Prabhat Verma Writes For The Dope: ‘Finland Is A Role-Model For Sustainability’

It will be sometime before Inbound business strikes back but for that Indian tourism has a huge task at hand. Our entire future depends on how successful we are in wooing back the travelers, which will probably require a revamp in our market positioning and image.  Just the mention of India, conjures up images of deep-rooted culture, temples, ancient history, monuments, crowded places, riverbanks, festivals, bazaars and hordes of people.  All of this is what made ‘Incredible India’ a roaring success. However, going forward we may have to change tracks. 

Repositioning the Indian brand

The key is in projecting ourselves as a country that is conscious of nature, one that is responsible, hygienically on top or at par with others, sustainable, green and eco-friendly.  These cliche terms have been used in our marketing lingo however now the time has come to highlight them stronger than before.  Do we have 10 USPs that we can boast of?  The adventure travelers constitute a miniscule percentage of our total arrivals but thanks to an after-COVID tourism map, India will have to change with the times and focus more on nature and outdoor lovers instead of the stereotyped culture-oriented ones, which may be close to extinction.  The trend worldwide has been on soft-adventure lately with interest towards history and heritage waning away.  Why should we not look at some successful models in other countries?

The Finnish prioritise nature above all else

Having roamed the world and seen different sustainability models in different places, one country that makes a bold statement is Finland. Whileall of Scandinavia is well known for its various green initiatives, Finland leads by example.  The coronavirus has brought everyone closer to nature by force whereas the Finnish always knew they had to take care of bio-diversity as their entire lifestyle & tourism model revolves around it.  Finland tourism board has played a significant role in positioning the country as an obvious choice for nature lovers and discerning travelers.  Every nook and corner of the county boasts of local experiences which make it a round-the-year destination.  

Olavinlinna Castle Finland

The summer & winter experiences, as well as Lakeland & Lapland ones, vary from each other so much that the country sees many repeat visitors in the same calendar year.  Known to be a country with an extremely high ‘Happiness Quotient’, very fresh air, millions of lakes, maximum forest cover, zero crime rate and a haven for hikers, the locals are deeply involved and engaged in retaining nature’s pristineness and ecological balance.  It is all about living in harmony with the environment and leaving no carbon footprint. The most popular excursions in every town are either done by foot, on bicycles or using battery vans. 

The local vendors and suppliers are super trained and their first concern is always not to disturb the nature, irrespective of what activities they conduct. According to EPI, (Environmental Performance Index), Finland is among the top 10 sustainable countries in the world scoring a whopping 78.64 based on variables, which were structured into 5 components with equal weighting, and included 22 environmental factors. These environmental factors were evaluated between waste reduction, use of agrochemicals, water quality, emissions and concentrations of pollutants, energy consumption, energy efficiency, population growth, vehicle fleet and corruption perception.  The country has got many eco-friendly hotels and green transportation. Finland people have always considered nature as their caretaker and in return take complete care of it.

Being carbon-neutral and waste-free

Finnish love nature and the connection goes beyond their leisure activities.  It is giving rise to new natural resources: great ideas that can help mitigate climate change. Finnish towns are having success with various strategies in the quest for zero emissions.  They are taking action against climate change.  Two best examples are the towns of Li and Lahti. By investing in solar, wind and geothermal energy, Li is on track to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2020, a cool 30 years ahead of the EU target.  Lahti stopped using coal in April of 2019 and is spending 180 million euros on a bioenergy plant, aiming to become carbon neutral by 2025 and be the first major Finnish city to do so.  Lahti and Ii are also part of Fisu (Finnish Sustainable Communities), a network of municipalities working towards becoming carbon neutral and waste-free by 2050. 

Finland requests all visitors to take a sustainable pledge, which is not about signing a document or filling up any forms.  It is about making a promise to oneself to slow down from within, to relax and connect with nature, to treat it with respect, to keep forests & lakes plastic free, to drink tap water, to enjoy the right to roam free.  Then it is also about respecting the lives of locals and to be considerate with cameras and loud vocals.  Finns like it quiet and slow and one must become like them while visiting their beautiful country.  


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