In December 2022 ca. 30 participants from cultural and tourism sectors met to talk about the potential of cultural tourism in Savonlinna and Lake Saimaa area.

Creative industries and cultural heritage can jointly provide engaging content for visitor economy and tourism. The importance of cultural tourism through unique selling points has already been acknowledged on national level in Finland, and Visit Finland is coordinating cultural tourism through the program “Culture Finland”. Nevertheless, its potential is still underutilized in many parts of the country. Local Flavours has helped to tackle this issue in Lake Saimaa area by providing inputs and new impetus for the utilization of cultural assets. New ideas are currently being promoted through several projects in Savonlinna and its surroundings.

For local and regional visitor economy especially in the rural areas, versatile combination of CCIs, cultural heritage and tourism in the form of new products would be of the essence: According to a study by Visit Finland cultural tourists spend even 40 % more money than other travelers on their visit, and their stay at the location is almost two days longer. Currently, nature is at the core of tourism strategy for Lake Saimaa area, but in the longer perspective, culture has been a significant driver for tourism, which cannot be overlooked.

Therefore, the co-operation between tourism sector and CCIs will be enforced in the upcoming years. To harness the underutilized potential of the area, significance, promotion, and development of cultural tourism products were discussed at the beginning of December 2022, when ca. 30 representatives of CCIs, museums, theaters, and events together with tourism entrepreneurs and business developers met in a workshop in Savonlinna.

The event was opened with a presentation about the joint culture tourism strategy of Lake Saimaa by Ms. Tuula Kokkonen, Business and Innovation Manager of South Savo Regional Council. News about Creative Saimaa cluster that is being built were also brought to the event by Senior Advisor Pellervo Kokkonen from Savonlinna Development Services, who also worked as the thematic expert in the Local Flavours project. Taina Laitinen from Arts Promotion Centre Finland opened perspectives concerning funding opportunities for the CCIs.

The event’s keynote speech was delivered by Maija Sydänmaanlakka representing Culture Finland. It is a national level cultural tourism promotion and coordination program crossing the gaps between tourism operators and cultural. In her inspiring speech, Ms. Sydänmaanlakka pointed out pros of cultural tourism and gave inspiration for possible topics that could be utilized in productization. In an adjoint workshop the participants could discuss new product ideas, marketing, and development suggestions for future work in the field.

More information about Culture Finland can be read in the Good Practice introduced by Savonlinna Development Services Ltd: Culture Finland | Interreg Europe - Sharing solutions for better policy