Sustainability in the Savonlinna region

Sustainable tourism in the Savonlinna region means taking care of nature, the environment, cultural heritage and human wellbeing.

Our vision is that the Lake Saimaa region is a pioneer in sustainable tourism and the number one choice for conscious travelers. We promote the appeal of the region as a sustainable and attractive travel destination and help the sustainable growth of companies. We are guided by the shared values of Lake Saimaa’s tourism industry; hospitality, sustainability and cooperation.

We are committed to sustainable development

We are committed to the national principles of sustainable tourism and their implementation. We develop our operations systematically and long-term with the help of the Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) sustainable tourism program. We have drawn up a sustainable tourism development plan and regularly monitor the realization of its goals and metrics. The city of Savonlinna and the municipalities of the region are committed to promoting sustainable development, strengthening the area’s vitality and promoting responsible tourism and recreational use by signing the Finnish Lakeland Statement. A person responsible for sustainable tourism, who supports and guides operators in the development of sustainable tourism, has been appointed to the region. We actively monitor the development of the industry and educate the companies of the region on different areas of sustainable tourism.

We respect nature and the environment

We pay attention to the diversity of nature by developing and renovating the already existing camping infrastructure. In recent years, we have improved the route signs, and the routes can be found digitally in the OutdoorActive service. We develop environmentally-friendly tourism services and products, such as cycling, kayaking, rowing, camping, skating, snowshoeing, skiing and kick sledding. On guided tours, the local guides know the environment well and can tell you about its special features and protection. Companies operating in areas managed by Metsähallitus have entered into a cooperation agreement with Metsähallitus’ unit Parks & Wildlife Finland and committed to the principles of sustainable nature tourism.

Companies in the area rent equipment for nature-friendly way of moving around both on land and on water. The vitality of the endangered Saimaa ringed seal (”saimaannorppa”) is important to us as tourism operators, and when operating in its habitats, we follow the principles of seal-friendly tourism. Experienced guides on Saimaa ringed seal excursions stay at a respectful distance from the seal and tell interesting stories about its living conditions.

The nature tourism plan of the Savonlinna region gives us guidelines for future sustainable nature tourism development measures for the years 2022-2026.

Preference for renewable energy, energy efficiency and the circular economy are already the daily routine of many tourism operators in the region, and companies that are pioneers in sustainable tourism are developing their operations with the help of sustainable tourism programs and environmental certificates. We guide companies in developing and measuring sustainable operations, and the goal is to introduce a tourism carbon footprint calculator during 2023. We are also following with interest the development of the tool for measuring the nature footprint.

» Did you know that more than 21 % of the area of the Savonlinna region is Natura 2000 protected areas?

We cherish cultural heritage

We respect, maintain and revive the region’s cultural heritage by productizing it into interesting tourism entities. The local guides know the history and cultural heritage of the areas and tell interesting stories about the events of different eras. Many tourism operators in the region renovate and maintain culturally significant buildings and environments. The green gold culture trail and the Finnish Forest Museum Lusto tell the local residents about the importance of forests, and Riihisaari museum introduces visitors to the secrets of life in the archipelago.

» Did you know that Sulkava is one of Saimaa Geopark destinations?

Regional wellbeing

The cornerstone of sustainable tourism in the Savonlinna region is cooperation with different actors and a common desire to produce wellbeing for the region and sustainable growth for the economy. We create networks whose goal is to retain tourism income for the benefit of the local community.

We are part of the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism network, where we train and support the areas of sustainable and local food tourism. The Lake Saimaa region has been awarded the European Region of Gastronomy title for 2024.

In the area’s restaurants and hotel breakfasts, local and near-by produce is preferred. Restaurants labeled with ”We Support D.O Saimaa” value the origin, purity and high quality of their ingredients.

We monitor local residents’ satisfaction with tourism development measures through regular surveys. According to a survey conducted in the summer of 2022, 89 % residents were of the opinion that tourism has an increasing or sustaining effect on the quality of life of the locals. 92 % were satisfied with summer tourism, but residents hoped for the development of year-round tourism.

Companies pioneering sustainable tourism

Responsible choices are already part of everyday life for many tourism companies in the Savonlinna region. The pioneers of sustainable tourism work systematically to improve the sustainability of their operations and have been awarded a company-specific STF label.

You’re warmly welcome to the Savonlinna region to enjoy sustainable holiday experiences and local services. Many of our destinations and service providers in the Visit Savonlinna area are committed to developing sustainable tourism. Responsible tourism is a joint matter for tourism operators and tourists. This is how you can make a difference: Responsible tourist’s guide (pdf)