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. “When does Lapland open?”, “Which is the sunniest terrace right now?” 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.
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.