In spring, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland has updated the Roadmap for Growth and Renewal in Finnish Tourism. Comments on the updated roadmap draft — Finland’s new tourism strategy (in finnish)— can be submitted up to 31 May 2019. The tourism strategy is a tool that brings together tourism actors, for which reason wide consultation with the various stakeholders is desired during the update process.
In spring, during discussions on the updating it was asked whether tourism should be called an industry. While preparing the Sustainable Tourism SYKe programme (in finnish) for the Government talks, we noticed that in one of our drafts, we had used many tourism-related concepts indiscriminately: livelihood; business; business sector; service sector; sector; branch; industry; policy; phenomenon. A dear child has many names for use in accordance with the context.
On the strength of its size, tourism could be called an industry. The total demand for tourism is EUR 15 billion, and tourism has a direct GDP share of almost 3 per cent. The industry’s 28,500 enterprises employ over 140,000 people, or 5.5 per cent of the employed in Finland. The importance to employment is underlined by the fact that 30 per cent of the employed are under 26 years of age. Tourism is a regionally significant livelihood in Finland; as location-based work, jobs in the sector and development work done locally cannot be transferred elsewhere.
In 2017, tourism generated over 5 per cent of Finland’s export income. Tourism already accounts for over 17 per cent of the export income generated by services, which means that tourism was the third largest sector of service exports in 2017.
As a livelihood, however, it is incorrect to compare tourism directly with industry. The operating modes and the preconditions required for the activity are different. Tourism workers do demanding customer service work that requires solid know-how of practical skills and a strong capacity for empathy. Alongside competency in business and knowledge of the sector’s operating modes, management requires broad-mindedness, the abilities to renew, and the agility to respond to cyclical fluctuations caused by global geopolitical changes. It is also good to understand the impact of tourism on society economically, environmentally and socioculturally.
Tourism is a service sector with great potential and a growing export sector. In 2017, tourism generated over 5 per cent of Finland’s export income. Tourism already accounts for over 17 per cent of the export income generated by services, which means that tourism was the third largest sector of service exports in 2017. In terms of euros, tourism exports amounted to EUR 4.6 billion and increased by 27 per cent from 2016. The growth of tourism exports was clearly faster than that of other services exports, as without tourism exports, service exports grew by about 6 per cent.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment is responsible for coordinating Finland’s tourism policy. The task emphasises development of the operating conditions of tourism enterprises, promotion of employment in tourism and, through tourism, facilitating regional prosperity. The core task of coordination, however, is cooperation, which is already noted in the name of the tourism strategy, ‘Achieving more together’.
From the perspective of the sustainable growth and renewal of Finland’s tourism, cooperation between the entire tourism sector is pivotal. Tourism enterprises need networks, development and training organisations, and authorities to support them. The whole sector is also needed when the impact of tourism on society is being considered. Together we can also talk more forcefully about the importance of service sectors in promoting the prosperity of Finnish society and the importance of tourism as part of the development and export of services.
Sanna Kyyrä, Chief Specialist