Do you know how Rovaniemi in Finland is adopting sustainable ways to mitigate the effects of climate change as the world gets ready to cater to the changing demands of tourism in the new normal world?
No, the pandemic did not spare the hometown of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, in the heart of Lapland.
But there is no reason why you should not use this restricted travel phase to plan for a trip in the future, especially since local businesses are keen to promote tourism in the most sustainable and responsible way.
Rovaniemi, part of Finnish Lapland, is situated right on the Arctic Circle. It is also the place to enjoy the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis, the mysterious lights on glittering snowdrifts or catch the Midnight Sun – also known as the night less night or polar day. There are lots of things to see and do in this city located in northern Finland.
While Finland is keen to restart tourism when things turn for the better, it is also concerned that the tourism industry is equipped to handle the changing demand in the new normal phase in a most sustainable manner.
Because the pandemic is not the only threat to bring the world to its knees, climate change too has reached a super crisis level.
And Rovaniemi’s location makes it doubly vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change, which has made local businesses keen to join Visit Finland’s Sustainable Travel programme.
The toolkit has been designed to provide destinations and businesses with a sustainable development path, offering a range of practices and choices in their everyday business.
Businesses and destinations which undergo the entire programme are awarded the Sustainable Travel Finland label and can be easily identified by travellers as responsible places and outfits who can guide travellers about environment-friendly travel.
The Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in Rovaniemi is the first of the six Sustainable Travel Finland labels awarded to Lappish companies (as of August 3, 2020) by Visit Finland.
Here are some of the local companies who have been adopting sustainable practices --
Arctic TreeHouse Hotel was awarded the Green Key eco-label as the first private hotel in Finnish Lapland. All the buildings are made from sustainable renewable Finnish wood and they use only green energy. Each year, the staff plant 5 000–10 000 new seedlings to the surrounding forests. They also focus on the carbon footprint by measuring and improving the sustainable energy and water saving solutions, along with effective waste sorting and reduction in waste production. Restaurant menus change according to season, and the goal is to have 65 percent of the main ingredients locally produced.
Santa’s Hotels in 2019, began the process for ISO:14001 environmental certificate, to cover all their properties. The long term goal of the group’s environmental work is to reduce energy and water consumption, reduce the amount of waste, increase the sustainability of purchases and improve the management of environmental and sustainability issues as a whole.
They guide and train staff regularly and participate in several environmental projects, for example in the energy efficiency agreement of the Finnish Hotel and Restaurant Association.
District Rovaniemi is a responsible company offering boutique glamping experiences in Finnish Lapland.
Ollero Eco Lodge uses only renewable energy, and more than 80 per cent of waste is recycled, and towels and bed linen are sourced from a local laundry company that washes textiles eco-efficiently. Products (from shampoos to cutlery) are ecological and fair-trade products.
Arctic Snow Hotel & Glass Igloos uses materials for constructing Snow Hotel, which are sourced from the local surroundings. The ice used in structures comes from the adjacent Lake Lehtojärvi.
Santa Claus Holiday Village has been run as a family enterprise since 1994. Sustainability is part of the company’s main values, and they’re also part of the Green Start program. The holiday village has also bought five electric vans for the cleaners to move between the holiday villages.
Wilderness Hotels Nellim is a family run travel company located in Inari Municipality in Finnish Lapland. The family values authenticity and that is why you’ll find a lot of natural building materials, art made by the local craftsmen.
According to Rovaniemi’s official website, this is the first place where snowmobiles for safaris are run on electricity. Aurora Emotion is an engineering company that has created electric snowmobiles, eSleds, and the first electric snowmobile safari’s in the world are run by eSleds in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland. The electric snowmobiles do not use gasoline at all and the company only uses green energy coming from their special electric charging points.
The company is doing continuous development work with electric snowmobiles and is also developing a network of electric charging points in the Lapland area. During safaris plastic bags, disposable plates or cutlery are banned. Only local food is served and the company operates closely with local, small entrepreneurs.
In Bearhill Husky, the sled dogs work or practise through the year. Keeping the kennel running year-round is one example of the actions that Valentinj Beets and his wife Veronica Butinova have made to run the kennel sustainably. All of the buildings are made from renewable Finnish wood and the kennel works with green energy. Recycling and avoiding disposable products is also part of their values. Kennel uses only diesel cars with adblue-system as well as eco-friendly modern snowmobiles.
Beyond Arctic tours and expeditions are based on the values of sustainable travelling. They remove and recycle all litter produced during trips. All the wood they use is produced by them and impact to the nature is minimized. The company doesn’t use any petrol-operated snowmobiles and they have modern vehicles to ensure the latest technology is used to reduce pollution.
Lapland Safaris uses vehicles with four-stroke engines with the market’s lowest levels of emissions. They also use the most environmentally friendly fuels and lubricants available. The company has undertaken to offset all carbon dioxide emissions from snowmobile safaris from 1 December 2019 onwards.
They will offset their emissions by funding carbon sinks in collaboration with their partner Nordic Offset Oy. The funds will be targeted at Gold Standard -certified projects supported by WWF. Lapland Safaris uses green electricity on all their premises, and their safaris always run along official trails.
Husky & Yoga Nature offer only local, organic products and use green energy. Room temperature is kept on +18C, and the house is mainly heated with wood. Arctic Joy encourages customers to explore nature on foot or use snowshoes or SUP-boards.
Arctic Joy recycles and uses only eco-friendly products in their operations.
Happy Fox uses geothermal heating as a source of energy, recycles as well as uses only local and natural ingredients for meals. Activities and tours are based on exploring nature without motor vehicles.
Arctic Lifestyle creates experiences that are based on either the lifestyle they lead or the unique highlights of Lapland. Their equipment (snowmobiles and jet skis) are as eco-friendly as possible and locally produced locally in Rovaniemi.
Orbas Oy is a local reindeer herder family in Rovaniemi. Living out of nature naturally requires a sustainable lifestyle, which you get to experience closely by visiting the family.
Nordic Adventures is constantly developing and making use of innovative solutions that are mindful of the environment.