Joint project in Ylläs to develop cycling tourism turned out to be helpful for companies to adjust to changing demand caused by covid-pandemic.
In the last ten years year round tourism has become a development priority in Finnish Lapland, where tourism is very much concentrated on winter season. At the same time cycling and cycling tourism has been a growing trend world wide. When Finnish national parks allowed cycling in 2017, it opened new opportunities for tourism in Ylläs area.
In 2019 Ylläs Travel Association started a project to develop cycling tourism in the area in collaboration with local businesses. The aim of the project is to improve the area's mountain biking services, raise awareness of the area and serve national and international demand for mountain biking. In the long term the aim is to enable companies to have a safe investment environment.
One key deliverable of the project is to create a Ylläs Bike Master Plan, which will later be implemented though collaboration of local actors. The actions in the project include mapping of customer needs, designing and building new routes and launching Ylläs MTB event.
Developing cycing tourism came relevant so after the start of the project when covid-19 affected international tourism and companies were forced to reinvent their business to serve domestic demand. The ongoing cycling development served this purpose well. In summer 2020 domestic tourism in Ylläs increased by 40% from previous summer. According to a study made in the project outside winter 30% of tourists came to Ylläs for cycling and most cyclist spent 3-5 days cycling in the area.

Resources needed

The budget of the project is EUR 675 460 of which 80% is funded from the European Regional Development Fund and 20% by several local businesses.

The project staff consists of project manager (100%) and project coordinator (40%).

Evidence of success

Local businesses have invested in cycling related services. For example, between 2019-2021 the amount of rental bikes has more than doubled in Ylläs area. Despite this, during busiest summer months there have been several days when there has been more demand than supply for rental bikes. In summer 2020 domestic tourism in Ylläs increased by 40% from previous summer and 30% visitors came for cycling.

Difficulties encountered

Consolidating different interests: on one hand, making cycling tourism to coexist with other industries such as reindeer herding, and on the other hand making competing businesses to see the benefit of collaboration.
During covid mapping of needs of international tourists has been difficult.

Potential for learning or transfer

Motivation and original initiative for joint development has come from business sector. Members of Ylläs Travel Association are local businesses and holiday home owners and the project has received funding from local businesses. Regarding permissions and local policies, collaboration with Kolari municipality has been smooth.
While motivation comes from businesses, development activities on the other hand are customer-oriented. The project has put a lot of effort in mapping customer needs to serve real demand of end-users.
Sustainability of cycling tourism is better managed when developing the area as joint effort. During the project some environmental risks have been identified. For example with careful route planning environmental impact of cycling (e.g. erosion) can be reduced and safety of cyclists and other users of the routes guaranteed.
Main institution
Pohjois- ja Itä-Suomi, Finland (Suomi)
Start Date
May 2019
End Date
December 2022


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