One of Lapland's Tourism Strategies is to develop high quality products of value to international summer tourists by combining the services of tourist resorts and villages located in the municipalities of Enontekiö, Kittilä, Kolari and Muonio and in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. The objective of the project was to direct an increasing percentage of overnight visitors to the services on offer in the villages around the elongated national park.
The Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park is one of Finland's oldest (75 years) and most popular since this part of Lapland has the freshest air in Europe and great viewpoints for Northern Lights. The park is also the home of Finland's first hiking trail (from 1934). Hence the fell / wilderness huts along its length are part of both Finnish cultural and natural heritage.
At present, most people stay in wilderness huts along the main hiking and skiing routes in the park itself. However, there is also plenty of comfortable lodging in villages along its length. Hence, an international service model of village-to-village and service-to-service hiking and trekking is being introduced with the aim of encouraging hiking with just a small backpack so as to be able to take advantage of the accommodation providers and attractions in the periphery of the park. So far, the opportunities available in Finland for European-style village-to-village hiking are few. Cooperation between local entrepreneurs and the national park also facilitates the marketing of the services and opportunities to the customer.
The Project is funded by the EU Social and Regional Development Fund, the Lapland Centre for Economic Development and the Environment and the Regional Council of Lapland. Funding is also provided by the municipalities involved (Enontekiö, Kittilä, Kolari and Muonio) as well as by the Forest and Park services and over one hundred entrepreneurs, for whom sustainable tourism development is a matter of the heart. Entity is the project goal. More information can be found at www.luontoon.fi
Going through the list of participating companies is a good way of finding information about the services provided in the greater region.
Partners benefit from the project because:
One of the target outcomes from the project was an improved network of routes and services, particularly those aimed at summer tourists. To this end, new high-quality signs were errected along many roads to facilitate knowledge about and access to, the national park and a recommended 'Fell Lapland Village-to-Village Journey.
Worn hiking trails and bridges were also improved between 2013 and 2015 with more wear-resistant materials (essentially gravel and crushed stones) and some of the old duckboards were replaced with an innovative new material made of 6m-long steel elements. The national park has nearly 40 miles of wooden boardwalks which, on average, are over 15 years old.
Hence, maintaining them is beyond normal means whereas the new material should last for 200 years. This is far preferable (even if it does not look as natural) to using the last of Finland's large pine trees to be trampled into the swamp.