Tourism in Ruka-Kuusamo area is based on the beautiful sights and the pure nature. Enhancing sustainable traveling is especially important for us. Sustainable Travel Finland is a program launched by Visit Finland, enabling us to make responsible actions and sustainable choices part of our everyday life in tourism.
MyTrail (MunPolku in Finnish) was born from the desire to help our guests to get to know the delicate nature, using their own muscles to get around. Small groups make it possible to get fascinated by the gorgeaus sceneries and enjoy the wellbeing in the nature, for instance while doing forest yoga.
Hiking on nature's terms
Appreciation and cherishing nature are a natural part of the company's values since the business itself is based on the existence of the pure nature. MyTrail takes sustainability into consideration in all steps of planning and operating their trips to nature. Guides and guests aim at leaving no trace, using existing trails and campfire sites. Everyone takes care of picking up any litter and recycling it the best possible ways.
MyTrail uses sustainable, durable hiking gear with high quality. Broken equipment are fixed and unused gear gets a new home by those who need it most. MyTrail guests can enjoy their snack lunch using cutlery and dishes made from reusable or recycled material. Lunch itself is cooked from pure local ingredients produced by small local businesses. MyTrail minimizes wastage by careful planning.
Versatile communication about sustainability
When a business like MyTrail - based on sustainable and responsible methods - is working towards sustainability certification, the work is mainly done by writing down the principles, actions and goals in such a form that everyone can cope it. Piritta Liikka from MyTrail sees the biggest changes happening in the ways how they communicate about sustainability to guests and partners. Nowadays she is much more open and systematic in the ways how she tells all guests about the special features of the local natural sights, nature preservation and local culture.
- Our communication about sustainability has become much more organised and regular. Besides communicating about responsible actions online and in the social media, we have blended the same messages as part of our activities. For instance, we tell our guests about the Outdoor Etiquette, including the rights and responsibilities it brings along.
Deepening awareness and better decision making
MyTrail is actively encouraging its partners to work according to the guidelines of sustainable tourism. Piritta tells them about the Sustainable Travel Finland program. She teaches their guests to verify the actions claimed in sustainability statements and to make choices based on knowledge and science.
Identifying things that still need to be developed is part of the sustainability certification process. Besidess improving the communication about sustainability, Piritta sees possibilities in enhancing more ecological ways for guest transportation, for instance using the local taxi services for groups.
New ways of thinking are visible in the company's new products as well. "Starry Sky Stories" broadens the way the guests think about hiking in nature and gives new target groups a reason and a possibility to join the hike. The trip to the dark forest is suitable for people of all ages and all stamina levels. Guests are acquainted with the mythology of the stars and local heritage regarding astrology. There are so many reasons for a hike in the woods at night, even (and especially) when it's pitch black!
Text: Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association Photos: MyTrail/MunPolku, Piritta Liikka and Harri Tarvainen