Satisfied visitors in the Kvarken Archipelago

A visitor survey was conducted in the Kvarken Archipelago during summer 2017. Topics in the questionnaire varied from knowledge about World Heritage to outdoor services in the area. The visitors, who answered, were generally very satisfied with the area, even if they also gave plenty of developing ideas.

Altogether nearly 500 questionnaire answers were gathered in different locations: Svedjehamn, Sommarö, Valsörarna main island, Rönnskär (Fäliskäret island), Mickelsörarna (Kummelskär island) and Molpehällorna. Svedjehamn and the Replot bridge were the most popular visitor attractions.

- A typical visitor was 45-64 years old, traveling with own family and lived somewhere nearby. Most of the visitors had been in the area before and some of them returned every year, says the World Heritage Coordinator Susanna Lindeman from Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland.

Almost half of those who answered lived permanently in Vaasa or Korsholm. The rest (41%) were domestic or international (14%) travelers. The international visitors came most often from Sweden. Other home countries were EU-countries, USA, Kanada and China.

Almost all (85%) of those who answered knew that Kvarken Archipelago is included on the World Heritage List, and as much as 71% believed to know the reason too. - The world heritage status was important when planning the trip for half of those who answered. However, one fourth of those who answered told that the status did not influence their travel plans, Lindeman points out.

Nature and landscape were the most important reasons to visit Kvarken Archipelago and hiking and nature observation were the most popular activities. The visitors estimated that the visit improved their health, and that these effects were worth at least 100€. Most of the visitors stayed just a couple of hours, but those who did not live in the vicinity tended to stay overnight either in the World Heritage Site or in its vicinity.

It was estimated that outdoor activities in the world heritage result in 3,5 million euros and 36 man-years annually, based on questions of expenditure. According to this study, the visitors were more satisfied in their visit now, than in the last study seven years ago. The regional index for visitor contentment was 4,21, compared to 3,98 in 2009. Maximal grade is 5,0.

- This means good news, because municipalities and Metsähallitus have invested in improving the outdoor services in the World Heritage Area, says Lindeman. Visitors were most satisfied with cleanliness and safety, variability of landscapes, parking places, trails, signposts and fire places.

- Visitors gave also plenty of ideas considering further development of the service, and these suggestions encourage us to enhance the service even more, Lindeman adds.

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