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Satisfied visitors in The Kvarken archipelago

10/30/17

A visitor survey was conducted in the Kvarken Archipelago during summer 2017. Topics in the questionnaire varied from the world heritage to outdoor services in the area. The visitors, who answered, were chiefly very satisfied with the area, even if they also gave plenty of developing ideas.

Photo: Johan Hagström

Altogether nearly 500 questionnaire answers were gathered in different locations: Svedjehamn, Sommarö, Valsörarna main island, Rönnskär (Fäliskäret island), Mickelsörarna (Kummelskär island) and Molpehällorna. Svedjehamn and the Replot bridge were the most popular visitor attractions.

- A typical visitor was 45-64 years old, traveling with own family and lived somewhere nearby. Most of the visitors had been in the area before and some of them returned every year, says the world heritage coordinator Susanna Lindeman from Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland.

Almost half of those who answered lived permanently in Vaasa or Korsholm. The rest (41%) were domestic or international (14%) travelers. The international visitors came most often from Sweden. Other home countries were EU-countries, USA, Kanada and China.

Almost all (85%) of those who answered knew that Kvarken archipelago is included in the world heritage list, and as much as 71% believed to know the reason too. - The world heritage status was important when planning the trip for half of those who answered. However, one fourth of those who answered told that the status did not influence their travel plans, Lindeman points out.

Photo: Johan Hagström

Nature and landscape were the most important reasons to visit Kvarken archipelago and hiking and nature observation were the most popular activities. The visitors estimated that the visit improved their health, and that these effects were worth at least 100€. Most of the visitors stayed just a couple of hours, but those who did not live in the vicinity tended to stay overnight either in the world heritage site or in its vicinity.

It was estimated that outdoor activities in the world heritage result in 3,5 million euros and 36 man-years annually, based on questions of expenditure. According to this study, the visitors were more satisfied in their visit now, than in the last study seven years ago. The regional index for visitor contentment was 4,21, compared to 3,98 in 2009. Maximal grade is 5,0.

- This means good news, because municipalities and Metsähallitus have invested in improving the outdoor services in the world heritage area, says Lindeman. Visitors were most satisfied with cleanliness and safety, variability of landscapes, parking places, trails, signposts and fire places.

- Visitors gave also plenty of ideas considering further development of the service, and these suggestions encourage us to enhance the service even more, Lindeman adds.

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National Park Bringing New Feeling of Optimism to Hossa

by Fran Weaver, August 2017

Lenny Daly of the local firm Hossan Lumo feels that the new Hossa National Park provides ideal settings for the trendy outdoor activity of SUP-boarding. The Daly family's dog Vicky is also on board. Photo: Maija Daly, Hossan Lumo

The opening in June 2017 of Finland's 40th national park at Hossa, to mark the centenary of the Finland's independence, has been a great boost for local entrepreneurs offering services related to nature tourism and outdoor recreation. New jobs and income are very welcome in this part of Finland's north-eastern borderlands, between the towns of Kuusamo and Suomussalmi.

The clear waters and sandy shores of Hossa National Park are particularly popular among paddlers. Visitors can rent kayaks from local firms or join guided paddling tours to discover the park's highlights. Photo: Hannu Huttu / Metsähallitus

Local firms are already providing a wider range of services for increasing numbers of visitors with different interests. The small family firm Hossan Lumo, run by locally born Maija Daly and her Irish husband Lenny Daly, rents out equipment including fat tyre mountain bikes, kayaks and SUP-boards, while also offering cosy cabin accommodation and lovely lakeside locations for tents and caravans.

Lenny Daly feels that Hossa provides ideal settings for many popular outdoor pursuits. "Hossa's clear blue lakes are great for paddling, and Finland is now also catching on to the international boom in SUP-boarding," he says. "The trails along Hossa's sandy ridges are likewise ideal for mountain biking or hiking." 

Hossa Reindeer Park gives visitors to the nearby national park a chance to get up close to reindeer. Raili Karvonen brings tasty snacks out to some of the park's residents. Photo: Sini Salmirinne

Maija Daly believes that especially for foreign visitors, Hossa's new status as a national park makes it much more attractive than its previous designation as a hiking area. 

"There's a new feeling of optimism as interest in Hossa increases, and people are getting keen to branch out and start new businesses and activities."  

Joga instructor, wilderness guide Saija Taivalmäki is one of the new entrepeuneurs working in Hossa National Park. Photo: Raili Takolander

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