The Port at the heart of society

The success of port operations is bound to the development of the rest of the society. The brisk growth of the Finnish economy that went on for a few years reached its pinnacle from the perspective of harbour traffic in 2018. After the spring, a downward trend in economic forecasts has been observed in the public, although the forecasts show that the growth should still continue, albeit slower.

At the Port of Helsinki, cargo and passenger traffic comprehensively represent the Finnish business world and private consumption. Even though the growth of overall traffic in 2018 was approximately 5% and forecasting institutions predict the GDP growth to be 1–2%, the sights of the harbour industry have already been set expectantly to the next potential economic upswing.

Sea travel remains popular

In 2018, the overall number of passengers started a slight decline. There was even a dip in the trend of an increasing percentage of Asian tourists that had continued for a number of years, except in Lapland. Comparisons between nationalities show that Asians spend the most money. Shipping companies’ investments in new vessels and a better service level make travelling more attractive for people living in the surrounding areas, but the Baltic Sea is also considered an interesting destination by people further away. The international cruise traffic on the Baltic Sea is expected to keep growing in the coming years.

The cooperation agreement between Helsinki and Tallinn, signed in 2018, enhances the twin city development, as well as helping keep the traffic busy, developing services and improving the condition of the Baltic Sea in a shared area. The effects of alcohol laws and taxation in Estonia and Finland are also observed on both sides of the Gulf of Finland.

Overall cargo traffic passes over 100 million tonnes

The relative share of maritime transport in Finland’s foreign trade increased slightly, which strengthens the significance of ports as a key part of the national transportation chain. Therefore, the realisation of successful traffic solutions is essential. The EU has also paid attention to this and formed principles for implementing a Europe-wide core transportation network. Helsinki and Tallinn are a part of this, and the ports of both Helsinki and Tallinn are core ports in the network. EU facilitates the implementation of the network by offering various financial instruments that have been utilised for implementing harbour and traffic infrastructure.

Raw wood has been transported both to and from Finland notably more than the previous year. The export of coal and import of grain were increased. The amounts of general cargo are slightly higher than the previous year, which can be seen in the statistics of the Port of Helsinki, to the delight of the owner. Container traffic has slightly decreased at a national level, whereas the growth in the number of trucks and trailers can best be seen in Helsinki’s West Harbour, but certainly also in Naantali and Hanko.

Work towards combating global warming

The size of vessels in both cargo and passenger traffic is growing. Cargo and people are transported faster and in larger numbers than before and, at best, with at most the same costs and a smaller environmental impact.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming has reached the point where rapid action is needed to reduce emissions to avert the risks for people and nature. The strategy of the Port of Helsinki Ltd defined being a pioneer of sustainable development as one of the key projects.

Harbour industry transforms with opened competition

The requirements of the EU’s Port Services Regulation come into effect on 24 March 2019. The regulation prescribes, for example, that port services are to be opened for competition, including mooring and unmooring of vessels, bunkering, towing services and waste management.

The Port of Helsinki Ltd decided in November 2018 to separate the production of port services into a subsidiary company. The arrangement was implemented on 1 January 2019, when vessel mooring and unmooring services and the 60 employees involved in those activities were transferred to South Finland Port Services Ltd (with the marketing name SF Port Service).