The Popularity of National Parks Is Increasing, Bringing Enhanced Economic Benefits

The amount of money invested by the Finnish State in national parks and hiking areas is returned to society many times over in the form of local business and jobs. Visits to national parks alone exceeded 2.8 million in 2016. The impacts of the parks on people’s health and well-being and the local economy have increased year after year. This growth can be attributed to strong partnerships with tourism businesses, municipalities and regions, as well as the successful targeting of services.

In the case of all 39 national parks, the local impact of visitor expenditure on total income and employment amounted to EUR 178.9 million and 1,774 person-years of work. For the six hiking areas maintained by the State, the respective figures were EUR 13.3 million and 142 person-years of work.

The tourist areas where visitors tend to stay for longer and which have a greater selection of tourism services generate most money for the local economies. The key parks in terms of local economic impact were the Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park (EUR 60.0 million), Urho Kekkonen National Park (EUR 21.7 million), Koli National Park (EUR 19.1 million), Oulanka National Park (EUR 18.9 million) and Pyhä-Luosto National Park (EUR 13.7 million).

For the first time, a so-called well-being index was calculated for the destinations. 23 attractions were included in the calculation for 2013–2016. Visitors rated the health and wellbeing benefits they experienced during their visit; the ratings averaged at 4.25 on a scale of 1–5. 82 per cent of visitors felt that their visit had fair or very significant health and well-being benefits, and estimated them to be worth approximately EUR 100.

The financial input of hunters and fishermen into local economies was also considerable. The total revenue and employment impacts generated by visitors in wilderness activities amounted to more than EUR 40 million and 249 person-years of work last year. Each hunting or fishing licence sold benefits the region by an average of EUR 233. In addition to the amount of money injected into the local economy, the total impact also extends to money spent during the journey to wilderness destinations. The benefits to regional economies are highest in Eastern and Northern Finland.

* EUR 100 is the median or middle value. The average spend recorded by the above-mentioned surveys was EUR 322.

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Photo: Timo Reinvuo