photo credit: Emilia Hoisko; Visit Finland

Destination Finland:Sustainability Showcase

Finland consistently ranks as one of the most sustainable places on the planet. This is no surprise given that the country is home to vast amounts of natural beauty and a community of leaders taking concrete actions dedicated to preserving its resources and landscapes.

Join us as we take an in-depth look into Destination Finland’s goals, strategies and successes that make it a leader in sustainable tourism development.

Curious how destinations in other parts of the world approach sustainability? Visit our leading sustainable destinations section for additional stories and good practice examples!

Why does Destination Finland focus on sustainability?

Climate change is a major challenge that affects our living conditions, culture, societies and humanity as a whole. In the Arctic region, the climate is warming at triple the speed compared to the rest of the world. Many of Finland’s travel products and services depend on weather conditions, making them highly vulnerable to climate change.  Protecting the country’s number one asset makes sense financially as well. Therefore tourism has to be developed as a responsible and growing service industry that generates welfare and creates jobs across Finland:

  • The Finnish government has a very ambitious goal: By 2035, Finland aims to be a sustainable, carbon-neutral country and the first fossil-free welfare state.
  • Visit Finland has a strategy in place to make sustainability the new travel industry norm and Finland one of the most sustainable travel destinations in the world. 
  • Finland’s updated tourism strategy identifies four priorities that will facilitate sustainable growth and renewal in the tourism sector, its first priority being supporting sustainable development.

How Finland approaches sustainability

  • Since the 1990s, the Finnish travel industry has worked persistently on sustainable travel. The country’s groundwork for sustainability is solid. In the past there have been an abundance of concrete projects and other practical entities to support the industry in sustainability. During the last few years there have been huge steps forward, which has also spurred widespread international interest since few other comprehensive national models exist currently.
  • Finland aims to become the most sustainably growing tourist destination in the Nordic countries.
    • Finland’s national strategy for 2019-2028: “Achieving more together – sustainable growth and renewal in Finnish tourism”.
    • In practice, these measures are implemented within the framework of Finland’s sustainable growth programme, which involves Visit Finland.
  • At the heart of Visit Finland’s work is the Sustainable Travel Finland programme (STF).  Although the STF programme is aligned with international sustainable tourism programmes and Sustainable Development Goals, it is tailored for regional and national needs. Further development is done in cooperation with the Finnish government, regions and companies as well. Visit Finland works tightly together with the whole industry and within the STF programme to arrange regular meetings, provide material, education and additional resources for stakeholders around the country. For a sparsely populated and vast country like Finland, open but coordinated cooperation is very important. The STF programme is more than just a programme and label, it is an actual toolkit for companies and destinations to adapt more sustainable actions in their everyday business.
  • Finland is a forerunner in measuring sustainable tourism. In early 2022, the country introduced national sustainable tourism indicators covering all dimensions of sustainability, which will help to harmonise measurement. The indicator system will be strengthened along the way as more data sources are added.
    • One of the tools related to measurement is a pilot version of the carbon footprint calculator for the Finnish travel industry. For now it is usable at the company level, but in the future the goal is to apply it to various development purposes, including destination calculations.
    • Measuring carbon footprint is also one of Finland’s top data points collected from companies, as leadership believes providing proper tools for company use will lower the threshold for concrete action.

Credits: Vastavalo/Teemu Tretjakov; Harri Tarvainen; Mika Viitanen; Visit Finland

Focus on cooperation

The Finnish approach to driving sustainability is concentrated on the need for widespread collaboration. With a variety of companies, organizations and individuals working to lead and innovate sustainable efforts, Finland strongly believes that cooperation across the entire industry, and country, is the key to success.