The “Virtaa vientiin ja verkostoihin” (“Enhanced export, new networks”) project is generating resources for networking and internationalisation by promoting cooperation between rural tourism operators within the scope of international networks and sales and distribution channels. The project has helped rural tourism businesses and other operators in the tourism industry to understand the growth opportunities, advantages and challenges generated by cooperation and networking, thus increasing dialogue between rural tourism SMEs and developers and trainers in the field. Moreover, the project is activating rural tourism businesses to develop their competitive ability to meet the requirements of international markets.
According to Finland’s Tourism Strategy 2020, developing foreign tourism in Finland is the most effective way of increasing income from tourism, both in terms of the national economy and from a regional viewpoint. Foreign tourism has decreased in Central Finland primarily due to the weak economic situation in Russia. While the tourism strategy of Central Finland continues to focus on the Russian market, firm marketing measures are required in other target areas.
Internationalisation is a profitable method of growing one’s business in the tourism industry. For companies, this means new requirements concerning marketing, cooperation and the expertise of personnel. The significance of distribution channels and target group knowledge increases when selecting customer segments abroad.
In the current situation, Visit Finland could reduce marketing in Russia, because the structural problems in the area are deemed too substantial to eliminate through marketing. Marketing measures could then be focused on Asia and Central Europe. Moreover, a slight decrease in domestic tourism requires enhancing business visibility in Finland.
The key goal of the project is to support the creation of networks and enterprise groups.
- Businesses in the rural tourism industry begin to develop their business operations, profitability and competitive ability. The project generates resources for networking and internationalisation by promoting cooperation between rural tourism operators within the scope of international networks and sales and distribution channels.
- Rural tourism businesses understand the growth opportunities, advantages, challenges and requirements of cooperation. Tourism operators engage in dialogue to develop the industry. The project is intended to develop a network operating model and a networking plan for tourism operators in cooperation with the JAMK School of Business, Jyväskylä University School of Business and Suomen Matkailukonsultit Oy.
Indicators determined for the goal: three networking plans and a national networking meeting for the tourism industry in Central Finland, with a focus on developing business operations and competitive ability.
Events constitute the primary tools of the project.
Other measures include retailer visits, communications, creating and updating visual communication materials, start-up kits for enterprise groups, support for regional sales measures, and service testing.
A national networking event will also be organised during the project period to promote the internationalisation of businesses. Moreover, the Jyväskylä University School of Business is going to implement an extensive internationalisation and networking survey of rural tourism businesses, intended to serve as a development and decision-making tool during and after the project period.
Small rural tourism businesses, developers and other rural operators in Central Finland
The Virtaa vientiin ja verkostoihin project is being carried out from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2018.
Administrators and operators
The Virtaa vientiin ja verkostoihin project is a collaboration between JAMK School of Business, Jyväskylä University School of Business and Suomen Matkailukonsultit Oy and is coordinated by JAMK.
Suvi Ahonen, Project Manager, JAMK University of Applied Sciences
+358 50 432 8725
Tuula Poutanen, Entrepreneur, Suomen Matkailukonsultit Oy
+358 40 764 8851
Esa Storhammar, Senior Researcher, Jyväskylä University School of Business
+358 50 310 9977