The right time for Tampere to be the right place

Bernie Baldwin

Tampere has been confirmed as the venue for CONNECT 2022, reflecting the efforts that Visit Tampere and its partners have put into increasing the city’s role as a business and leisure destination, particularly its transport links.

With regards to aviation in Nordic countries, the industry is always under scrutiny for its environmental impacts, so when planning for the aforementioned growth as a destination, an organisation such as Visit Tampere works with the airport and other major stakeholders to develop a message of being both an economic driver and a good neighbour.

“In Finland, most of the traffic emissions come from road traffic,” notes Marja Aalto, senior specialist–aviation at Visit Tampere. “Finland is a big country with long distances and a car is a necessity for moving around. Logistically, Tampere’s location is the best possible in Finland. We are at one end of the southern growth corridor and the city is also the industrial capital of Finland. That means the local airport is very important, but it is also the greenest way to travel internationally. Travelling via the international home airport is actually a sustainable and green way to travel for our businesses, as well as for leisure purposes.

“Finavia [which owns and operates most of Finland’s airports] is well known for its sustainable ways of working and its airports have all been carbon neutral since 2019.

Meanwhile, the city of Tampere is working to become carbon neutral by 2030,” Aalto reports. “It is very important for all parties to collaborate in climate-related matters. There are several projects ongoing involving sustainable development topics, on which we work closely with local companies and partners for a greener future.”

Aalto’s colleague, Matti Pollari, who works as project manager–sustainable tourism development, explains further. “The basic scenario is that we are participating as a destination in the unique Sustainable Travel Finland (STF) programme launched by Visit Finland. To meet the goals of the STF programme and at the same time deliver the carbon neutrality 2030 goal of Tampere City & Region, we will develop a regional sustainable tourism development plan in 2021,” he comments.

The Visit Tampere team is currently referring to this as the Sustainable Travel Roadmap (STR) for the Tampere Region. “In the preparation of the STR, low carbon has been identified as the most important sustainability challenge. For the most part, the sustainability of tourism, from ecological to economic, social, cultural and security, is also in good shape in our region,” Pollari confirms. “Carbon neutrality is a long-term goal, with key ongoing issues being regional level calculation tools for monitoring and identifying development needs and seeking effective compensation solutions – because carbon neutrality is not otherwise possible.”

While Tampere is, in many ways, focussing on its own environmental leaps, Finavia’s efforts to make itself carbon-neutral can also be built upon regionally. “A good neighbour, of course, takes care of its environment, so a biodiversity partnership that also combines carbon sinks would be a great thing. In other words, the protection of old-growth forests and other natural areas,” Pollari says.

In Tampere itself, a new tramlink system is under development to enable easier movement around the city. In the longer term, a plan is being prepared this year for the extension of the tramway to the centre of Pirkkala – the municipality where Tampere-Pirkkala Airport is located – in 2028. The masterplan includes the potential for the tramway to be extended from Pirkkala out to the airport, although there is no binding timetable for the implementation of that.

As noted, having CONNECT 2022 in Tampere will raise the city’s profile in the longer term. In the short term though, the city and the airport have been fighting to come through the difficult times of 2020 and early 2021 as unscathed as possible and looking to travellers – business or leisure – to lead the recovery. Harri Ojala, director, investments and global operations, Business Tampere, reports that the Finnish economy shrank by only 2.8% in 2020. “That’s quite positive given that it is strongly interlinked globally,” he remarks.

“The good news is that Tampere managed to attract some major corporate investments such as Microsoft’s new Surface unit and HMD Global’s technology centre. We also saw some great new developments such as the “Dual” movie being shot fully in Tampere Region as the first ever full-scale Hollywood production in Finland,” he adds.

“At the same time, though, there are naturally great concerns about the economy. We are deeply missing our flights and friends all over the world. Together we will overcome this terrible period of time and make international collaboration bloom again,” Ojala sums up optimistically.

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