Finland’s Lapland has undergone a major structural transformation whereby state and municipal employment has fallen but private sector employment has increased significantly. The fact that the region’s economy is now being driven by the private sector is a great source of strength for Lapland, according to Esko Lotvonen, Chairperson of the Regional Council of Lapland.
Lapland’s private sector has grown in several sectors, for example in tourism, trade, various services and construction. According to Lotvonen, the region’s growth sectors in the future will also include the nature-based experience industry, cold technology and environmentally sustainable mining activities. The development of the experience industry is already in full flow, while the cold technology and testing activities are obviously helped by the fact that Lapland’s arctic climate makes it an ideal natural laboratory.
Lapland’s universities are producing professionals to manage the Arctic environment and to meet the needs of the experience industry and cold technology sectors. Lotvonen believes that in the near future there will also be demand for more specialists from outside the region in the most dynamic sectors.
During the past ten years EUR 10 billion has been invested in construction in the Ylläs and Levi areas, which attract major tourism flows, with 96% of the money coming from private sources. Lotvonen views this strong private commitment to Lapland’s economy as a vote of confidence in the future of the region and the long-term sustainability of the investments.
He believes that Lapland’s tourism industry will still grow significantly in the future, with more and more Europeans heading north for their holidays. Cooperation and joint marketing with Northern Norway and Northern Sweden is essential as everyone can benefit from the larger market area, according to Lotvonen.
Finnish Lapland currently has three active mining operations, with several more in the works. Europe’s gas and oil production looks set to focus on the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean, which will also boost the region’s economy. New roads and railway lines are already being talked about.
Lapland has enough space for both tourism and natural resource industries, and the Lapland brand should not be reserved for any single purpose, according to Lotvonen.
Source: Kunnallisalan kehittämissäätiö