Photo: Minna Sipponen

Development work begins – Via Karelia into an attractive and responsible food tourism destination


Two projects to strengthen food tourism on the Via Karelia tourism route running along the eastern border were launched in September with the aim of making it an even more well-known, attractive and responsible tourism route by developing the service and responsibility expertise of companies and actors in the target area.

Food producers operating in sparsely populated areas along Via Karelia or nearby, experts in the natural product sector, tourism companies and other companies and actors interested in developing tourism products or services based on responsible food and sustainable use of nature are invited to participate in the projects.

The aim is to develop a permanent operating model from the network-like and cross-sector cooperation between companies operating around the Via Karelia route. Food tourism networks connected to Via Karelia will be strengthened through regionally organised local food get-togethers, joint development efforts and getting to know good practices in study excursions, for example. Participants will also learn more about the importance of Via Karelia and other tourism routes, as well as opportunities for companies.

The measures of the projects will be adapted based on needs to meet the wishes of the participants. The development activities to be launched now will include training in responsible food tourism as well as regional workshops for companies and developers in Kainuu, Koillismaa and Eastern Lapland.

– In Salla, local food is an important part of tourism and there is a desire in the area to develop its availability further. The development of the Via Karelia tourism route makes it possible to highlight the food culture of Eastern Lapland, says Paula Aspholm, tourism manager, Salla.

Food tourism connected with the Via Karelia route will also be developed in terms of business and services. The projects will arrange a related webinar, highlight inspiring case examples, work on new food tourism services and products in service design workshops and provide expert coaching related to business and product development. The most potential tourism products utilising the network will also be tested and further developed in practice.

Development work has already been completed on the southern parts of Via Karelia and will now be continued in the north as well. Joint development work is made possible by two projects that have already been launched: Responsible development of food tourism through service design along Via Karelia (Lapland University of Applied Sciences and the University of Lapland) and Via Karelia – Responsible food tourism through networking (ProAgria Eastern Finland / Rural Women’s Advisory Organization for Eastern Finland and Northeast-Finland development company Naturpolis Oy). Exceptionally close cooperation is being piloted between the projects in order to achieve common goals and broader effectiveness.

– In all the work packages of the two projects, we operate together across regional and industry boundaries in order to make the special expertise and local knowledge of each background organisation best serve the needs of the participating companies and Via Karelia, says the members of Project group, Rural Women’s Advisory Organization for Eastern Finland, Naturpolis, Lapland University of Applied Sciences and the University of Lapland

The projects have a duration of one year and will end in September 2023. Funding for the projects has been granted from the nationwide Tourism project call for sparsely populated areas implemented by the Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.

Further information:

José-Carlos García-Rosell, Associate Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility in Tourism, Senior Lecturer of Responsible Tourism Business
University of Lapland, Multidimensional Tourism Institute (MTI)
+358 40 484 4190

Anna Rinteinen, Project Manager
Via Karelia – Responsible food tourism through networking
tel. +358 43 827 3703

Mirva Tapaninen, Project Manager
Responsible development of food tourism through service design along Via Karelia
tel. +358 40 527 6270

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