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Searching best-practices for sustainable tourism

Erasmus Plus projects tend to start with identifying the gaps in the target countries and giving best-practice examples from EU countries to inspire development. That is the case with our ENRICHER hubs project as well.


Annika Konttinen

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

Riina Iloranta

Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 07.06.2024

This spring 2024, we have been busy searching sustainable tourism examples from Finland for the ENRICHER hubs project. The idea is to find inspiring examples that can enhance sustainable tourism development in the target countries of the project, Moldova and Georgia.

Identifying gaps and challenges to sustainability

The universities in our target countries have been engaged in identifying gaps in terms of sustainable tourism. The EU partners of the project have looked for best practice examples from their home turf to show how to incorporate sustainability into the operations of tourism companies.

Findings will be shared in two reports, and they will form the foundations for the four trainings of university staff about the service development of sustainable tourism.
The trainings aim to advance the capabilities of the target country partners in sustainable tourism education as well as to enhance cooperation between tourism businesses towards sustainability practices.

There are challenges regarding sustainable tourism in the target countries. Based on the analysis of the tourism industry in Georgia and Moldova, most of the companies are small and tourism businesses are based on rural tourism, health and wellbeing, nature and adventure tourism, accommodation, and events. The reasons why companies in these countries may fail to deploy sustainable practices are based on a lack of knowledge of sustainable tourism as well as a short-term and profit-focused view on business.

This is where our project comes in: to increase knowledge and skills as well as the urgency of sustainable tourism.

Researching sustainability examples

Our task at Haaga-Helia is to identify best-practice cases in Finland in the field of sustainable tourism. Our colleagues in Austria and Italy are doing the same in their countries. Together we analyse and reflect the examples in line with UNTWO Sustainable development goals (SDGs) and write about the inspiring cases for benchmarking and learning in the target countries.

In Finland, we have looked at sustainable tourism cases and companies in different sectors within the industry, e.g., events, restaurants, nature and rural tourism. Our partners in Austria and Italy, will feature companies that focus on mountain, beach and wine tourism, which are also very relevant themes for the target countries.

We have tried to find companies that are similar in sector, size and set-up to the ones in the partner countries. That way it is easier for them to relate to the practices and possibilities of sustainable ways of doing business. Lucky for us, there are many companies to choose from in Finland!

We started our research among companies with the Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) label (Visit Finland). One of the best-practice examples we chose is Äksyt Ämmät, which offers nature tours in North Karelia. We will also feature the Flow festival as an example of sustainable events, a growing trend in the event industry. The third case from Finland is the zero-waste restaurant Nolla in Helsinki.

Putting the pieces together

Tourism sustainability thinking and practices are core substances at Haaga-Helia, and yet working with the project partners has shown us amazing sustainability practices in Europe.

An outstanding example comes from Vienna’s Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, where UN’s 17 SDGs and targets set a clear roadmap for sustainable practices in all daily endeavors. Sustainability is incorporated into work practices and processes. It is visible as physical evidence in room decorations, as 16 rooms and the breakfast hall are dedicated to each SDG. Boutiquehotel Stadthalle openly shares the story behind every goal and its implemention in their actions.

It is not easy to incorporate all the SDGs into daily operations. But there is always room for learning, and sustainability is continuous work.

The Erasmus+ funded ENRICHER hubs project aims to enhance the competences of sustainable tourism and service design methods in the target countries of Moldova and Georgia. Haaga-Helia is the project coordinator of the project.


UNWTO. n.d. Tourism in the 2030 Agenda. Accessed: 22 April 2024.

Visit Finland. n.d. Sustainable Travel Finland. Accessed: 22 April 2024.

Picture: Shutterstock