The recipe for success is sufficient resources, close cooperation with the small town's entrepreneurs and a common desire to develop the sector.
In September 2022, Kristinestad (also called Kristiinankaupunki) became the second Finnish tourism destination to receive Visit Finland's Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) label, the first of which was awarded to Posio destination in 2020. More than half of the companies in Kristinestad that serve international tourists have received the STF label, which is one of the criteria assigned to the programme’s tourism area.
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, says Hanna Muoniovaara, Visit Finland’s regional partnership manager for the Coast and Archipelago region.
Janne Smeds, project leader and primus motor for sustainable tourism in Kristinestad, spends half of his time on promoting sustainable tourism.
‘Earmarking my time in this way has made it possible for me to personally see agents of local companies and help them with, for example, certification work. Sometimes I even help with translations to ensure genuinely bilingual services. To develop tourism, we also work closely with the tourism departments of Vaasa, Pietarsaari and Närpiö,’ says Smeds.