Coastal experiences all year round, with sustainability in focus
The aim of the Bothnian Coastal Route project is to increase the attractiveness of the coastal route across the Kvarken and around the Gulf of Bothnia for both foreign visitors and the local population. The project aims to increase the number of reasons to visit destinations along the route to explore their rich product range and at the same time create better conditions for sustainable growth.
The funding granted means extensive cooperation between three Swedish and four Finnish organisations. The organisations will come together as project partners for the three-year Interreg Aurora project from January 2023.
–With a strong partnership and closely located sites in both countries, we will jointly develop tourism along the coastal route around the Gulf of Bothnia and across the Kvarken, describes Marianne Sjöström, Project Manager at the Kvarken Council.
The project will elevate our coastal region as an attractive tourist destination all year round and will also show how it can be done in a sustainable way. Tourism companies located along the Bothnian Coastal Route, as the project is also called, gain visibility through the marketing of the project, which targets the European tourism market. The project also includes business development, with a focus on the ability of the tourism industry to adapt to possible future crises, such as the pandemic that the sector has just experienced.
–This new project constellation along the coast of the Bothnian Bay complements the existing regional cooperation networks in a good way. Current destinations that are in demand take into account sustainable development and high natural and cultural values – and visitors prefer all this without crowding, says Rickard Lundmark, CEO of Luleå Business Region and Luleå Tourism Organization.
–With the help of the project, we will increase awareness of the area's magnificent nature, culture and lifestyles, and together we will put our unique coastal environments on the map. Everything is aimed at attracting future visitors all year round, says Maria Broman, CEO of Visit Skellefteå.
Common denominators, unique experiences and strong partnership
Several members of this partnership have already collaborated on other similar projects in the past and have seen together the benefits of profiling, thus attracting the attention of international visitors. In addition to this, it can be seen that the enlarged partnership has many common denominators and values that appeal to international visitors.
–The project allows us to draw on the experiences and knowledge gained from the previous Kvarken Destinations project. The project will further deepen cross-border cooperation between Sweden and Finland in order to steer the tourism sector in the Gulf of Bothnia in a more sustainable direction. Together, we have an attractive product range around the Gulf of Bothnia and we are looking forward to this cross-border cooperation," says Gabriella Hed Vall, CEO of Visit Umeå.
–With this wonderful cross-border cooperation, we are building a strong marine tourism ecosystem in the Gulf of Bothnia and increasing the awareness of our unique Arctic coast in the international market. Together, we form a sufficiently large and competitive entity that enables tourism companies to grow, new trade relations and partnerships," says Janne Anttila, Managing Director of Kalajoen Hiekkasärkät Oy.
–The strengths of the Bothnian Bay region in cooperation with the Kvarken region offer fascinating opportunities at different times of the year. For example, the icy sea lake, the nightless night, nature sites and rich cultural heritage are uniquenesses, the productisation of which into services and tourist routes makes them accessible and experienceable experiences, says Jyrki Kemppainen, Account Manager at BusinessOulu of the City of Oulu.
"In addition, companies have the opportunity to make new contacts, collaborate and also learn from each other. The development of local sites is important to us in the northern parts of the Nordic countries, adds Project Manager Peter Källberg, Vaasa Region Development VASEK.
Eco-friendly transport as a link connecting the tour
Wasaline (NLC Ferry Oy) is involved in the project as a co-financier and acts as a connecting link at sea through its environmentally friendly ship Aurora Botnia.
"It is exciting that we can market ourselves more widely in Europe as a sustainable tourist destination. We already have the top product Aurora Botnia, which guarantees the world's most environmentally friendly transport across the Kvarken. Combining destinations and cities into a functional route, which includes two countries and has a holistic theme of coastality, water and sustainability, we see as a concrete and achievable goal, says Catarina Fant, Wasaline Director Brand and Communications.
In addition to the destinations, approximately 150 companies in the project area are expected to participate in the project, which will take place between 2023 and 2025.
following destinations are implementing partners in this tourism project, which
has now been funded by the Interreg Aurora programme; On the Swedish side,
Luleå, Skellefteå and Umeå. On the Finnish side: Oulu, Kalajoki and Vaasa. In
addition to these, the project also includes travel destinations: Piteå,
Haparanda, Tornio, Kemi, Kokkola and Pietarsaari, as well as Wasaline as a
connecting link at sea.