Jussi Pekkinen, Landlord of Råmossa lodge: Nature tourism based on local expertise

Råmossa Lodge is located in the village of Ilola in Porvoo, Finland, approximately an hour’s drive from Helsinki. Jussi Pekkinen, the landlord of the lodge, greets all visitors with a smile upon their arrival. A candid storyteller, the landlord welcomes visitors to the charming garden and assorted rooms of the lodge. Entrepreneurship and its future in Porvoo are discussed over a cup of coffee.

The Pekkilä farm was originally owned by Pekkinen’s displaced grandparents, who bought it in 1949. The farm has since expanded and changed its name to Råmossa Lodge. The current landlord became the owner of the farm’s 225 hectares as it was passed on from one generation to another in 1999. In its current form, the farm provides small international and Finnish tourist groups with custom-made, high-quality nature experiences. The farm is run by a family company that provides a variety of services, assisted by a carefully selected team. According to Pekkinen, the main themes of the company’s activities include nature, being local, and networking - for instance, the architectural design, renovation, HVAC projects and interior decorations were carried out by local professionals in their respective fields.

Pekkinen says that Porvoo’s basic attractions (e.g. the Old Town) are in good condition. He also believes that other particularly significant pull factors in the region include the proximity of Helsinki and the high quality of transport connections. The degree of attractiveness is also increased by the bilingual and coastal culture of Porvoo, and the landlord is particularly delighted about the well-being of local agriculture - in Porvoo, farmers actually work the land, which is evident to anyone who passes by. Ilola, where the Råmossa Lodge is located, is a developing rural village with plenty of things to see and experience. Pekkinen thinks that Porvoo is strong also due to its general safety and the dynamic and modern campus with two universities of applied sciences. From an entrepreneur’s perspective, the close-knit society of a small city is also beneficial - the people and the businesses know each other, making activities and services flexible and easily accessible.

All in all, Pekkinen feels that Porvoo is very supportive towards entrepreneurs. He has been contacted by a variety of parties who have offered help, assistance, tips and support. He has established good contacts with the city and worked closely with the city’s tourist services, in particular. In addition to the usual marketing measures, Råmossa Lodge has also participated in the VisitPorvoo marketing campaign targeted at tourists from Japan and Germany, and the landlord has even been interviewed by a German paper. Pekkinen is a member of the local entrepreneurs’ association (Porvoon Yrittäjät ry), and he has offered an entrepreneur’s perspective in the development of the local economic policy. Genuine, local partners are important to Pekkinen. According to him, favouring local businesses will help to overcome the economic downturn.

Pekkinen says that the future seems promising. Nature tourism is a growing area of tourism, and the demand for nature experiences is constantly increasing in China as well as other countries. The most important themes for entrepreneurship in the future are authenticity, interaction with the customer and networking. Pekkinen feels that making a great first impression is essential in interacting with customers and that networking is a vital element of business. For example, in the future, small businesses do not necessarily need to hire their own staff, as they can provide their services through networks.

Porvoo provides a well established framework and excellent support for becoming an entrepreneur. The only concerns the interviewee has regarding the future are about how young people can be encouraged to become entrepreneurs. The discussion ends in an agreement that encouraging and supporting young people and the support provided by different parties play a key role in this.