In 2019-20 we were asked to take part in a pilot program in the development of Finland's Sustainable Tourism Label. In the Spring of 2022, we found a window of time in which were able to complete the process and also work through 'Green Activities' certification.
Green Activities is a sustainability program and certificate for outdoor activity program operators. It is the only sustainability certificate in the Nordic countries that includes criteria for ensuring animal welfare in tourism.
A Green Activities certified company must commit to increasing the environmental awareness of its customers and staff as well as reducing the environmental impact of its activities. The assessment for certification is carried out against 6 key criteria.
Certified companies must be able to show adherence to the 'imperative' criteria in each category and an increasing adherence, annually, to the 'guideline' criteria.
(At the point of application for initial certification, we already met 56 of the optimal guidelines criteria.)
Sustainable Tourism Finland
The 10 principles of STF are built around cooperation, environmental sustainability, cultural sustainability, social sustainability, perseverance and locality, quality and safety, climate change, responsibility communication, financial stability and a commitment towards sustainability.
1. Fair Cooperation
We develop tourism in cooperation with other players in our region and industry. Together, we can make a better impact on the future of society and tourism. We want our area to be good to live in and visit now and in the future, so we make decisions that are sustainable for future generations as well. We treat everyone with respect and fairness, and we only trade fairly and honestly.
See our page on driving regional sustainability
2. Taking Care of Nature
We protect the environment, landscapes and biodiversity of our area. Our operations do not exceed the carrying capacity of nature, but contribute to ensuring the opportunities for a good life and the preservation of a clean operating environment in our area. We also take care of the welfare and dignified treatment of our animals.
3. Respect for Cultural Heritage
We cherish the cultural heritage of our region. Our goal is the genuine and respectful presentation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of culture. We also understand that cultures have always evolved in interaction and learned from each other.
We talk about this in our page about cultural integrity.
4. Promotion of prosperity, human rights and equality
We treat our employees, guests and residents of our area equally and with respect, regardless of their background. We take people's special needs into account in our operations. We train, guide and encourage our staff to act responsibly.
One of the pages in which we talk about this is our page about accessibility for all.
5. We prefer local
We support the products, services and businesses in our area and aim to employ local people. We prefer food made from Finnish ingredients. We involve residents and businesses in matters that concern them.
6. Investment in Safety and Quality
We take care of the safety of local residents, our staff and guests, and comply with the law and regulations. When we develop the quality of our services and products above, we create the conditions for the continuity of our own operations.
Safety and quality are cornerstones of our work - as described in our page about safety.
7. We consider the climate impact
We make good choices for the climate and reduce our carbon footprint. We monitor the impact of tourism on the environment and, through active measurement, aim for more efficient use of energy and resources.
As well as trying to do independent assessments of our carbon footprint, we were part of a large EU project trying to baseline footprints for a number of northern companies between 2019 and 2021.
The TOBE Low Carbon Project was designed to calculate and reduce the carbon footprint of Pallas Yllästunturi National Park together with local partner companies who would together apply for ISO certification to reduce their carbon footprint. Parks & Wildlife Finland were involved in the project alongside CAPE Lapland Oy, Harriniva Oy, Hiihtokeskus Iso Kauppa Oy, Oy Levi Ski Resort Ltd and Safartica Oy. The project was designed to create long-term plans to reduce the carbon footprint with the goal of making the PallasYllästunturi National Park and its surroundings a more environmentally friendly travel destination. The European Regional Development Fund committed some matched financing towards the project through Jobs 2014-2020 Finnish Structural Fund.
Unfortunately, most of the communication and outcomes of the project were in Finnish so the project wasn't as useful as we had hoped but we will relook at the data and findings and try to do something with them in the near future.
8. Open Communication
We boldly communicate in our area about responsible tourism and future plans and visions. We want Finland's sustainable tourism to be known in the world. We talk openly about success, but also about challenges.
9. We are constantly developing our business
We are ready to renew our services and products so that there will be sufficient demand for them in the future as well. A stable economy and ethical business create the basis for the sustainable development of operations.
We struggled, as did many companies, through Covid. We tried operating in both Helsinki and Kilpisjärvi in order to expand access to an available market since the international tourism market was closed to us.
10. We are committed to the principles of sustainable tourism
We will take an active role in promoting sustainable tourism and implementing these principles of sustainable tourism. We will draw up an action plan for sustainable tourism, according to which we will operate more systematically in the future. We are committed to action and want to learn more in the future.
We are constantly updating processes and methods of operation in order to enhance the welfare of the animals and the sustainability, ecologically and financially, of the business.
SUSTAINABLE FINLAND PLEDGE - THE COMMITMENT OF A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER
In 2019, Visit Finland announced the commitment of a responsible traveler at Visit Finland's annual seminar in Tampere. This is aimed at tourists heading to and residing in Finland and is part of the communication plan for the Arctic Sustainable Tourism Study project.
Finland's tourism industry is about the same size as its agriculture, forestry and fishing combined, and one and a half times larger than its food industry. Its rapid growth in recent years has come at the same time as a growing awareness of climate challenge and a need for extended stays and year-round solutions in order to ensure sustainable growth.
A balance between tourists (whose numbers are often vastly larger than the number of locals), the environment and the locals is important if tourism is to continue to be seen as an economic activity that strengthens local culture and creates jobs. At the same time, that balance guarantees tourists a hospitable, high-quality and authentic destination experience.
Discussions about increased tourist flows have taken place with regional tourism organizations, Metsähallitus and the Sámi Parliament, among others. The material gathered from the discussions eventually gave rise to a list of topics we want to communicate to tourists; topics that tourists should pay attention to when traveling in Finland. The list became a petition to which tourists are now invited to commit; the Sustainable Finland Pledge.
A COMMON MESSAGE ON THE MATTER
The commitment was recently on display at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, where Visit Finland, together with the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, reminded tourists arriving in Finland about the purity of drinking water and at the same time encouraged them to sign the commitment. This joint Nordic 'Rent vatten från Kranen - Turn the tap on' campaign, which runs until the end of the year, disseminates information on the purity and availability of Nordic tap water to tourists and locals, and aims to reduce the use of disposable plastics. In the future, it will be easier to make responsible choices about the eligibility of tourists when Visit Finland launches the Sustainable Travel Finland brand, which will enable it to communicate about sustainable tourism companies and regions.
Tourists have begun to make value-based choices, and Visit Finland believes that in addition to tourists already in Finland, the petition also addresses tourists who are looking for destinations where locals and the environment are taken into account when developing tourism. But no one can take the message forward alone, and Visit Finland welcomes all Finns to share the commitment by signing the commitment and sharing the message on social media. The commitment to be returned as a return return of the signature can also be printed and displayed in places that are aimed at tourists.
FINLAND'S Commitment to Sustainable Development 2050
Finland has developed a number of 2050 objectives linked to its vision for its society in 2050. The Commitment is a Finnish model for implementing sustainable development.