The tasks of a regional organization
Regional organizations as Visit Finland’s important partners in business internationalization
Tourism is a growing export industry and a significant employer in Finland. Tourism employs over 140,000 workers (yr. 2018). The share of tourism in GDP is 2.7%, EUR 15.7 billion and the share of export revenues is 5.4%. International tourists brought a revenue of approximately EUR 4.9 billion to Finland (yr. 2018). It also benefits other industries; one tourism euro brings 0.56 cents to other industries. In 2018, 8.5 million foreign tourists visited Finland. More information about regional income and employment effects can be found from https://tem.fi/en/finnish-tourism-in-numbers.
Following the national tourism strategy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, Visit Finland creates an international view of Finland as a sustainable and desirable travel destination. Visit Finland also nationally supports businesses and groups in the industry in developing tourism services for the international market. Business Finland’s Visit Finland unit carries out the national tourism strategy on a national level and regional organizations carry it out amongst their own regions and businesses. The coordination of domestic tourism belongs to regional organizations.
The tasks of Visit Finland are :
1. To develop a travel-friendly image of Finland and to act as the platform of commercial country image communications.
2. To acquire information and analyze market information for the needs of the tourism industry.
3. To advance the internationalization of tourism businesses and regions by supporting product development and productization.
4. To perform global marketing and sales promotion.
Cooperation and role with Visit Finland
International tourists are an important source of income for many regions. The significance of tourism employment in sparsely populated areas is important. International customers ensure year-round operation and in most top tourism businesses the share of foreign customers can be up to 90% of customers. Regional organizations have often functioned in a significant role in supporting the marketing and sales of successful businesses by putting together the offerings of a region into a coherent, interesting whole which is then promoted in the international market together with Visit Finland’s marketing and sales promotion activities.
Regional organizations play a central role in developing tourism and increasing competitiveness in a region. Regional organizations coordinate functions related to tourism development, sales and marketing in their own region together with other organizations that are involved. Regional organizations also act as the voice of the business field to Visit Finland.
The cooperation between regional organizations and Visit Finland is very diverse. It includes the following among other things:
- Coordinating Visit Finland’s sales operations, marketing campaigns, tour operator tours and media trips that are directed at the region.
- Participating in major region cooperation and commit to mutual goals and operations.
- Leading the realization of Visit Finland’s sustainable development programme (Sustainable Travel Finland) in the region. The programme requires active presence from the regional organization.
- Coordinating mutual marketing activities.
- Participating in mutual activities, which promote information-driven tourism development and anticipation.
- Promoting the digitalization of tourism businesses in accordance with the national road map of Finland.
- Implementing the development of Visit Finland’s themes’ focus points to the region’s businesses and coordinating and collecting together with entrepreneurs the region’s tourist attractions into larger marketable product packages to suit Visit Finland’s themes and sales promotion operations.
- Increasing the region’s tourism businesses know-how by utilizing Visit Finland’s supply of services.
- Being involved in Visit Finland’s region expert network.
- Coordinating the region’s offerings in the new national tourism data reserve DataHub’s contents.
The position of regional tourism organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be very challenging. Regional organizations’ operations models in Finland vary considerably from region to region, but most often they are dependent on the funding of the municipality, the city and/or the tourism businesses in the region. The pandemic has caused great economic challenges to municipalities and businesses, and therefore, the financing base of regional organizations is in danger as well. It is important to secure the operation of regional tourism organizations so that tourism businesses can receive all available support in this demanding time.
According to the world tourism organization UNWTO’s instructions regional tourism organizations should be in a central coordinative role in the cooperation of different kinds of tourism organizations and in putting together strategies. Their task will extend to an operator who controls the overall picture of strategic development of tourism in the region. Therefore, it is essential to ensure the sufficiency of regional organizations’ resources so that the positive effects of tourism on regional economies can be secured in the future as well.
 UNWTO Guidelines for Institutional Strengthening of Destination Management Organizations (DMOs)– Preparing DMOs for new challenges, UNWTO 5/2019: https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/book/10.18111/9789284420841
 Selvitys Suomen matkailuorganisaatioiden toimintamalleista (2019), Visit Finland: https://www.businessfinland.fi/4aaab2/globalassets/julkaisut/visitfinland/tutkimukset/2019/selvitys_suomen_matkailuorganisaatioiden_toimintamalleista.pdf