Finnish Board Steps Up King's Road Programs

Reed Travel Features

NEW YORK -- The Finnish Tourist Board here stepped up its marketing of the King's Road -- the 12th century royal route on the southern coast.

The "road" is actually a set of land and sea products introduced last year that traces the route Russian and Scandinavian royalty used on their diplomatic journeys. Footholds and fortresses were established along the way, many of which exist today between Oslo, Norway, to the west and St. Petersburg, Russia, to the east.

Last year, the tourist board received 12,000 consumer inquiries about the program, Nino de Prado, marketing director, said. He said a cooperative advertising campaign contributed to a 6% increase in arrivals from the U.S., which totaled 190,283 last year.

This year, the tourist board has issued a 50-page publication, the King's Road-Finland 1998 Manual. The manual, designed for the trade, describes King's Road offerings by 19 Finnish and North American suppliers.

A 16-page King's Road-Finland brochure for consumers is also available. The brochure can be viewed on the Web site at Hotel partners also have signed on to the King's Road program, including the Ramada Hotel Turku, Cumulous Innotel Kotka and Radisson SAS Hotel Helsinki. Historical cities that have been added to the route are Porvoo, established in 1346, and Lappenranta, founded in the 17th century.

King's Road itineraries introduced this year feature cycling, sailing and independent travel. For instance, one-week bike packages operated by Scanam World Tours gives cyclists the chance to pedal along the Kings' Road in 25- to 30-mile segments. The tour, priced at $995, double, land only, starts in Helsinki, Finland, and explores churches, manor houses, museums and craft centers.

The King's Road Your Way for independent travelers, operated by Jensen, Nelson's Scandinavia and Nordique, uses public bus and train service in southern Finland. Stops on the itinerary include Turku, home of the 750-year-old Turku Castle, the open-air Handicraft Museum and Turku Cathedral; the Aura River, where a steamboat cruise travels through the Finnish archipelago to the spa town of Naantali; Ekenas, near Fiskar Village with its 17th century ironworks, and Bengtskar, which is reported to have the largest lighthouse in Scandinavia. Seven-day trips start at $450, double, land only.

For those who want to trace the King's Road by water, daily 10-hour cruises aboard an old-fashioned schooner are offered by Norvista. The program travels between Suomenlinna Castle in Helsinki and Svarholm fortress in Loviisa this summer. Both monuments are marking their 250th anniversaries this year.

The sailings, part of a one-and-a-half-day excursion, include musical entertainment, children's activities, dining, accommodations in Loviisa, a museum visit and bus transportation back to Helsinki the following morning. The sailings are priced at $469, double.
Finnish Tourist Board
Phone: (800) Fin-Info or (212) 885-9737
Fax: (212) 885-9710

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