Increasing role of tourism in Finnish national parks

Author(s): Puhakka R


While the role of traditional livelihoods has decreased, tourism has become an important tool for regional development in northern peripheral areas, and the economic and political expectations have increased. National parks have become
attractive tourist destinations also in Finland. This article analyses how the central stakeholders – park authorities, tourists and tourism entrepreneurs – perceive the role of tourism in Finnish national parks. Parks are understood as spaces constructed by historical and social practices; the role of tourism is thus neither historically nor culturally unchanging or indisputable. By analysing planning documents and interviews, the study identifies four discourses that define the interaction between nature conservation and tourism in Finnish parks: 1)
national parks as conservation areas, 2) national parks as tourist destinations, 3) national parks as destinations of sustainable nature-based tourism, and 4) national parks as resources for local people. The study indicates that the role of
tourism has increased in national parks in Finland. Nowadays the aim is to integrate the ecological goals of nature conservation and the economic goals of nature-based tourism by implementing the principles of sustainability. The possible
effects of the recent discursive shift on the future development of protected areas are also discussed in the article.

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