Cross-border collaboration and joint marketing efforts were key efforts to achieve an internationally recognizable travel destination, which would benefit both countries and their regions. In addition, the project’s aim was to increase collaboration between tourism firms and promote company collaboration over the Baltic Sea.
Tour operators (TOs), who found the joint Kvarken area interesting, were interviewed. A Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis was then carried out based on input from tour operators and experts in tourism, destination development and marketing. The purpose was to gain an understanding how the Kvarken region is perceived from an external experts view.
Nature is a major attraction factor for Kvarken and according to trends, there is a growing interest in nature-based destinations, partly due to the pandemic. The world-renowned brand UNESCO is of benefit, whoever is development of activities and tourism infrastructure through which visitors can experience Kvarken still of a necessity. Here the ferry connection is a key factor for the region to brand themselves as a joint tourist destination, since the ferry makes the transition between the countries easy.
Creation of travel packages, for instance, food tours, day trips filled with activities for diverse groups (families, singles and so forth) helps to tie the destinations together and interest international travelers. On the destinations joint website “Destination Kvarken” tourists can find the mentioned activities. Pooling tourism resources in Ostrobothnia (Finland), with resources from Westrobothnia (Sweden), for joint Kvarken destination marketing was the key issue to be developed and tested in this project.
The Destination Kvarken project will help small and medium enterprises with focus on the hospitality industry to reach new or bigger markets. This is to elevate more growth and competitiveness for the Kvarken region that hopefully will result in an increased number of visitors.
Destination Kvarkens project goal was achieved by networking and cooperation, research and development (R&D), digitalization, market activities and product development. Hanken was responsible for providing knowledge to the two work packages: R&D as well as Digitalization
The destination Kvarken project includes three provinces in Ostrobothnia Finland, the region of Umeå and High Coast of Sweden. Kvarken-destination project started in 2019 with the goal of introducing the joint travel destination to the international audience, and thus increasing the number of foreign tourists visiting Kvarken.