Sustainable Travel Finland to Support Sustainable Practices in Companies and Destinations
Visit Finland works to develop and market Finland’s travel image as well as help Finnish travel companies to internationalize, develop, sell and market high-quality travel products. Visit Finland has developed a Sustainable Travel Finland programme, through which the travel companies and regions in Finland can obtain a Sustainable Travel Finland label to support and market their green practices.
The idea of the Sustainable Travel Finland label is to provide companies and destinations with a concrete toolkit for sustainable travel, which facilitates the adoption of sustainable measures and choices in the everyday operations of a region or company. The criteria for a company to achieve the label includes implementation of various concrete actions of sustainable practices in its everyday operations. The STF programme ensures that tourism operation is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is sound from ecological, socio-cultural and financial perspectives. Companies and destinations awarded the STF label have access to a continuous development model, the latest information on the sustainable development of travel, marketing support, and additional visibility through Visit Finland’s channels.
Seven steps to sustainability
The STF label is free of charge for the entrepreneurs but the companies must go through a 7-step STF programme to get the label. STF has an online platform specifically built for the purpose. The platform is supported with an ‘e-guide’ e-learning environment, accessible only by those accepted to Sustainable Travel Finland programme. The 7 steps for the companies are:
Step 1. Commitment
Step 2. Increasing know-how
Step 3. Development plan
Step 4. Responsible communication
Step 5. Certification & Auditing
Step 6. Verification and Measurability
Step 7. Agreement & Continuous development
Companies must commit to the core principles of Sustainable Travel Finland and be taking transparent actions to mitigate the harmful impact they could have to the planet, people and communities.
Examples of awarded destinations
There are several hospitality companies already, which are proud to have gained the Sustainable Travel Finland label in different areas and regions of the country. Whereas, only two regions, Posio in the province of Lapland, and Kristinestad, an idyllic, small coastal town in the western part of Finland, can take pride in having gained a sustainable travel destination status certified by Visit Finland. Posio was the first destination ever to have been granted the label.
In Kristinestad (also called Kristiinankaupunki), more than half of the companies that serve international tourists have received the STF label, which is one of the criteria assigned to the programme’s tourism destination. There are seven criteria in total: the tourist region must commit to the national principles of sustainable tourism, support the growing competence in sustainable development for companies in the region, communicate the sustainable development activities in multiple channels, and prepare a development plan that can be updated.
The practical work within sustainablity in Kristinestad involves the following: water and energy conservation, waste sorting and reducement, promoting the local community and businesses, promoting nature tourism, outward communication – with honesty, and collaborating in various ways with others toward sustainability. Sustainable practices are systematically followed in all areas of everyday operations – from dumping of trash into heating systems, and not forgetting the social dimension of sustainability: Ukrainians, for example, have been employed in the town’s travel organisation.
Creating a new, sustainable normal for the tourism industry
The idea of STF programme is to provide companies and destinations with a sustainable development path; a concrete toolkit for sustainable tourism that makes it easier to adopt sustainable practices and choices in the everyday business. Companies and destinations that undergo the entire programme are recognised with the STF label and will have access to a continuous development model, the latest information on sustainable tourism development, and marketing support and visibility on Visit Finland channels. The goal is ambitious – to change the entire travel industry and create a new, sustainable normal.
The Sustainable Travel Finland programme aligns with internationally known sustainable tourism standards and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but it is built for regional and national development needs. The programme was developed in co-operation with Visit Finland, destinations and companies. Thus, the ambitious goal of steering the entire travel industry toward new, sustainable normal is based on active involvement of the travel industry actors in the development process. There are already several hospitality companies, which are proud to have gained the Sustainable Travel Finland label in different areas and regions of the country – and the number keeps growing.
Visit Finland. Sustainable Travel Finland: https://youtu.be/zCgCEbEiKzk
Visit Finland. Sustainable Finland. https://youtu.be/GwbxT94YLv0
Business Kristinestad. Sustainable travelling in Kristiinankaupunki: https://youtu.be/ChW_s5whu9M
Posio Lapland. Sustainability. https://posiolapland.com/sustainability/