Light in the Dark – Increasing resilience in rural and coastal tourism in the northern Baltic Sea Region by developing off-season experiences
Light in the Dark

Light in the Dark at MATKA 24

24 January 2024
Light in the Dark was well represented at the MATKA travel fair in Helsinki with 12 partner organisations, associated partners and members of the steering committee. After many years of uncertainty in the tourism industry there was much positivity and strong belief in the future, despite the challenging economic climate and world turbulence impacting our region.
Technical details


There are a number of solidifying trends that Light in the Dark will address and try to implement in our project in order to bring maximum benefit to the rural areas where we work. At both national and international workshops, there was strong focus upon sustainable tourism development that starts with the needs of the destination communities and not on the potential of market demand. To create viable sustainable tourism offerings, we need to attract the right customer base that will give maximum benefit to our areas. These benefits are not only economic through increased employment possibilities but considered in a broader context of social and environmental positive impacts upon the community.

There were several presentations and workshops where it was clearly shown that this niche segment can give destinations many benefits with lesser negative impacts. For example, a traveller spend of 76% locally at the destination, directly benefiting local family owned SMEs.

Light in the Dark is currently preparing two surveys based on both market demand and the needs and challenges of SMEs in the rural coastal area of the Baltic Sea. The analysis and outcomes of this will form a base for the concept development process that we will implement transnationally in this year.

We should also mention two prizes awarded by The Finnish Guild of Travel Journalists (link in Finnish) at the fair with themes that have a very high importance within the project group. Project partner Cursor/ Visit Kotka Hamina won best domestic destination for their phone-free island Ulko-Tammio. Silence being a strong focus element in our project. Latvia won best foreign destination for its work as a culinary destination. Kurzeme Planning Region is the Light in the Dark partner working with the coastal area of Latvia.

Attendees gained much information and knowledge through workshops, sales meetings with tour operators and from B2C marketing on the current trends and needs within the industry. We will take this experience to the project through the network of 41 organisation that make up the core partner and stakeholder group.

One of the challenges of our project is to design tourism offerings that are the right fit for the destinations in the rural areas around the Baltic Sea coastline. Matka is the largest travel industry event in Northern Europe and held in January each year.

James Simpson
Project manager
Lead partner, Novia University of Applied Sciences