National Parks and Hiking Areas Generate Income to Local Businesses in Finland
Local businesses benefit from the funds granted by the Finnish government for national parks and hiking areas, as the funds return to society many-folded through local entrepreneurship and jobs. Government budget funds are used for building and maintaining hiking facilities in national parks and hiking areas. The private sector creates tourism business services around these areas.
The Finnish government finances the trails and campfire sites, i.e. the infrastructure of national parks and hiking areas. These facilities help create tourism industry in the vicinity of the protected areas.
National Parks Return 10 Euros to the Finnish Economy for Every Euro Invested by the Finnish Taxpayer
The input-output ratio of the national parks is good: when Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland (P&WF) invests one euro of tax payers’ money in the hiking services of national parks, the local economy benefits over 10 euros, on average. For national parks located next to ski resorts, the average input-output ratio is still higher. Close to big cities and the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, the visitation impacts are primarily recreation and health benefits.
The total income and job impacts of all the 39 national parks in 2016 were 178.9 million euros and about 1,774 jobs (full-time equivalent) and for all the 6 hiking areas 13.3 million euros and about 142 jobs (FTE).
Year 2016, the national parks with biggest local economic impacts were Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park with 60.0 million euros, Urho Kekkonen National Park with 21.7 million euros, Koli National Park with 19.1 million euros, Oulanka National Park with 18.9 million euros and Pyhä–Luosto National Park with 13.7 million euros.
The biggest local economic impact is reported for Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park with 36.5 million euros, the second biggest being Urho Kekkonen National Park with 21.5 million euros and the third Oulanka National Park with 19.0 million euros and the fourth Koli National Park with 17.7 million euros.
The biggest local economic impacts can be seen in tourism centres where the visitors stay for a longer period and the supply of tourism services is larger. In 2016, the visitation numbers in Nuuksio National Park in the Helsinki Metropolitan area were 339,400 and those in Koli National Park 181,000. Yet the local economic impacts were much more important in Koli which generated 19.1 million euros, whereas Nuuksio only 3.9 million euros.
- Local Economic Impacts of Finnish National Parks and Other Protected Areas Year 2016 (pdf)
- The Visitation Numbers in 2016 of National Parks, National Hiking Areas and Other Protected and Hiking Areas of Recreational Importance. (pdf)
Popularity and Economic Benefits of National Parks Grow Well
The visitation numbers of national parks grew seven percent in 2016. The visitors spent more money in the park gateway communities than the year before resulting in 21 % more income. This seems like a huge leap, but in reality, the increase of visitor spending effects has occurred over the past few years. Visitor spending effects are evaluated by visitor surveys, and that information is updated on average every five years. Year 2016 the visitor spending figures of two major northern national parks, i.e. Pallas–Ylläs and Pyhä–Luosto were updated.
A total of 2,811,200 visits were paid in the 39 national parks of Finland. This is a fairly high figure considering that there are only nearly 5.5 million inhabitants in Finland. The most popular national park in 2016 was once again Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park where the number of visits exceeds 0.5 million visits.
It is the belief of Parks & Wildlife Finland that the national parks will be able to tolerate even higher increases in visitation. With good planning of hiking trails and services one can prevent the adverse effects on nature. At the same time it is possible for tourism enterprises to increase their income. To prevent erosion, we have made the trails more durable, for example in Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park. At the same time, the trail network has been developed so that it is easier for the hikers to reach the local accommodation and other service providers.
The Method for Calculating Local Economic Benefits Developed in Finland
Parks & Wildlife Finland calculate annually the local income and job benefits of visitor spending for all the national parks, hiking areas and some other protected areas that are important as tourism destinations.
The local economic benefits are calculated by means of a method developed by Parks & Wildlife Finland (former Metsähallitus Natural Heritage Services) and the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla, now part of the Natural Resources Institute Finland). This method is based on the MGM2 model developed in the United States for the USDI National Park Service by Michigan State University. The method uses visitation numbers, visitor spending figures and multipliers describing the flow of money in the local economy. The multipliers used in the model were updated year 2014 (Vatanen & Kajala 2015)
The total income benefits to the local economy are the direct and indirect income impacts from visitor spending per year. The method studies the impacts of all visitors, but also of those visitors that choose the study area as the main motive for the visit in the visitor survey.
Kajala, L. 2012. Estimating economic benefits of protected areas in Finland. In: Kettunen, M., Vihervaara, P., Kinnunen, S., D'Amato, D., Badura, T., Argimon, M. & Ten Brink, P. (Eds.) Socio-economic importance of ecosystem services in the Nordic Countries. Synthesis in the context of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). TemaNord 2012:559: 255–259. (www.norden.org)
Huhtala, M. Kajala, L. & Vatanen, E. 2010. Local economic impacts of national park visitors’ spending in Finland: The development process of an estimation method. Working Papers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute. 149. (www.metla.fi)
Vähäsarja, V 2014. Assessment of the financial value of the health and well-being benefits of natural environments. (In Finnish, documentary page in English) (pdf, julkaisut.metsa.fi)
Vatanen, E. & Kajala, L. 2015. Update of multipliers used by the method assessing the local economic impacts of national parks, hiking areas and other protected areas valuable as nature tourism destinations, 2014. (In Finnish, summary in English) (pdf, 1 Mb, julkaisut.metsa.fi)
US National Park Service > Economics: Visitor Spending Effects (www.nature.nps.gov)
Headwaters Economics: Economic Impact of National Park Service Units (US) (headwaterseconomics.org)