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Release 29.10.2019

Lakeland takes top prize for Finnish wellbeing travel

Julia Kivelä

A diverse, competent group of operators from three different regions took the top spot in the Wellbeing EDEN in Finland 2019 competition. The network, Western Lakeland – Sustainable Blue and Green Caring at the Heart of Lakeland, convinced the jury with their consolidated efforts.

Honourable mentions were given to Step into Naantali Archipelago and Slow Down your Pulse, Wellbeing Karelia and Sauna Tour Kuusamo-Lapland.Jari Gustafsson, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, presented the awards in a seminar organised by the Ministry and Visit Finland in Helsinki on 29 November. The candidates were reviewed by a jury of wellbeing and travel experts.

The national competition saw entries from 17 wellbeing travel networks from various parts of Finland. The candidates included networks from Northern Lapland, the heartlands of Eastern Finland, the archipelagos of Southern Finland as well as regions in Pirkanmaa and Ostrobothnia. The selection was limited to networks of at least four organisations that provide travel and wellbeing services and experiences based on Finland’s unique strengths and the tenets of sustainable growth.

“The global surge in demand for wellbeing services allows us to attract new demographics to Finland throughout the year. Finland’s prominence in the EDEN network also supports our goal of increasing the number of overnight stays by visitors as well as our travel export efforts”, says Permanent Secretary Jari Gustafsson.

“The importance of sustainable and responsible travel is a constantly expanding topic. Social and cultural as well as ecological sustainability have been the cornerstones of the European EDEN network for more than a decade. Now these factors are starting to sway traveller choices more and more. In fact, many of the companies awarded today have been local pioneers in promoting sustainable travel. We are doing our part by piloting the Sustainable Travel Finland program – among other things”, explains Paavo Virkkunen, head of Visit Finland.

Wellbeing EDEN in Finland was organised by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and Business Finland’s Visit Finland unit. The national effort was part of the European Commission’s annual European Destinations of Excellence competition, which dates back to 2007. Finland has previously entered the competition three times: in 2008 for intangible cultural heritage in travel, in 2010 with a waterway-themed entry and in 2017, which was the year for upcoming cultural destinations.

The winners from the national events will be awarded in Brussels next spring. The EDEN competition is all about bolstering co-operation. On top of exposure, the winning destinations will receive a spot in the EDEN network, a channel for marketing and networking.

The jury’s comments:

Western Lakeland Wellbeing – Sustainable Blue and Green Caring at the Heart of Lakeland

Western Lakeland Wellbeing is a professionally managed network of high-calibre destinations in three different regions: Päijänne Tavastia, Pirkanmaa and Central Finland. The network’s innovative wellbeing services have been built around water and nature, which are quintessential Finnish elements. Both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, such as sauna, traditional remedies and treatments and local food traditions are integral to their services. The local companies and regional organisations have set a strategic goal to develop and provide wellbeing services. Their bold and brave attitude towards cross-regional co-operation is praiseworthy.

Comments on honourable mentions:

Step into Naantali Archipelago and slow down your pulse – From experience culture to living culture

For centuries, people have been travelling to Naantali for wellbeing services. Today, Naantali is a diverse destination with an emphasis on year-round operations. The Archipelago and sea, Moomins and wellbeing have been identified as the region’s biggest attractions. Finnish traditions are also utilised commendably in their local travel products. Wellbeing has been named a key theme in developing tourism in the region, and this includes the arts, music and culture as well. The upcoming investment plans for developing the region’s travel and wellbeing services are a positive signal in an increasingly competitive market.

Wellbeing Karelia

The Wellbeing Karelia network draws on Karelian heritage and traditions to provide unique services for travel, culture and wellbeing. Finnish customs, forests and lakes also add a robust layer to their wellbeing products, which are sourced creatively from nature, its stillness and culture as well as the unhurried way of life the region is known for. Nonetheless, consistent and systematic effort has been devoted to product development, not forgetting soundscapes, art and music in addition to purely physical wellbeing. The network’s business-driven approach and their active, confidently grounded efforts and product development have resulted in a finely tuned concept.

Sauna Tour Kuusamo-Lapland

This network from Ruka and the greater Kuusamo tourism region is a pioneer in Finnish wellbeing travel. It has been active for years and now prepares to take on larger volumes and year-round operations. Their services are rooted in Finnish culture and the benefits of sauna – something the network has been promoting tirelessly. All of the included services are meticulously planned, scripted and executed. For their customers, this means a fantastic experience with a sense of community.


Photos of the winners.

Liisa Renfors, Development Specialist. Visit Finland | Business Finland
liisa.renfors (at), +358 50 597 0608

Sanna Kyyrä, Chief Specialist. TEM (chair of the jury)
sanna.kyyra (at), +358 50 358 9497

Heli Hemgård, Communications Manager. Visit Finland | Business Finland
heli.hemgard (at), +358 40 901 5219

Visit Finland is a national authority on tourism and an active force in promoting international travel to Finland. Visit Finland supports the travel industry and helps businesses and groups develop products and services for the international market. Visit Finland is part of Business Finland /

Business Finland is a Finnish public entity that provides innovation funding and export services and promotes travel and investment in Finland. Business Finland employs 600 experts in 40 offices globally and in 16 regional offices around Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network.