As the first Finnish travel destination, Posio has received the Sustainable Travel Finland label granted by Visit Finland. Launched last year, the first Sustainable Travel Finland labels for companies were issued already in June, but this is the first time that an entire travel destination has received the recognition.
More than half of the travel companies based in Posio offering services to international visitors have been granted the Sustainable Travel Finland label, which is one of the criteria set for a travel destination. There are altogether seven requirements that a region must meet: for example, it must commit to the national principles of sustainable travel, support the development of expertise in sustainability within local companies, provide multi-channel communications on sustainable operations, prepare a development plan that is updated regularly and perform an current state analysis of sustainability within the region’s travel industry operations.
- While international sustainable development programmes were paid close attention to in the preparation of the criteria, they were tailored to Finnish travel businesses. The goal of the criteria is to ensure that various aspects of ecological, sociocultural and financial sustainability and the balance between them are taken into account, while enabling local companies to meet the demand for sustainable travel services. Studies show that travel service customers are, in ever-increasing numbers, demanding sustainable services in which the environmental burden has been minimised and benefits to the local culture and economy have been maximised, explains Liisa Kokkarinen, sustainable travel manager at Visit Finland, which is part of the Business Finland network.
Located between Kuusamo and Rovaniemi in Lapland, Posio, with a population of more than 3,000 residents, is best-known for Riisitunturi National Park and the interior design company Pentik. Compared with Lapland’s largest better-known destinations, Posio is a relatively unknown travel destination — a situation that the region is quite happy with. Instead of vast numbers of tourists, it wants to attract travellers who are looking for authentic experiences. Both public and private sector operators in the area are committed to the development of sustainable travel.
Local travel companies have actively nurtured sustainability in their operations for years. For example, more than 90% of the staff of the region’s largest accommodation provider Holiday Village Himmerki are local residents who work at the centre all year round. All the activities of Kota-Husky and Ylitalo Reindeer Farm are arranged on the terms of the animals.
- For them, each husky and reindeer is a family member. As a result of the Sustainable Travel Finland programme, other sustainability measures, such as saving energy and water and increasing the use of local food, have become part of the companies’ day-to-day operations, says Marja Hannula, Posio municipality Travel Coordinator and Managing Director of Posio Travel.
- Because the development of sustainable travel operations requires investments, the municipality must also make a commitment to it. Hannula adds: Commitment to the Sustainable Travel Finland programme and the achievement of the sustainable travel destination label were only possible because local companies and the municipality were prepared to make some bold decisions.
This commitment is also attested to by Posio’s inclusion on the global 2020 Sustainable Destinations Top 100 list. Travel destinations that are taking determined steps towards sustainability competed for a place on the list.
The following companies based in Posio have already been granted the Sustainable Travel Finland label: Wilderness Hotel Kirikeskus, Oiva Tour, Ylitalo Reindeer Farm, Kota-Husky, Posio Outdoors, Naali Lodge, Adventure Apes, Restaurant Tapio, Holiday Village Himmerki and the Pentik-mäki Cultural Centre.
- The Sustainable Travel Finland programme introduced a more goal-oriented approach to our operations and provided us with a wealth of new information. Animal welfare has always formed the basis of our activities and we do not use snowmobiles on our safaris, explains Lauri Sassali, the owner of Kota-Husky and the chair of Posio Travel.
- He adds: Investing in sustainable travel has also increased collaboration between businesses, which is great. Posio offers interlinked travel services ranging from accommodation to husky safaris and fishing trips that are based on sustainability. The sustainable travel label granted by Visit Finland is a great milestone.
Further information for the media:
Liisa Kokkarinen, Manager, Regional Partnerships. Visit Finland | Business Finland
liisa.kokkarinen (at) businessfinland.fi 050 505 1723
Marja Hannula, Travel Coordinator and Managing Director of Posio Travel
marja.hannula (at) posio.fi 040 8012 229
Heli Hemgård, Communications Manager. Visit Finland | Business Finland
heli.hemgard (at) businessfinland.fi 040 901 5219
As a national travel industry expert and an active operator in the field, Visit Finland is responsible for promoting international travel to Finland. Visit Finland supports travel industry companies and groups in the development and marketing of travel services targeted at the international market. Visit Finland is part of Business Finland www.visitfinland.fi / www.visitfinland.com
Business Finland is a Finnish public-sector operator which offers innovation funding and internationalisation services and promotes tourism and investments in Finland. The organisation employs 750 specialists in about 40 global locations and 16 offices in Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network. www.businessfinland.fi