Urban nature experiences from land, sea and air. The Helsinki Region product competition sought sustainable, innovative and easily approachable urban nature experiences.
Free Independent Traveler (FIT) tourism is set to grow in the post-pandemic world. At the same time, sustainable values are predicted to dominate international tourism in the future. Consumers are looking for authentic experiences that fit their personal preferences and lifestyles.
In line with these trends, the Helsinki Region product competition invited proposals from companies investing in sustainable tourism development and offering urban nature experiences to individual travellers. The competition also assessed how the products reflected the unique selling points of the Helsinki Region.
The chosen winners of the competition were five companies whose product ideas succeeded in combining urban and nature experiences innovatively, adhering to the principles of sustainable tourism. These products offer the traveller many different ways to experience urban nature – from the land, sea and air.
Natura Viva's product "Helsinki Suburbs and Archipelago" elegantly combines city and nature, offering the traveller a tour of urban Vuosaari combined with kayaking in the Eastern Helsinki archipelago. The journey to Vuosaari is on the metro and with a guide, so going to the destination is also an opportunity to experience the urban culture as the locals do. With the HSL day ticket, the traveller can also continue their adventure to lesser-known neighbourhoods after the guided tour. "The excursion introduces the traveller to the most maritime part of Helsinki and its surrounding nature", says Arhi Leveelahti, Sales Manager at Natura Viva.
The key attraction in Burn Out City's "Archipelago Igloos Experience" product idea is the special floating accommodation, providing the traveller with an opportunity to explore the Helsinki and Sipoo archipelagos from a new perspective. The product also has potential for luxury-seeking travellers, who are sure to welcome new types of accommodation experiences in Helsinki's maritime environment.
“Archipelago Igloos is not just accommodation but a unique eco-friendly nature experience within sight of Helsinki. The experience enables everyone to enjoy activities in connection with the accommodation – be it SUP boarding, grilling, rowing, sauna, kick boarding around the island, visiting the Biennale art exhibition or exploring the Helsinki archipelago with a guide,” explains Anders Jakas, Project Manager at Burn Out City.
Hawkhill's "Helsinki x Cottage Life" product combines an urban holiday with cottage life. The product successfully addresses both the distinguishing factors of the Helsinki Region and the principles of sustainable tourism. The cooperation between several different service providers also received positive feedback from the jury.
"We set out to design a product that would meet the competition criteria as well as possible and combine the Finnish urban, cottage and sauna culture. The product is well-suited even for small groups of travellers who want to experience maritime Helsinki and the peace and quiet of a Nuuksio forest pond in one trip. This product also makes a traditional cottage holiday easily accessible," says Co-Owner Annu Huotari from Hawkhill.
Helsinki Citycopter's product "Helsinki 360 ° Tour - Fly, Dine and Sail" offers travellers a great new way to experience the Helsinki archipelago from the air by helicopter. This product is also suitable for travellers who want luxury.
"Fly, Dine and Sail offers unique experiences for travellers. We wanted to create a product that would represent all the best characteristics of Helsinki. Pure nature, beautiful architecture and local delicacies. The experience is produced in cooperation with a Finnish food community and startup called Toptaste. For an international traveller, Fly, Dine and Sail is an opportunity to see and experience the local culture as much as possible in a very short time. This experience can also be booked even if you are just transferring via Helsinki-Vantaa airport, without spending a night in Helsinki. Stopover tours can be operated directly from Helsinki Airport's airside area," says Joonas Nurmi, Founder of Helsinki Citycopter.
Lahti Region's product "Let's get some fresh air! Sustainable urban nature holiday" really has sustainability at its core. The product nicely connects the capital city and Finnish Lakeland, introducing the traveller to the lesser-known gems of sustainable tourism. "This tour for individual travellers combines urban culture and nature experiences in an interesting way. The package also offers the possibility for flexible customization according to the customers' wishes," explains Anu Huusko, Head of Production & Sales, Lahti Region.
From the winning companies, Natura Viva, Hawkhill and Helsinki Citycopter have already received the Sustainable Travel Finland label, and the others are currently taking steps towards it. All the winning product ideas took sustainability into account in a good way and several products also made use of the excellent public transport connections in the Helsinki Region.