Model Nutrients Reduction Solutions In Near-Coast Touristic Areas

Exploring culture, cuisine and cycling: highlights from the 16th Baltic Sea Tourism Forum in Oulu

11 June 2024
The 16th Baltic Sea Tourism Forum took place on June 4-5, 2024, in the coastal city of Oulu, Finland. This year's forum focused on cultural and culinary tourism, cycling, and coastal tourism. NURSECOAST-II expert Virpi Vorne (Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke Oulu) participated in the event and put her main reflections in this article.
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Since 2008, the Baltic Sea Tourism Forum (BSTF) has served as the annual gathering for EUSBSR Policy Area Tourism. In recent years, it has evolved into a key platform for communication and exchange on transnational initiatives within the Baltic Sea region. The forum aims to foster dialogue, build consensus, and develop a shared vision for addressing the main challenges in tourism development around the Baltic Sea. This year’s event featured inspiring keynote speakers, excellent networking opportunities, and the chance to explore Oulu, which is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2026.

Cycling is becoming increasingly popular among tourists in the Baltic Sea region. Biking offers a sustainable way to explore nature, local areas, and culture. However, this growing trend also creates a demand for amenities such as bathing, showering, and restroom facilities in areas where they are often lacking. To address these issues, many Baltic Sea countries have developed cycling routes and tourism infrastructure. is a leading platform for long-distance cycling routes across Europe. In Finland, provides information on suitable trail routes and bike-friendly services.

Research into culinary tourism reveals that 93% of leisure travelers select their next destination based on its food and drink offerings and reputation. Gastronomy tourism boosts visitor arrivals, enhances the destination’s brand equity, fosters local pride, generates export demand for regional food and beverage products, and significantly impacts the local economy. Eric Wolf, Founder and Executive Director of the World Food Travel Association, emphasized that the notion of a “gourmet factor” is often misunderstood and misleading. Instead, “local” and “authentic” are the key marketing buzzwords in the industry today.

Tourism in the Baltic Sea Region is still on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it holds immense potential. The summary highlighted that there is no need to worry about bad weather; tourists arriving at the destination will still have a unique experience. The Baltic Sea region is a hidden gem, waiting to be discovered by a larger audience. While wastewater treatment wasn’t the main focus of the forum, its functionality is crucial for the region’s attraction and tourism development. Like the rest of the tourism industry, seasonality dictates all activities, and facilities must adapt accordingly.

The Baltic Sea Tourism Forum 2024 was hosted by EUSBSR Policy Area Tourism, with support from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland, the City of Oulu, Visit Finland, Visit Oulu, and Interreg Baltic Sea Region.