Siirry sisältöön
Starting off with the star of sustainability in Finland

The Erasmus Plus ENRICHER hubs project, which focuses on sustainable tourism, gathered participants from partner universities in Helsinki. Together we explored Suomenlinna sea fortress, a very close cooperation partner of Haaga-Helia UAS as well as one of the forerunners of sustainable tourism in Finland.


Annika Konttinen

lehtori, matkailuliiketoiminta
Senior Lecturer, tourism business
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Nora Lappalainen

project manager
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 15.04.2024

Suomenlinna has been a long-time partner of Haaga-Helia UAS and an important commissioner of projects for many years already. Our students have developed the sustainability programmes and organised events like the ancient harvest season celebration Kekri on the islands. The collaboration has been mutually beneficial, all partners gaining a lot of valuable experience throughout the years.

There could not be a better place to start the ENRICHER hubs project journey towards sustainable tourism than Suomenlinna, which strives to take sustainability seriously, always considering cultural, social, environmental, and economic sustainability in all its actions and operations.

Suomenlinna is a major tourist attraction just off the coast of Helsinki

Suomenlinna’s status as a World Heritage site comes with a responsibility to take care of its authenticity for further generations. The maintenance and restoration of the islands is undertaken by the Governing Body of Suomenlinna, a government agency operating under the Ministry of Education and Culture. They have many duties as the islands are such a popular tourist destination and sustainability work is a continuous process.

Annually, around one million visitors come to enjoy these unique islands. A clear majority (65 %) of the visitors come from abroad. The big growth in the visitor number was a challenge to Suomenlinna, especially before the pandemic. Now the islands are combating the seasonality of tourism by marketing themselves as a year-round destination.

The fortress islands have strong pull factors like easy access, interesting attractions, and many amenities, several of them open throughout the year. The islands have culture and history, stories, and maritime views as well as museums and restaurants. Suomenlinna is also home to 800 residents and offers over 400 jobs and 30 tourism service providers.

The islands, a compact day trip destination, was easy for our partners to relate to and benchmark with similar ones in their own countries.

Sustainability in action

Suomenlinna has agreed to follow a list of principles of sustainable tourism, which includes recommendations and guidelines for all partners to follow. Besides that, Suomenlinna has a comprehensive sustainable tourism strategy, which guides all its conservation efforts and aims to showcase the islands as a model of sustainable tourism.

Tourism Specialist Milla Öystilä from the Governing Body of Suomenlinna gave us an insightful presentation about the various sustainability efforts undertaken in Suomenlinna. The island destination has been a forerunner in sustainability for many years. In 2020, it was awarded the Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) label for its work towards sustainable tourism.

One of the most memorable things that our ENRICHER hubs project partners experienced during their visit to the islands, was the unique community spirit of Suomenlinna. Entrepreneurs, residents, and city employees work for the sustainability of the islands together. Tourism service providers frequently gather to share ideas and work for a better quality of life and visitor experience on the islands. Sustainability in Suomenlinna is all about the balance between the different functions of the islands: tourism destination, residential area and place of employment.

Inspiring best practices for sustainability in tourism

Our ENRICHER hubs project aims to increase cooperation between the industry and the universities in the target countries Georgia and Moldova. During the spring, we will gather more insights and further examples of sustainable tourism companies in Finland. These will be included in a best-practice report for the project with the aim to inspire our project partners.

We believe that our project partners from Moldova, Georgia, Austria, and Italy learnt a lot from the visit to Suomenlinna. With a sustainable foundation, tourism destinations can make it through the low season, preserve local traditions and offer memorable moments to visitors in any month of the year. A foggy day in February through the chunks of ice in the Baltic Sea was an Arctic experience our guests are unlikely to forget.

Erasmus+ (Capacity Building in Higher Education) project, ENRICHER hubs had its kick-off in Helsinki in the end of February 2024. Partners from nine universities in the target countries of Moldova and Georgia as well as EU partners Italy, Austria and Finland gathered in the city to meet face-to-face and get to know each other as well as the aims and work packages of the project. One of the main aims of the project is to enhance the competences of sustainable tourism and service design methods in the target countries.

Picture: Shutterstock