Is it ok for you to be a Tourist?

News from Finland

Let´s talk about Tourism in Finland, again. I have been following the debate of Finnish Tourism for years. Sometimes I follow it as an outsider, comparing it to my experiences in Spain where I used to live and work in tourism industry more than ten years and still have a strong connection to Spain. Spain is one of the biggest countries in the world when talking about Tourism and we have a lot to learn from Spaniards. I have also done research about sustainable tourism in Spain years ago and it´s results had come quite often to my mind lately.

This week we followed the big event called Suomi Areena which gathers representatives of our society to discuss about the actual issues. Some of the influencial persons of Finnish Tourism industry had also attended the thematic debates of the event.

Unfortunately, I couldn´t be there and didn´t find any videos of the interviews. So, to get an idea what has been discussed is based on few posts on Twitter and LindedIn. According to them the main issue had been the need to clarify the message how to promote Finland as a Tourist destination.

Now it´s interesting to follow the next steps; we have a kind of tourism brand but we need to clarify it, specially from the responsible point of view.

During that event they also talked about Iceland and the secret of its success as a tourist destination. Hopefully they also talked about how to anticipate the problems of fast growing tourism as the success-story of Iceland has its pros and cons as we also know.

Nobody wants to be a Tourist?

There have been couple of articles I have also read during the last couple of days. One of them is this: Residents in Tourism hotspots have had enough which is basicly about overtourism.

Harold Goodwin has defined overtourism as following and I agree it: ”Destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably. It is the opposite of Responsible Tourism which is about using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit. Often both visitors and guests experience the deterioration concurrently”.

In the article linked above, the chief executive of Helsinki Marketing, Laura Aalto, pointed out this: “Nobody wants to be a tourist, everybody wants to be part-time locals. Our job is to create the kind of circumstances, conditions and platforms for visitors who come to Helsinki to meet with the locals and not go to the most obvious attractions”

Ever since I have been studying and working in Tourism industry (more than 25 years) it had been repeting  the same  – nobody wants to be a tourist. Sometimes one wants to be a traveller, some other moment adventurer and now part-time local?

Local meets visitor

I got the point of Laura Aalto´s opinion in the article above and I do agree many other insights in the article. Helsinki marketing is doing  good job and we are happy that our opinions seem to be of our decision makers´interest.

But I somehow got stuck in the world of part-time local. When talking about encounteres  the line  between locals and tourists  is very sensitive and personal and should always be defined by the locals. Are the part-time locals ready to follow the rules and responsibilities – do they pay for the services?

In Spain, when doing the research, most of the locals I interviewed, told that they prefer tourists to have their resorts and own areas so that locals can keep on living the tranquil everyday life. They told they are happy to have tourists and they understand the benefits. They also had interest to offer local services and share cultural specialities  – when they get paid for it because Tourism is an industry where people need to earn also their living.

This is one of the views, which I as tourism professional, would like to point out now in Finland; Tourism industry must be developed in responsible way considering also the economical sustainability and fair pricing. It´s good to remember that skilled professionals are also local.

Helsinki Guides get sometimes messages where locals ask guides to inform the tourists not to enter to private gardens nor to take pictures of private homes or children playing in backyards. In wintertime we had news from Lapland about the locals tired of too many tourists in local supermarkets and pharmacies. One of the Spanish Tour Leaders told the tourists were not so happy to walk in congested streets in Rovaniemi which had been promoted as an authentic wilderness capital.

Different values mean different expectations

Of course the expectations of locals and tourists change and have been changing. The cultural evolution in our society and its influence in tourism is evident.

Transmodern tourists want to have authentic experiences together with locals,  but in the other hand they do respect the rules locals want to establish, they are ready to pay for the experiences and they do respect the nature.

There are still, though, postmodern individualists, adventurers who wants to take their own way and not follow the others, those who expect to have tailor-made services, produced in customer´s terms and defenetly don´t want to be called as tourist.

There are also plenty of modern and traditional tourists willing to have the traditional sightseeing-tours and visiting the most popular sights.

It seems that Finland and Helsinki want to focus on transmodern tourists which is a good decision, as it is the fastest growing value based visitors group in the world.

Most of the visitors coming to Finland at the moment seem to be traditional and modern tourists, and we all need to work hard to get  the marketing message through to our potential visitors  –  and meanwhile understand the expectations of different kind visitors and be ready serve them.

Arctic point of view – what is the correct price for the experience?

I also red an other interesting article: Sustainable arctic Tourism and was happy to find some very good insights about sustainability. Rauno Posio, Project director in Lapland Chamber of Commerce and member or Arctic Economic Council says as following:

”The problem is how to combine the pristine nature with tourism flows. The north will not and should not become a mass tourism destination. Instead, we need to provide high-quality services with prices that help us avoid overpopulating our tourist attractions.”

There are many other persons in industry also talking about pricing. I think it´s very important and would like to totally agree. But it´s again, a theme with pros and cons.

Finland is already known as an expensive tourist destination, Finns and specially Finnish families often travel abroad because domestic tourism is more expensive.

If we make sure the service is worth of higher prices when promoting it abroad – higher prices could be one solution. Maybe there could be other prices for domestic visitors? I have written about nature based luxury experiences and pricing in this previous post: Yes – we have Luxury Tourism in Finland

I also agree those who are telling us not to worry  about masstourism in Finland; we have plenty of pace  and no risk to become a masstourism destination. It´s not about masstourism but about overtourism in our case. I recommend to read the article at the end of this post for not to confuse with the definitions.

Tourism is hospitality industry where human meets human

To offer Premium level Customer Service (new luxury) highly skilled professionals are needed and at this moment there is lack of employees in Finnish Tourism industry. Hospitality enterprices refuse to pay higher salaries and offer better living conditions for seasonal employees because of bad marging. Political decisions to support the industry, high standard education and very good management is needed.

One of the projects to find solutions is the one funded by The Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland called Matkailudiili ( Tourism deal). Please, read more about it here in English: Tourism deal

So – what´s my point in all this?

I would like to point out, that Responsible way should be the only way to develop Tourism. Responsibility is about making human decisions, respect the local and understand that where ever we travel, the time and skills of the Service providers and resources of the experiences should be paid, because Tourism is industry and profession.

In Finland we need to take special care of our nature. In many destinations where overtourism is recognized as a problem, the problems have started from the sights free of charge – because that´s the way to be as a local – finding the places where the locals are – and over time they get overcrowded.

Tourism is hospitality industry where human meets human with respect. Let the locals be hosts and the visitors be guests – it might be the fairest deal for everybody. To conclude my message, I invite you to read also this very good article by Harold Goodwin resuming the history and actual situation about overtourism as it can be understood now: Overtourism

Thank you for following the blog.
Any comments are appreciated!
With arctic regards,

ps. If you read the definition of  ”Tourist” of two pages (p.499-591) from the Encyclopedia of Tourism edited by Jafar Jafari (Routledge 2000) – you would be proud to be a Tourist!

Let´s talk about Customer Experience in Helsinki and in Lapland

Javier arrived from Lapland – and not for the first time

Javier Pedrosa is Geographer, Researcher and Tourism professional. He has been travelling all over the world and he has been travelling dozens of times with groups in Finland and in other Nordic countries.

It was Javier who told me years ago that the connection we have to nature and the way we respect the old customs makes Finland different from the other Nordic countries. He admires our way of protecting the nature and the way how nature has always inspired Finnish artists and architectures. He also likes a lot the Finnish way of keeping silent and the Finnish way of being. But sometimes he has something more to say – if I ask him, and now I did.

Current topics of Finnish Tourism Industry

We met in Helsinki and started to talk about the very current topics of Finnish Tourism Industry as we both work in same business. Tourism is growing more than ever in Finland and we are facing new challenges among the professionals. Finnish researches are talking about Touristic Story and about Authentic Story. We are some also concerned about responsibility and overtourism.

I got inspired of the news I have been following lately and decided to take some pictures to tell  a short Touristic Story of Helsinki. Please have a look of it here:

Let´s talk about Customer service and Customer experience

Javier comes from Spain, which is the third (o second,depending on the year) biggest Tourist destination in the world. Spaniards know a lot about Tourism as industry, as a serious business and how to make customers happy.

When we met, Javier had arrived from Lapland a day before and had finished the city tour in Helsinki with his clients, with a local guide, of course. It was a good moment to talk about his experiences. I would say that our conclusion was that all kind of stories can be responsible by making the right decisions.

You can join our conversation by this video. After seeing it I will list some very practical tips Javier gave me:

A short list to consider

As I told Javier admires many things in Finland, among the most important is the good education in Nature conservation and he always remembers to mention Martti Ahtisaari and Finnish skills in peace negotiation. He is also grateful to travel with clients in safe country and he gives good feedback about road conditions.

He is not totally happy of the activities offered in Lapland. He would like to have more choices  and more simple activities as we tell on video. He would prefer something else than disposable dish when taking clients to have a soup, some snack or hot drink in Lappish ”kota”.

He also says that the attitude could be better when facing clients from different cultures. Too often the activities happen in a hurry which causes tense and no flexible treatment is considered – and the joy of working with clients would be great to be noticed.

Javier says he noticed this year that there are more non professionals working in several positions. More foreigners are working as well, but Javier says it is no problem always when Finnish or Lappish people take care of the authentic activities where the story is important part of the experience.

Javier was also little bit worried about the capasity of Rovaniemi airport; he says he has been witnessing moments where the tourists have lost their nervs because of too crowded terminal and sometimes there have not been enough place to park the buses.

The feeling of space and tranquility versus Overtourism

As Finland gives the promise to be a silent and spacious destination, it is also, according to Javier, strange to have the feeling of too many people walking in the street and this happens now in Rovaniemi and in Saariselkä. Those who are in Finland for the first time probably don´t have that feeling, but it certainly requires accostum also among the local people durign the high season.

Maybe at the end the most responsible choice is to construct tourist centers for masses – constructed and managed by the locals.

There are good examples in Spain of big Tourist destinations. I used live several years in Benidorm in Costa Blanca and my friends told me already 20 years ago that they prefer to have Tourists living their story of Spain in Benidorm meanwhile the locals live the real story of everyday life of Spain in their own villages and suburbans. I have lived the same reality and totally understand the point.

Benidorm poniente todo

Now we talk about Overtourism. I like Harold Goodwin´s definition of Overtourism and have nothing to add: destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably. It is the opposite of Responsible Tourism which is about using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit. Often both visitors and guests experience the deterioration concurrently

Finland has a very good reputation in Education  and  it should be redeemed as a quality in Tourism Industry and in customer service. Shall we all work together to make Finland a good example of excellent service and responsibility? I´m in, are you?

Thank you for following my blog, please feel free to comment below!
I am grateful to cooperate, please visit the website for more information:
Mood of Finland

Javier – muchas gracias por tu tiempo y dedicación! Un abrazo fuerte!

p.s. Harold Goodwin will be attending the Conference for Responsible Tourism in Jyväskylä the 21-23.3.2018. Please read more about: ICRT

Rakkauden Metsä

Rakkauden lukot? So last season

Maailman metsäpäivä ja oivallus! Suomessa on käyty alkuvuonna 2016  yhteiskunnallista keskustelua metsien suojelusta ja metsähallituslaista. Metsien monimuotoisuuden suojeleminen on päivän puheenaiheena. Metsien ja luonnon terveysvaikutukset on tunnustettu saatujen tutkimusten perusteella ja luonto on Suomen tärkein matkailullinen vetovoimatekijä.

21.03.2016 oli Maailman metsäpäivä ja seurasin keskustelua sosiaalisessa mediassa. Minä sain päivän aikana idean, jonka haluan viedä käytäntöön. Olen jo viestinyt ideasta Visit Finlandin Matkailujohtajalle Paavo Virkkuselle ja Media- ja yhteiskuntasuhteiden johtajalle Jari Ahjoharjulle. Odotan vahvistusta tapaamisesta, jossa keskustelemme Joulupukista ja ilmastonmuutoksesta ja toivottavasti myös uudesta ideasta.

Aion olla lähipäivinä yhteydessä Ville Niinistöön ja Anni Sinnemäkeen. Listalla on myös Suomen luonnonsuojeluliiton Leo Stranius. Kerroin ideasta  Reilun matkailun yhdistyksen vuosikokouksessa ja Vanajalinna Groupin toimitusjohtaja Pekka Vihmakin sai viestini.

Idea on kiinnostanut kaikkia, joille olen siitä kertonut. Kukaan ei ole ainakaan suoraan sanonut EI. Vahvan KYLLÄ sanoi Haltia luontokeskuksen johtaja Tom Selänniemi, joka on lanseerannut ajatuksen Helsingin brändäämisestä maailman Luontopääkaupunkina.

Jos ei olla nopeita, voi olla, että ruotsalaiset vievät hyvän idean!


Rakkauden metsä – tätä päivää!

Ehdotan, että Suomeen perustetaan Rakkauden metsä tai metsiä. Ne ovat vaihtoehto rakkauden lukoille ja silloille. Tiedättehän tavan, jossa rakastavaiset käyvät sulkemassa lukon sillan kaiteeseen ja heittävät avaimen veteen todistaakseen ikuista rakkauttaan. Kuuluisimmat sillat ovat Pariisissa, Venetsiassa ja New Yorkissa eikä ongelmilta ole vältytty  eikä tapa ole ihan varauksetta ympäristölle hyväksi, eikä ruostuvat lukot esteettisesti kauniita.

Ehdotankin siis, että Helsingin lähistöltä, vaikkapa Keskuspuistosta, varataan metsäalue, johon rakastavaiset voivat istuttaa oman puun ikuisen rakkauden symboliksi. Tai ehkä pari voisi saada nimikkopuun jo olemassa olevasta metsästä.

Voisiko joku hotelli profiloitua rakkauden metsän hotelliksi ja tarjota koko paketin kansainvälisille vieraille?

Jatkona tarjotaan mahdollisuutta ostaa palvelu, jossa hoitaja tai kummi lähettää kuvia puusta esim. vuoden välein. Suunnittelussa tarvitaan ammattilaisia jotta metsän istutus hoidetaan vastuullisesti ja harkiten, luonnon ehdoilla ja ympäristöä kunnioittaen.


Todennäköistä on, että pari käy katsomassa puutaan ainakin tärkeinä suhteensa vuosipäivinä ja haluavat ehkä tuoda jälkikasvunsakin puun luokse kylään. Voihan käydä niinkin, että joku haluaa kaataa puunsa rakkauden loppuessa, joten pelisäännöistä pitää sopia. Rakkauden metsästä tulisi varmasti vetovoimainen kohde ja me saisimme matkailulle tärkeitä ”repeatereita” Suomeen.

Anu j a kuusi

Minulla on kuvassa näkyvä oma kuusi. Se ei ole kovin vahva, mutta minulle  rakas ja tärkeä. Se symboloi minulle aikaa, jolloin siirryin lapsuudesta nuoren naisen polulle, sain sen rippilahjaksi ja se istutettiin lapsuuden kodin pihalle.

Olemme saaneet kiitettävästi huomiota kotimaisessa mediassa. Radio Suomen toimittaja Tiina von Martens teki aiheesta kivan radio- ja nettijutun kesällä 2016, Olli Ihamäki teki haastattelun syyskuussa 2016 Metsäradioon ja Helsingin kaupungihallituksen päätöksen jälkeen syyskuussa 2017 iloittiin Yle Helsingin kanavilla Sannika Michelssonin kanssa. Helsingin Sanomat, Metro-lehti ja paikallislehdet ovat kirjoittaneet aiheesta kiitettävän usein. Mainostoimisto suunnitteli ja lahjoitti yllä näkyvän logon Rakkaduen Metsän käyttöön.

Rakkaudenmetsä on totta!

Päivitys 26.6.2020:

Ensimmäiset Rakkauden Puut on istutettu lunastamaani pieneen hehtaarin metsään Lopelle. Helsingin Vuosaaren Rakkauden Metsän avajaisia vietetään 28.8.2020, johon tarjoalla olleet puuntaimet olivat varattavissa kaupungin avaamilla sivuilla.

Sinä voit istuttaa rakkauden puun, olla mukana kasvattamassa Rakkauden Metsää ja suojella luontoa! Rakkauden Metsän idea on jalostunut ja yksinkertaistanut. Rakkauden puu on symboli rakkaudesta, sen voi situttaa mihin tahansa luonnonvaraiselle paikalle ja olla mukana tekemässä hyvää. Muistoksi ostetun todistuksen hinnasta lahjoitetaan 10€ Luonnonperintösäätiölle ikimetsien suojeluun.

Lue lisää  tästä: Rakkauden Metsä

FB: Rakkauden Metsä – Love Forest Finland
IG. @rakkaudenmetsa

Yes – we have Luxury Tourism in Finland (Eng)

Luxury doesn´t mean same for all of us

It´s not easy to define luxury in Tourism business. We all have different kind of thoughts when thinking of luxury or deluxe. Some of you might think of Dubai and the luxurious shopping possibilities whilst someone else may think about luxurious hotels with marble, crystal chandeliers, Champagne, servants and flights by private jets. Luxury is something we don´t have in our everyday life, something special, isn´t it?

For being so personal and subjective item, it is also very sensitive branch in Tourism business to promote and sell. It´s all about customers´ needs and wishes – and once customer arrives to your place or destination,  you still need to exceed expectations. The success of Luxury Tourism requires very good image marketing – and perfect Service Design.


Rural houses in Asturias, Spain.

I had a boyfriend years ago who wanted to take me to the best five star all-inclusive holiday resorts close to golf courses for holidays and didn´t understand at all why I prefered to stay in small rural houses in the middle of nowhere.

Our expectations of luxury were different – and as you possibly guess- our relationship didn´t last for long – not only because of our different ways to spend holidays but because of our different values of life.

International definitions

I hereby sum some notes about Luxury and Luxury Tourism. I found some information about Luxury Tourism gathered in one blog  : World Tourism Forum

According to that blog  ”Luxury tourism is considered as niche tourism industry as it serves customers providing unique, authentic ‘excess’ service, so that customer won’t need to worry about the organization or lack of amenities.”

Pam Danziger, internationally known market researcher and writer has told that luxury can be separeted to ”old luxury” and ”new luxury”. According to her old luxury is something that only rich people can have, it´s  a way of life based on money and materia whilst new luxury is based on experiences and feelings.

She also define luxury as following:

Luxury should be all-encompassing, it should tell you a story, luxury need to meet the needs of the customer, it must comply with costumer values and luxury should make the customer feel special.

How about Luxury Tourism in Finland

My friend,  owner and CEO of ToolBox-travel marketing & Consulting company Kari Halonen, talked about Luxury Tourism in Matka- Travel Fair last January (2016) in Helsinki. Kari also used the definition of  Pam Danziger as base of the research he had done in Finland. You can read the results of Kari´s research in Finnish opening this link: ToolBox-travel


Sunset in Levi

While listening to him I started to think about luxury Tourism in Finland. According to the research done by ToolBox-travel there are three different kinds of Luxury Tourism:

  1. Luxury – Luxus
    • five star standard,  about the same as old luxury
  2. Incentive Luxury
    • ”once in the lifetime”- experiences, demanding money and lot of work as well as special environment
  3. Experimential Luxury
    • highlighting authenticity, based on nature and cultural values, customer service respecting the locality, first class service taking  into account the local level ( new luxury)

My experience and observation in Lapland

I was lucky to have an opportunity to visit probably the best known Luxury Tourism company in Finland, Levi Spirit Luxury Villas in Lapland. This is how they define luxury:

The definition of arctic luxury

Have you travelled the world in search of exotic experiences? Perhaps it’s time to give Lapland a chance to surprise you. Levi Spirit has all the elements that make special holidays and memorable times together. This unique resort is a combination of comfort and Arctic wilderness, which is not found anywhere else.

And yes- that´s exactly what they offer; Nordic/Finnish  -style wooden villas in Lapland. The architecture and design is simple and beautiful. Customers are connected to nature and wilderness.


Levi Spirit Luxury Villas in Lapland

The environment is excotic and the special activities can be arranged.  And then comes the main point; I think that the secret of the success lies in hospitality.

The whole customer service process is managed by one person who gets to know the customers already before their arrival – in personal way. She fullfills the customers´ wishes and needs from catering to every day cleaning, from clothing purchases to private driver and chef –  what ever is needed.


Levi Spirit – Designed in Finnish way

It´s not easy to offer luxurious service for very special customers in Levi; it is located in a small municipality of about 6400 inhabitants all together spread in very vast area. There are not, for example, so many ”five star chefs” to call at short notice.

Luxury in Levi Spirit´s  case seems to be based on local values, arctric location, nature  and the best possible service. The heart of the place is Heini, local woman who really knows how to make you feel comfortable. Her attitude and way of being is a very good example of local hospitality – she is very professional and at the same time so authentic! She tells you the story and she lets you to be part of the beautiful,  artctic story.

Thank you Heini and Pekka!
I did enjoy the spirit of Levi and the story of Lapland.



Kalevalan oppeja humanismista ja harmoniasta luonnon kanssa

Muutama vuosi sitten Helsingin sanomissa kirjoitettiin silloin 100-vuotiaasta geneveläisestä Juliette Monnin-Hornungista, joka oli lukenut Kalevalan ensimmäisen kerran alle kaksikymppinsenä, siis yli 80 vuotta sitten!

Sittemmin hän oli lukenut Kalevalan viidella eri kielellä. Hän oli täydellisen ihastunut Kalevalaan ja perusteli ihastustaan seuraavasti: ”Ihminen elää Kalevalassa täydellisessä harmoniassa luonnon kanssa, mikä on minulle luontoihmisenä erityisen tärkeää. Kirjassa on suurta humanismia sekä oppimisen ylistystä ja se on täynnä elämäniloa. Kalevala on uniikki teos runouden historiassa maailmanlaajuisestikin.”

Mummi ja Kalevalan opit

Lehtikirjoitus toi mieleen Mummini. Ei siksi, että olisimme viettäneet hänen 100-vuotispäiviään, vaan siksi, että olisin voinut melkein kuvitella Hornungin ja Mummin keskustelleen keskenään silloin kun Mummi mietti mitä antaa minulle ylioppilaslahjaksi.

Hornung kun toteaa haastattelussa: ”Jokaisen nuoren – ei vain Suomessa vaan kaikkialla – tulisi tuntea ainakin osia Kalevalasta. Monet ovat hieman eksyksissä nykypäivän elämänmenon kanssa ja Kalevalasta he voivat löytää eväitä onnellisuuteen ja rauhaan. Kalevala on nuorten kirja, siitä saa energiaa ja sisua.”

Mummi taisi ajatella samoin, sillä sain Mummilta  ylioppilaslahjaksi Kalevalan ja Mummin omatekemän Tuuterin kansallispuvun! Kesti monta vuotta, ennen kuin osasin oikeasti arvostaa lahjaa.

En laittanut pukua ylioppilasjuhliin, enkä vielä Mummin 70-vuotisjuhliinkaan, joita juhlin oranssi-mustissa hiuksissa ja Marimekon oranssikuvioisessa mekossa. Kotona oli  opetettu, että pukeutumisella kunnioitamme myös muita ihmisiä ja juhlissa etenkin juhlan järjestäjää ja äitini pukikin meidät lapsena kauniin tyylikkäästi aina juhliin lähdettäessä.

Viisautta oli sekin, että Mummi opetti ja jakoi tietoa, mutta jätti vastuun päätöksistä vastaanottajalle ja ymmärsi ajan tekevän tehtävänsä; radikaali oranssi-musta juhlapuku oli Mummin mielestä oikein hyvä. Mutta Mummin 85-vuotisjuhliin lähdin kansallispuvussa ja silloin Mummin silmistä paistoi onnellisuus. Syövän uuvuttaman Mummin me hyvästelimme seuraavan vuoden joulukuussa.

Mummi  100 vuotta – muistoissa mukana

23.05.2016 Mummi täyttäisi sata vuotta ja tämä päivä on meillä Mummille omistettu päivä. Niin kuin lehtikirjoituksen Juliette Monning Horningista, niin myös Mummista huokui harmoniaa ja elämänviisautta.

Mummi jakoi elämänviisautta meille lapsenlapsille ja opetti harmoniaa arjen pienissä asioissa. Oma äitini on jatkanut samaa tärkeää tehtävää omien lastenlastensa kanssa. Erityisesti harmonia näkyi Mummin tyylikkään huolitellussa olemuksessa; loppuun asti  saman sävyinen huulipuna ja kynsilakka – harmoniassa vaatetuksen ja korujen kanssa!

Mummi ja harmonia

Kippis ja Elämälle kiitos!

Mummi vietti 75-v syntymäpäiviään Mallorcalla, missä olin silloin töissä. Hän kirjoitti  viimeisen illan tunnelmasta kivan kuvauksen osoittaen näin pienten hetkien olevan merkityksellisiä: ”Mietin hetken mitä tekisin jääkaapissa olevalle kakkupalalle ja samppanjalle. Heittäisinkö pois? Lopulta otin ne mukaani, istuin parvekkeelle, söin kakkua ja ”ryyppäsin” samppanjaa päälle. Oli se hauska näky, mutta kukaan ei ollut näkemässä, vahinko. Istuin siinä pitkään ja ihailin kaunista iltaa. Niin ihana loma. Kiitos!”

Mummin 85-vuotissyntymäpäivillä lauloimme kitaran säestyksellä Mummin toiveesta laulua ”Gracias a la vida – Elämälle kiitos” – molemmilla kielillä. Nuo kaksi sanaa pitävät sisällään kaikkein tärkeimmän – kyvyn nähdä elämän kauneuden ja olla siitä kiitollinen. Viimeisenä Mummin opetuksena opin luopumaan;  Mummi oli ensimmäinen todella läheinen ihminen, jonka jouduin hyvästelemään ja Mummi valmisti minua siihenkin.

Mummille kiitos!

Vasta reilu vuosi Mummin syntymän jälkeen Suomi julistautui itsenäiseksi valtioksi. Nuorena aikuisena  Mummi toimi Lottana ja jäi Suomen olympiavuonna 1952 leskeksi 36-vuotiaana yksin pyörittämään arkea  kahden lapsen ja miehensä yrityksen kanssa. Mummi myi vaarin yrityksen ja perusti oman.

Mummin kemikalio-kaupassa minä  opin asiakaspalvelun parhaat opit ja opin ottamaan vastuuta tehdystä työstä jo hyvin nuorena. Mummin  kanssa opin pesemään mattoja mäntysuovalla ja nauttimaan oopperasta.

Mummista ja sitten omasta isästä luopuminen on opettanut ymmärtämään yhdessä koettujen hetkien tärkeyden ja keskustelujen merkityksen. Ja sen, että rakkaat ihmiset eivät lopulta häviä elämästä kokonaan pois ikinä, vaan muistot oikeasti kantavat loppuun asti!

Kauneinta ja parasta arvostusta on ylläpitää rakkaiden ihmisten tarinoita ja siirtää niitä seuraaville sukupolville. Meillä muistellaan tänään Mummia. Kiitos, Mummi!


The short Story of my life


vappu kaksi 2

This white graduation cap has got its story to tell. The story of life.

The story started on the graduation day when I had the great feeling of starting my own life, having all the doors open! Can you see the look of hope, happiness and confidence in my eyes?

I have drank sparkling wine from my cap, I have lost it and found it again. My cap has been travelling with me ten years abroad. I have let Spanish and Latinamerican Tourist to try it during my Guided Tours in Helsinki and  I have told them that it brings luck.

I love my cap and I love the story of it. And I still have the same feeling of hope, happiness and confidence in my life. Life is great and I am gratefull.


There are thousands of  different stories of white graduation caps in Finland, isn´t it wonderful! Wonderful is also the tradition of wearing the cap every first of May! Maybe every now and then  we remember the first time of wearing the cap and we remember the feeling of having everything ahead.

Is Finland a ”No, no” -country? At least Santa Claus says YES.


I have been thinking about the discourse hold by John Swarbrooke couple of months ago in Jyväskylä, in central Finland. John Swarbrooke´s book Sustainable Tourism Management is one of the few books I had time to read from the beginning to end during my studies in ”Finnish University Network for Tourism studies” in early 2000´s. As I have special interest in Sustainable and Responsible Tourism in my academic studies I was so happy to meet mr. Swarbrooke.

tammi tallinna pieni mökki ja saari

So I did have the oportunity to meet him, but he didn´t say a word about Sustainable Tourism. He was talking about changes in Global Tourism business which was pretty interesting too.

He also talked about customer service in general and in particular in Finland. He has visited Finland so many times that he is quite experienced tourist in Finland. He shared his experiencies with us; he said we have  no, no – culture in Finnish customer service.


One example Mr. Swarbrooke gave us was about getting the shirt ironed at the hotel. He has asked in many hotels if he could get his shirt ironed; not for free but paying for that service. And he has always got the same answer; no – we don´t have a service like that. Of course he could have sent the shirt to laundry but it had taken more time and would have been useless as the shirt was clean.

Sounds familiar – if we ask something out of the normal service the answer is very often NO.  Well, I have to say, it´s not only in Finland, I have heard that word in some other countries as well.


The brand of Finland says it is the country of problem-solving. Tourists want the problems to be solved and have fun! It´s easier to convince  tourists that the problems are solved if we start with YES instead of NO.  Sometimes we really can´t solve the problem, but at least we can say yes, we do our best. Let´s be active in this process! In Finland we should be very good at starting with YES.

In Jyväskylä we had the right dress code; at least matching the chair.

In Jyväskylä we had the right dress code with Reija Sandelin ( Haaga-Helia) ; at least matching the chair.


We went with my colleagues to have a lunch in a restaurant operated by students. It was five minutes before the closing time ( time till when one can enter to have the lunch) and the students were already collecting food away. So I asked if we still could have the lunch. The students didn´t say anything but were looking around a bit confused.

So the teacher came and told us that  ”NO,  you can´t”  because we have started to take everything away”. Now I was confused but accepted the answer. When going out of the restaurant I said to my colleagues that it´s a pity that written principles and reality don´t meet;  that school (as almost all schools in Finland) declairs to be proud of the sustainable development programme –  but they prefer throw the food away instead of selling it to us.

The teacher heard my comment, asked us to come back and told the students to serve the lunch. She acted in correct way; she admitted in front of the students  that she was wrong and then gave them a good example how to solve the problem and be kind to customers.

Next step could be that the students (future professionals)  dare to make the decisions by themselves, without any doubt, by a smile on the face.

I have learnt that we shouldn´t so easily accept ”NO” – answers but try to negotiate in a positive way. It probably helps – maybe not always but in many cases.


I had a very good friend of mine from Sweden visiting us with her 8 year old son. We had great time with kids enjoying the snow and walking in forest. As well we had a nice stop in a playground which has three different parts; one for very small children, one for those of school age and the third one for kids from +12 years where we stopped. It was the most normal thing for us to play with kids and not just stand and look at them playing – we were having fun together!

Sometimes No-No -culture spoils a good moment in everyday life.

Sometimes No-No -culture spoils a good moment in everyday life. Fun for kids can be fun for adults.

But then one lady started to shout us from the dog park next to the playground. She said ”hey – no, no.. you are not allowed to use it, it´s only for kids.”  I tried to tell her that well.. I´m quite sure that the Finnish quality ensures that the park can be used by adults as well ( equipment made by Lappset) and there might be children who weight more than us…. but NO – she told us not to be there.

We didn´t want to irritate the lady and  went to play to a forest nearby. The kids didn´t care and me either. But afterwards I went to the website of Lappset;  fortunately they have been thinking of adults; they seem to  understand that there are plenty of adults who want to join the joy of playing with the kids. It doesn´t make sense to have playgrounds where adults stay passive!


During my empirical research and in my everyday life I hear YES as well, of course!  I would say Customer Service is a huge potential when making Finland known as attractive tourist destination and we are good in many senses.  By the way, Mr Swarbrooke also asked us to be proud of our odd way of being and not to apologize the originality.

I hope Finland is soon known as a country of YES – YES – attitude. At least there is one who said Yes to me! I wrote an article about climate change and Santa Claus: Will climate change kill Santa Claus. Santa Claus had read it – or the representative of his did and then they contacted me.

It took only one week for Santa Claus to say YES. Santa Claus said YES to the idea of being a goodwill ambassador when talking about climate change. He also told that he already has started to act in this theme.

Hopefully we find the way to collaborate! The Finnish Fair Tourism Association is interested in  to be involved. Would you like to join us as well?

I  keep you informed!

I´ll write soon about Finnish Tourism Trade hold in Helsinki in January 2015.