspapers. I was very confused by that! Even when I stopped at their stand to see the brochures, they would not greet me or talk to me. Are these people really working for this country, or just brought in to make sure that the stand exists? This year's hit seemed to be virtual travelling with virtual reality glasses. Many countries showed their travel destinations thru the glasses.
One of the themes in the Nordic Travel Fair this year was culinary travelling, which I used to work with a lot in my past. It was great to see that finally, it was in the spotlight. To many travellers, food and wine are an important consideration when they choose their destination, and there is a growing demand for culinary- and wine trips as wells as trips with cooking classes incorporated. We followed the Chef of the Year and the Waiter of the Year contests for a while, which were done at the travel fair for the first time. We were also interested to see which food would be officially chosen to be Finland's national food. And the winner is.... Rye bread! Last year I wrote about missing Finnish foods and Finnish style rye bread was one of them!
Finnish travel bloggers were also at the Nordic Travel Fair. The Travel Bloggers Give Back -campaign raised funds for children's education in Laos. Also Gone with the Wine participated by donating a travel photo for sale. I also participated in some talks aimed at travel bloggers, and in an evening program at the Clarion Hotel Helsinki. It was a lot of fun, and it was nice to meet so many other travel bloggers.
In February I will be visiting a travel fair in California, and I can tell you how they differ from the Nordic Travel Fair. I am anxious to see the set up and participants of the Travel and Adventure Show. Until then, we will be having more rainy days here California, but it should be sunny on the day of the travel show.