Coronavirus affects most nature tourism

26 Oct 2020, 01:33

  DF Report

Photo: VisitFinland by Emilia Hoisko.

International travel to Finland has stopped altogether due to coronavirus; and increased domestic demand has not offered sufficient compensation, according to a recent report of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

Markets for certain products in the forest sector have increased, while they have nearly collapsed for other products, said the report, adding that enterprises operating in agriculture and the food and fisheries industries are concerned over the impact of the pandemic on primary production, processing, and logistics.

The report investigates the impact of the coronavirus situation on the forest sector, the nature-based travel and service industry, the natural products sector, agriculture and the food and fisheries industries in 2020. The studied scenarios cover different development pathways for the pandemic and economy.

“Our report on the impact of coronavirus, which broadly studies the natural resources sector, shows in concrete terms how long-standing and far-reaching impact the pandemic has. As our work progressed, we also wanted to find ways for the society and different sectors to be better prepared for the future,” said Luke Principal Scientist Pasi Rikkonen, who was in charge of the project.

The coronavirus pandemic will have conflicting short-term impact on the forest sector: the decline in the demand for printing and writing paper will accelerate, while demand for certain packaging material as well as for tissue paper will increase.

“At the same time, the accelerating structural change will encourage forest-sector companies to increase research and development activities in food packaging, for example, as consumers become accustomed to remote working and takeaway meals. Digitalisation will advance throughout the forest sector,” said Luke Senior Scientist Matleena Kniivilä.

In the natural resources sector, the coronavirus pandemic will have the most significant short-term impact on nature-based tourism, as it follows the difficult situation in the entire travel sector. “International demand has dropped considerably, and the increase in domestic demand cannot fully compensate for lost sales”, said Luke Research Professor Liisa Tyrväinen.

Currently, Finnish fish markets depend heavily on imports. Disruptions in global fish markets due to the coronavirus pandemic have also brought down the prices of domestic fish.

Finland has large sea and inland water areas, as well as fish resources, the sustainable use of which can be increased to improve self-sufficiency and ensure the security of supply during crises. After all, the significance of water areas on Finland’s food supply has always become emphasised during a crisis.

Senior Scientist Jari Setälä highlights two options for domestic growth: the use of Baltic herring and many other underutilised species in food production can be increased in Finland. In addition, much larger volumes of fish can be farmed in Finland’s water areas.

“The dimensioning and positioning of production facilities and the use of new offshore and recirculating aquaculture technologies are key factors in offering opportunities for sustainable growth,” said Setälä.