Evaluation of projects to promote the recovery of regional tourism industry completed
Development projects promoting the recovery of tourism industry in the regions have supported the capacity of regions to cope with the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In spring 2022, the Regional Council of Southwest Finland, the Regional Council of South Savo and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment launched an external evaluation, which examined the implementation of the projects and the impacts of funding. Owal Group Oy conducted the evaluation.
In the fourth supplementary budget for 2020, an appropriation of EUR 4 million was reserved for funding a project package to support the recovery of regional tourism industry. The aid was allocated to regional tourism organisations or other bodies that develop tourism in the region comprehensively.
The Regional Councils of South Savo and Southwest Finland funded 28 development projects, with the aim to strengthen the regional tourism industry, management and coordination of tourism development and cooperation on national-level measures.
Most projects were completed as planned
Considering the implementation period and the budget available, the projects produced many concrete results that promote the recovery of the tourism industry in the regions, according to Owal Group’s evaluation. The funding was allocated to projects that met the funding objectives well. On the other hand, the continuation of the exceptional situation affected the implementation of certain projects.
Close regional cooperation and a detailed definition of the objectives and measures already at the planning stage helped the projects to achieve their objectives. Cooperation between the projects and regions was also considered useful. In some projects, cooperation between regions was planned from the very beginning, while in others cooperation started in project meetings. According to the results, efforts will be made to achieve even closer cooperation, both within and between regions, after the project period.
Strengthening the capacity of tourism companies to conduct business by focusing on the needs of the region and the organisation implementing the project has helped to create wider impacts. The funding enabled the development of digitalisation and the cooperation network in ways that would have been difficult without the funding.
However, activating companies for many of the projects was difficult as the continued pandemic affected the operating environment negatively. It is not possible to confirm this soon after the end of the project whether the measures met the objectives concerning the creation or preservation of companies or jobs.
According to the evaluation, allocating the funding to regional tourism organisations instead of individual companies helped to promote the regional tourism industry as a whole as well as the cooperation between different bodies in the region. Based on the results, advancing the main themes of Finland’s tourism strategy requires the development of a tourism ecosystem at regional level, or between regions in some cases. Regional tourism organisations play a key role not only in managing crises but also in the renewal and growth of the tourism industry in general. The evaluation therefore recommends that funding be made available in other circumstances too, not only in exceptional situations.
Hanna-Mari Kuhmonen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7008
Jeremias Kortelainen, Managing Director, Owal Group Oy, tel. +358 40 758 5893