Visitors to national parks are happier than before – financial uncertainty is reflected in the total number of the visits
Finnish national parks were visited 3.55 million times last year. The most popular in terms of visits were Pallas–Yllästunturi, Urho Kekkonen, Nuuksio, Koli and Pyhä–Luosto national parks. The total number of visits to all national parks has stabilized from the peak caused by the pandemic, but the visitors are more satisfied with their visits to national parks.
During the coronavirus years of 2020–2021, the number of visits to Finnish national parks increased very rapidly around the country, as Finns en masse discovered the nature destinations in their own country. In 2022, the peak years’ visit numbers could not reached, and the total number of visits to national parks was 12 per cent lower than in 2021.
“2022 was the third consecutive exceptional year. The beginning of the year was active, especially in northern Finland’s national parks, but the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine changed the situation in the spring. Financial uncertainty and rising fuel prices affected consumer behaviour. Especially those national parks that are located at a distance from growth centres or far away in the archipelago had less visits than before. The end of the year was spurred on by active Christmas tourism in Lapland”, says Henrik Jansson, Executive Director, Parks & Wildlife Finland.
Compared to 2021, the number of visits increased in the Päijänne, Salamajärvi, Ekenäs Archipelago, Torronsuo, and Lauhanvuori national parks.
Visitor satisfaction at a record level
According to visitor surveys conducted in national parks, people appreciate their nature experiences and are very satisfied with the services provided by national parks and the hiking environment. On a scale of 1 to 5, customer satisfaction is 4.43, the best result ever.
"I am proud that our customer satisfaction is so high. In recent years, we have used additional funding to restore and develop the service structures of national parks. Based on customer feedback, we have done our work well", rejoices Jansson.
The number of visitors to national parks continues to grow in the long term
The number of visits to national parks has increased by 10 per cent when compared to 2019, i.e. what the situation was before the pandemic. This is in line with the long-term growth trend: The number of national park visits in Finland has increased from just under one million in 2000 (0.83 million) to 3.2 million visits in 2019. In addition to an increase in demand, the increase in the number of national parks also affects the number of visits.
The most popular in terms of visits were Pallas–Yllästunturi, Urho Kekkonen, Nuuksio, Koli and Pyhä–Luosto national parks. For more information on the popularity of the Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park, see the Manager of Recreational Amenities, Pekka Sulkava's blog post (linkedin.com, in Finnish).
Many welfare and financial benefits
National parks offer many benefits for companies providing services in neighbouring areas, for the well-being of visitors, and for public health. In 2022, the local economy impact of national park visitors' spending amounted to EUR 275 million and the impact on employment was 2166 person-years.
Research has shown that national parks play an important role in promoting well-being: Visitors estimated the health and well-being impacts they had experienced to be worth about EUR 100 per visit. Based on visitor surveys and calculations, it can be estimated that the total worth of health impacts experienced by all persons who visited Finnish national parks in 2022 is approximately EUR 355 million.
"Renovating the national parks’ routes and service structures has also increased the business opportunities for contractors and nature tourism companies. If we want to ensure that the societal impacts continue to grow and remain good also in the future, it is important to ensure our operations have sufficient resources”, Henrik Jansson says.
The Natural Heritage Services of Metsähallitus published its Government Programme objectives last week. Read more from Henrik Jansson’s blog (linkedin.com, in Finnish).
On 25 January 2023, Metsähallitus published the 2022 visitor numbers for national parks, hiking areas, historic sites and a number of other popular destinations covered by the monitoring.
- Finland has 41 national parks. All national parks are managed by Metsähallitus.
- The most recent national park is Salla National Park, which was established in 2022.
- Metsähallitus publishes annually the number of visits to national parks, hiking areas, wilderness areas, historic sites and other protected areas as well as customer service points.
- The number of visits is mainly monitored using electronic visitor counters, which provide information on visitors using different routes or off-road services.
- Every year Metsähallitus studies the local economic income and employment impacts of visitor spending at 63 different sites.
- In 2022, the most significant parks in terms of local economy were Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park (EUR 71.0 million), Urho Kekkonen National Park (EUR 44.7 million), Oulanka National Park (EUR 25.3 million), Koli National Park (EUR 24.3 million) and Pyhä–Luosto National Park (EUR 18.3 million).
- National parks are an important place for Finns to exercise. Most often people hike, ski, cycle, canoe or row when visiting. Information about people moving has been collected from 38 national parks. When the distance travelled is multiplied by the number of visits to the parks in question, in 2022 the visitors travelled a total of 39.4 million kilometres. This is about 982 times around the globe.
- Read more about the number of visits on the website https://www.metsa.fi/en/outdoors/visitor-monitoring-and-impacts/.
Self-guided Tours of Finland's Natural Attractions
National parks, national hiking areas and other protected areas provide the visitors with unforgettable moments, best sceneries and hiking and skiing facilities. Read more about the self-guided tours.