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Assessment of the sustainable tourism potential of the Soomaa National Park

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					Assessment of the sustainable tourism
potential of the Soomaa National Park

   A research study on potential markets and marketing
strategies as part of the STDS that is required for becoming
                   a member of PAN Parks




                      Antje Többe
 Assessment of the sustainable tourism potential of the
                Soomaa National Park


A research study on potential markets and marketing strategies as part of
     the STDS that is required for becoming a member of PAN Parks




                              Final thesis




                              Antje Többe

               NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences
          International Tourism Management and Consultancy
                   Specialisation: Sustainable Tourism

                               June 2009
                                                 I



Executive Summary
This research assignment is written for the Soomaa National Park (SNP) in Estonia and the
Protected Area Network (PAN Parks). It is to support the sustainable tourism development of
the SNP by offering new product ideas and marketing opportunities. It furthermore
contributes to the Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy (STDS) the SNP is developing
in order to fulfil the preconditions for becoming a member of PAN Parks. The STDS is a
strategy that is developed and implemented in cooperation of the Protected Area Authority
and important stakeholders in the region of the PAN Park. Together these bodies aim at
creating a synergy between the conservation of natural values and sustainable tourism.

The overall objective of this research is to determine the tourism potential of the SNP and to
propose marketing opportunities for the STDS of the park.

To accomplish the research objective, the following research questions have to be answered:
   Which theoretical framework is relevant for this research?
   What is the context and background of this research?
   Who are the stakeholders and what are their roles, opinions and interests?
   What is the tourism potential of the Soomaa National Park?
   What recommendations can be given for future sustainable tourism development of the
   Soomaa National Park?

The outcomes of this research are based on a combination of desk- and field research. A
background analysis and a theoretical framework including useful marketing strategies,
provide the groundwork for the thesis. The roles, interests and expectations of stakeholders,
determined via qualitative research during the fieldwork, are assembled in a stakeholder
matrix. The various opinions of the stakeholders give input to the development of product
suggestions for the SNP. Additionally, they help in detecting which markets are desirable to
attract to the SNP.

Overall, the SNP was determined to have great potential for a sustainable tourism
development. It is a vulnerable and untouched destination that is very much conscious of the
importance of its conservation. Its stakeholders agree upon aiming at a sustainable
development and are willing to cooperate in order to achieve conservational objectives.
Working on the prerequisites for becoming a member of PAN Parks has already enhanced the
cooperation between the stakeholders and made them more active.

Current market trends can be profitable to the SNP, as they show that various tourism trends
are focused on spending more time in nature and having more meaningful and authentic
experiences. The SNP fits in line with these trends as its unique selling points lie in its natural
resources. It is a wetland of international importance that has been proclaimed an
‘Internationally Important Bird Area’. The SNP experience is unique in the sense that it offers
solitude and untouched nature.
The SNP has potential in attracting market segments that have a low impact and a relatively
high yield and are therefore in line with the perceptions stakeholders have of the ‘ideal’
tourist. However, the SNP is constricted from becoming a primary international destination as
it is situated in the rather ‘unknown’ Baltic States, is very vulnerable, provides a limited
destination mix and lacks competitiveness. But in the end, being a primary international
destination wouldn’t be suitable for the SNP, as one of the aspects that make this NP unique is
its untouched nature and the silence and solitude one can encounter; the SNP experience
                                              II

would be spoiled by an amounting number of tourists and a high level of facilities.
Nevertheless, if facilities are improved, the SNP might have a chance to become a primary
destination for domestic tourists.

Recommendation for future research and a sustainable tourism development of the SNP are
given in the following:

   Future research
Some angles of this research haven’t been fully explored due to various limitations.
Therefore, recommendations for future research are the following:
   o Conducting market research of existing markets to the SNP in order to be aware of the
       existing tourism demand in the NP. Information on the existing tourism demand can
       be used in order to analyse behaviours of the market and forecast trends and
       developments. Market research gives the opportunity to detect and react to market
       trends and developments at an early stage. Moreover, it serves as a tool to determine
       the needs and wants of the existing markets and thereby offers the possibility to
       respond to them.
   o Keeping an eye on general tourism trends is furthermore a forecasting tool. Tourism
       trends give insight into changes in behaviour of the market and indicate the main
       desires, needs and wants of the market. When it comes to product development,
       market trends can serve as mean to show what products could be profitable in terms of
       corresponding to market trends.
   o Last but not least, conducting regular meetings with all stakeholders of the NP and
       researching their opinions and ideas supports their cooperation and is important for a
       sustainable approach. This research assignment was conducted in a limited time period
       and therefore solely reflects the opinions and perceptions of a restricted number of
       stakeholders. Involving all stakeholders and determining which are important for a SD
       could be necessary.

   Sustainable tourism development
In order to prepare for a STD, the following recommendations for improvements are
suggested.
   o One single body should be responsible for the management of the NP. In this case
       stakeholders would know exactly whom to contact regarding issues concerning the
       SNP.
   o Destination management is important in order to enhance the cooperation between
       stakeholders. An entrepreneur has to know about the expertise of the other
       entrepreneurs in order to recommend them to tourists. Through cooperation or
       working in joint ventures, one tourist can be profitable to various tourism
       entrepreneurs (e.g. TOs, accommodation providers).
   o The local population has to be informed about tourism and its impacts. Possibilities for
       local people to get involved in the industry should be offered in form of trainings and
       workshops.
   o Locals interested in involving in tourism have to be made aware that tourism primarily
       takes place on a seasonal basis. The tourism season could be expanded to the shoulder
       season, if appropriate products and services are offered. Generally though, the SNP
       will never become a year- round destination due to harsh conditions and
       inaccessibility. Locals therefore have to be able to plan whether they are in need of
       other sources of income during the low season.
                                           III

o Visitor management is very important as the SNP is a vulnerable destination. In order
  to protect the natural environment, tourism supply in form of trails is of great
  relevance in order to control the visitor flows. Furthermore, monitoring tourism
  impacts and implementing zoning is important to protect the environment, especially
  extremely vulnerable areas, like e.g. breeding places. Interpretational means are
  relevant to initiate understanding of the tourists and can support that tourists stick to
  codes of conduct. Controlling and limiting the number of tourists to the SNP is also
  important so that the sense of place doesn’t get lost.
o A demand- oriented approach gives a better understanding of the needs and wants of
  tourists and thereby helps in building relationships, stimulating repeat visits and
  establishing a stronger competitive position on the market.
o The Visitor Centre should be a marketing tool and give a detailed overview of what
  activities can be undertaken in the SNP and which sites offer which features or
  activities.
o Means of interpretation that appeal to all senses should be enhanced in the Visitor
  Centre and in the other elements of the destination mix of the SNP in order to inform
  tourist about the natural and cultural resources of the NP and make it more interesting
  and appealing. Enhanced interpretation should also be implemented by tourism
  entrepreneurs as it can help the tourist understand the importance of conserving the
  great variety of fauna and flora in the NP. Furthermore, interpretational means can
  enhance the visitors experience and therefore his satisfaction by creating a sense of
  place.
o The SNP should be marketed as an international important wetland which is
  recognised as an IIBA. Offering tours that appeal to bird- watchers could be profitable.
o Putting focus on giving the tourism products a cultural angle would broaden the
  product range, which might lead to a greater tourist satisfaction and could attract new
  market segments.
o Package tours that take 5 to 10 days increase the length of stay of tourists and thereby
  enhance the tourism expenditure in the SNP should be offered.
o Appealing to school classes would be a possibility to attract part of the domestic
  market and spread a greater awareness in regards to the importance of conserving
  natural and cultural resources.
o Public bus lines should be improved to and from the NP (especially during the tourism
  season) in order to give both locals and tourists the possibility to get in and out of the
  NP without having to use a car. This would lead to an increasing number of tourists
  coming to the SNP, that don’t have an own or rented car at hand. Furthermore, it
  would reduce the amount of exhaust fumes in the SNP by decreasing the number of
  individual cars driving through the NP.
                                              IV


Preface
It was clear to me from the very beginning that I wanted to write my thesis for a
commissioner. I wished it to be of use to someone and didn’t want to end up shoving it into
the bottom drawer of my desk after having worked on it for a whole semester. After a fairly
long period of struggling to find a commissioner and decide upon a thesis topic, I consulted
Niek Beunders, one of my lecturers at the time. I knew that, as a consultant, he has a lot of
contacts in the field of sustainable tourism and therefore I hoped that a possible thesis topic
might come up.
To my luck, the Soomaa National Park in Estonia reacted to his request. The initial contact
was soon established and I finally settled for a thesis assignment.

Apart from doing desk research I was welcomed in the Soomaa National Park in order to
conduct a four-week fieldwork. It was a whole new experience for me as I had spent most of
my life living south of the equator. The amounts of snow turned the National Park into a
winter wonderland and the kindness and warmth of the locals was very comforting, especially
during such a cold time of year.

Being there and talking to the stakeholders made me realize how important every single
opinion is and that in order to initiate sustainable development, cooperation is indispensable.

I truly enjoyed working on this research assignment and hope that I managed to reflect that in
the following chapters.
                                               V


Acknowledgements

After having worked on my final bachelor thesis for a semester, I’m happy and relived to have
finally finished it. This research assignment has been a great and enriching experience for me
and I especially enjoyed the wonderful time I spent on fieldwork in the Soomaa National
Park.

A very special thanks goes to my supervisor Niek Beunders, who has supported me a lot
throughout my final thesis assignment. He has been a great motivator and helped me very
much with his critical advice and feedback.
Furthermore, I’d like to thank my commissioners, the Soomaa National Park and the PAN
Parks network, for giving me this opportunity to gain experience. I very much appreciate the
kindness and assistance of Murel Merivee and Rait Parts, who enabled me to get in contact
with various stakeholders during the fieldwork and served as translators when necessary.
Also, I would like to thank all the stakeholders that took the time to answer all my questions!
Last but not least, I’d like to thank my friend and travel partner Christina for her company and
support as well as the excellent time we spent in the Soomaa National Park.


TÄNAN VÄGA!
                                             VI


Table of contents

Executive summary                                         I
Preface                                                   IV
Acknowledgements                                          V
Table of contents                                         VI
List of abbreviations                                     VIII
List of visual materials                                  IX


1. Chapter – Introduction to the subject                1-3
   1.1. Introduction                                     1
   1.2. Commissioners                                    1
   1.3. Thesis assignment                                1
   1.4. Research definition                              2
         1.4.1. Research objectives                      2
         1.4.2. Research questions                       2
   1.5. Research methods                                 2
         1.5.1. Desk research                            3
         1.5.2. Field research                           3
           1.5.2.1.   Qualitative research               3
         1.5.3. Limitations                              3


2. Chapter – Theoretical Framework                      4 - 20
   2.1. Introduction                                      4
   2.2. Definition of protected areas                     4
   2.3. Definition of sustainable development             5
   2.4. Sustainable development in protected areas        6
   2.5. Definition of sustainable tourism development     7
   2.6. Definition of tourism potential                   9
   2.7. Marketing                                         14
         2.7.1. Definition of marketing                   14
         2.7.2. Marketing concepts                        15
   2.8. Conceptual Framework                              19
   2.9. Conclusion                                        20


3. Chapter – Background analysis                        21 - 34
   3.1. Introduction                                      21
   3.2. Estonia                                           21
   3.3. The Soomaa National Park                          23
         3.3.1. Natural resources                         23
         3.3.2. Cultural resources                        24
   3.4. PAN Parks                                         26
   3.5. Tourism as economic activity                      27
         3.5.1. Tourism in Estonia                        27
         3.5.2. Tourism in the region                     32
         3.5.3. Tourism in the Soomaa National Park       32
   3.6. Conclusion                                        34
                                          VII



4. Chapter – Stakeholder analysis                                              35 - 47
   4.1. Introduction                                                             35
   4.2. Stakeholder audit                                                        35
         4.2.1. Management boards                                                36
         4.2.2. Counties connected to the Soomaa National Park                   37
         4.2.3. Municipalities connected to the Soomaa National Park             38
         4.2.4. NGOs of the region                                               40
         4.2.5. Tourism boards                                                   41
         4.2.6. Tour operators in and around the Soomaa National Park            42
         4.2.7. Accommodation providers in and around the Soomaa National Park   44
   4.3. Interview results                                                        46
   4.4. Conclusion                                                               47


5. Chapter – Tourism potential of the Soomaa National Park                     48 - 68
   5.1. Introduction                                                             48
   5.2. Existing tourism supply                                                  48
   5.3. Existing tourism demand                                                  50
   5.4. Competitiveness                                                          50
   5.5. Current trends in tourism                                                52
   5.6. Potential markets                                                        56
   5.7. Possible product-market combinations                                     61
   5.8. Conclusion                                                               67


6. Chapter – Conclusions and recommendations                                   68 - 72
   6.1. Introduction                                                             68
   6.2. Conclusions                                                              68
   6.3. Recommendations                                                          71


List of sources                                                                  73
Appendices                                                                       76
                                        VIII


List of abbreviations

CC:               Carrying Capacity
IIBA:             Internationally Important Bird Area
IUCN:             International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources,
                  also referred to as World Conservation Union
NGO:              Non- governmental Organisation
NP:               National Park
PA:               Protected Area
PAN Parks:        Protected Area Network
PMC:              Product- Market Combination
SD:               Sustainable Development
SNP:              Soomaa National Park
ST:               Sustainable Tourism
STD:              Sustainable Tourism Development
STDS:             Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy
TEV:              Total Economic Value
TO:               Tour Operator
USP:              Unique Selling Point
UNEP:             United Nations Environment Programme
WTO:              World Tourism Organisation
WTTC:             World Travel and Tourism Council
WWF:              World Wildlife Fund for Nature
                                          IX


List of visual materials

List of models
Model I            Tourism potential                                                10


List of tables
Table I            The destination mix                                              11
Table II           Arrival at accommodation establishments                          30
Table III          Domestic and foreign tourists 2003 – 2008                        34


List of maps
Map I              The Soomaa National Park in Estonia                              21
Map II             The counties the Soomaa National Park is situated in             22
Map III            The municipalities the Soomaa National Park is situated in       22


List of diagrams
Diagram I          Travel services and passenger transport in Estonia - A balance of
                   payments 1995 - 2007                                              28
Diagram II         Overnights of foreign tourists at accommodation establishments
                   in Estonia by region 1995 – 2006                                  29
Diagram III        Overnights of domestic tourists at accommodation establishments
                   in Estonia by region 1995 – 2006                                  30
Diagram IV         Foreign tourists at accommodation establishments in Estonia by
                   country of residence 1995 – 2006                                  31
Diagram V          Arrival of foreign visitors in Estonia 1995 – 2006                32
Diagram VI         Visitors of the Soomaa National Park 2007                         33
Diagram VII        International tourism arrivals 1997                               52
                                                           1

1. Chapter – Introduction to the subject
    1.1. Introduction
This chapter gives an overview of the thesis that was written for the Soomaa National Park
(SNP) in Estonia from January till May 2009. It includes general information about the
research area and the commissioners SNP and the Protected Area Network (PAN Parks). The
intention of the research is elucidated through an analysis of the current situation and the
description of the thesis assignment. Furthermore, research questions are presented and the
goals and objectives are clarified. Finally, the research methods are explained and limitations
are given.

   1.2. Commissioners
The SNP is the commissioner and PAN Parks is the co-commissioner of this research. These
two bodies stand in relation as the SNP is currently in the process of verification to become a
member of PAN Parks. Entering this network will help the park in gaining international
awareness and recognition. In the long run, the SNP will achieve effective conservation by
focussing on management effectiveness and socio-economic benefits.

    1.3. Thesis assignment
The overall thesis assignment is the assessment of the sustainable tourism potential of the
SNP in Estonia. It is a research study that aims at determining potential product- market
combinations that stand in line with conservation and at the same time generate tourism
income. Marketing concepts will be proposed in order to promote the products of the SNP to
suitable market segments.

All in all, this research assignment will support the sustainable tourism development (STD) of
the SNP by offering new product ideas and marketing opportunities. It furthermore
contributes to the Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy (STDS) the SNP is developing
in order to fulfil the preconditions for becoming a member of PAN Parks.

The STDS is a strategy that is developed and implemented in cooperation of the Protected
Area Authority and important stakeholders in the region of the PAN Park. Together these
bodies aim at creating a synergy between the conservation of natural values and sustainable
tourism1. “A Local PAN Park Group is set up and assumes responsibility for formulating,
implementing, and monitoring STDS and executes verification of the business partners”2. The
strategy “should strongly focus on setting clear objectives for economic benefits and the role
of tourism as a catalyst for sustainable development”3.
There are ten criteria for a STDS. First of all, the strategy is demand-driven, as it is “based on
a realistic analysis of the tourism potential”. Secondly, a background and resource analysis
has to make the STDS adapt to the characteristics and challenges of the region. Then, the
stakeholders should support the STDS. These will be further assessed in a stakeholder audit.
Furthermore, the needs of the area and the needs of the market have to be in line in the
tourism vision. Moreover, the vision has to be realistic and ready for implementation. An
appropriate monitoring system has to be at hand as the strategy has to monitor and manage the
tourism impacts. In general, the strategy embodies economic, social, ecological and marketing
objectives of the destination. It also aims at “quality, distinctiveness and competitiveness” and
strives to meet the criteria set for sustainability. Overall, the strategy is well- structured,
convincing and realistic, defining the key terms4.

1
  PAN Parks Supervisory Board, PAN Parks Verification Manual - Principles and Criteria 4, January 2006
2
  Id.
3
  Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Lecture on STDS, 2008
4
  Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Lecture on STDS, 2008
                                               2

    1.4. Research definition
        1.4.1. Research objectives
The overall objective of this research is to determine the tourism potential of the SNP and to
propose marketing opportunities for the STDS of the park.
Looking at the main objective in more detail, further objectives contributing to the main
objective can be determined. One of these is to get a picture of the SNP, its stakeholders and
their interplay. The gaining of this information is relevant for an understanding of the
background of the destination and the roles of the stakeholders. In this sense, an additional
objective is to determine the perceptions, ideas and visions of the various stakeholders in
order to find discrepancies and common denominators. Choosing a stakeholder approach
serves as mean to obtain many opinions on the issues that are dealt with at the destination.
These opinions give different angles and perspectives on the issues and can generate new
ideas. Furthermore, it is important to keep all stakeholders informed on things happening at
the destination in order to minimize conflicts. Working jointly is of great importance,
especially when it comes to working on a bottom-up approach of the SNP. The objective is to
use the derived information of in-depth interviews with stakeholders in order to create a basis
for the development of PMCs.

       1.4.2. Research questions
       Which theoretical framework is relevant for this research?
       What is the context and background of this research?
       Who are the stakeholders and what are their roles, opinions and interests?
       What is the tourism potential of the Soomaa National Park?
       What recommendations can be given for future sustainable tourism development of
       the Soomaa National Park?


    1.5. Research methods
First of all, a background and context analysis as well as a theoretical framework will provide
the groundwork for the thesis. The roles, interests and expectations of stakeholders will be
determined via qualitative research during the fieldwork and will be assembled in a
stakeholder matrix as well as incorporated in the strategy in the end. The various opinions of
the stakeholders will give input to the process of creating new product ideas for the SNP.
Additionally they will help in detecting which markets would be desirable to attract to the
park.
These steps provide essential information for the development of product- market
combinations. Potential products of the park will be developed and suitable markets will be
determined according to research in relation to current market trends and developments. The
PMC suggestions will be based on the determined needs and objectives of the stakeholders.

Two different research methods will be used for writing the thesis. First of all, desk or
secondary research will be conducted, which is followed by field research.
                                                             3

        1.5.1. Desk research
As defined by Hollensen, desk or secondary research stands for “information that has already
been collected for other purposes and thus is readily available”5. Therefore this type of
research will be conducted in order to gain an understanding of the area and the existing
problems. Also, desk research will determine current tourism flows and trends which could
impact on the tourism development of the SNP. The study of literature related to tourism
potential and marketing will take place during the first research phase. Information can be
obtained in form of books, articles, statistics, blogs and various reports of research institutes.
During the months of January and February, this type of research will primarily be used, as it
gives a good knowledge basis for the field research that will follow.


       1.5.2. Field research
The “information that is collected first-hand, generated by original research tailor-made to
answer specific research questions”6 can be referred to as primary research data. During this
process, qualitative as well as quantitative research will be utilized.

            1.5.2.1.    Qualitative research
“Qualitative research provides a holistic view of a research problem by integrating a larger
number of variables, but asking only a few respondents”7. Qualitative research will take place
during the field research. In this case, the management and employees of the SNP, local
entrepreneurs as well as members of counties, municipalities and NGOs in the region will be
talked to during in-depth interviews. Their opinions, impressions and expectations will be
filtered out during in-depth interviews and discussions.


        1.5.3. Limitations
Concerning this research, some limitations are given. First of all, it will be difficult to get a
clear picture of the markets to Estonia, as a lot of relevant information is given in Estonian.
Moreover, the field research is taking place during the transition from winter to spring and
comprises five weeks only. The research results during this season might differ from other
seasons and the short duration of the field trip will make the observation relatively narrow.
Tourism numbers will be limited during the timeframe of the field trip and as visitors to the
SNP are primarily domestic, the results from surveys would be rather insignificant for this
research assignment which mainly aims at attracting foreign markets to the park.




5
  Hollensen, S., Global Marketing – A decision- oriented approach, Pearson Education Limited, 4th Edition, 2007, p. 155
6
  Id., p. 155
7
  Id., p. 161
                                                            4

2. Chapter – Theoretical Framework
    2.1. Introduction
The research question ‘Which theoretical framework is relevant for this research?’ is dealt
with in this chapter. A theoretical background on which the thesis can be built is of great
importance. It helps generate an understanding of relevant theories and makes the research
assignment attestable.
At first, protected areas (PAs) are defined and the complexity of sustainable development
(SD) is discussed, leading over to indicators of sustainable tourism development (STD).
Moreover, the term tourism potential is explained and a definition of marketing is given.
Afterwards, various marketing concepts are stated and explained. In the end, the relationships
between the various elements of the thesis are depicted in the conceptual framework.


    2.2. Definition of protected areas
“A protected area is defined as an area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the
protection and maintenance of biological diversity and of natural and associated cultural
resources, managed through legal or other effective means”8. Momentarily 13% of the land
surface of the planet is covered by protected areas9. In general, they support species
conservation and the maintenance of ecosystems, but also provide an array of natural
resources. PAs are recognized on an international basis; though every country has a different
system according to varying rules and regulations, financial means and national priorities. A
broad range of different types of PAs exists, which vary according to the management
objectives and the degree of protection10.
PAs sometimes still provide natural products and are home to local communities that are
rooted to the area through their history, lifestyle and culture. The goods and services of PAs
often include “recreation and tourism, plant and wildlife habitat, genetic resources, water
supply, protection against natural disasters, and so on”11.

Management plans for PAs are of great importance in order to secure the well being of its
resources. As a PA often has various objectives, multiple stakeholders and therefore possibly
conflicting opinions as well as institutional structures and barriers, composing an efficient
management plan can be challenging12. The main challenges PAs are facing often involve
increasing urbanisation, migration, population growth, increasing demand for natural
resources, growing fragmentation of natural landscapes, climate change as well as the
spreading of invasive alien species13. If these factors aren’t controlled and managed, they can
cause great damage to the PA.




8
  United Nations Environment Programme, Protected Areas Worldwide, http://www.unep-
wcmc.org/protected_areas/protected_areas.htm, 27.04.09
9
  IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, WCPA Strategic Plan 2005-
2012, p. 3
10
   United Nations Environment Programme, Protected Areas Worldwide, http://www.unep-
wcmc.org/protected_areas/protected_areas.htm, 27.04.09
11
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Best practice protected area guidelines series No. 2, Economic values of protected
areas – Guidelines for protected area managers, 1998, p.11
12
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, Best practice protected area
guidelines series No. 10, Guidelines for management planning of protected areas, 2003, p.3
13
    InterEnvironment, California Institute of Public Affairs, Global urbanization and protected areas – Challenges and
opportunities posed by a major factor of global change and creative ways of responding, 2007, p.35; IUCN – The World
Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, WCPA Strategic Plan 2005- 2012, p.5
                                                           5

    2.3. Definition of sustainable development
In the 1980s it became clear that the globe faces major environmental changes that scientists
hadn’t predicted. Since then, the awareness of how human activities impact on the global
environment grew and the consciousness of the risks associated with this increased. It was at
this point, when it was apparent that essential changes would have to be made, that the
concept of SD emerged14.
In the year 1987 the concept of SD was first reported on by the ‘World Commission on
Environment and Development’. SD was defined as “development that meets the needs of the
present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”15. The
term ‘sustainable development’ made clear that the “ecological, cultural and socio-economic
resources of this planet that mankind can make use of, are scarce and unique” and therefore “a
sustainable use of resources is necessary, using them without consuming them, in order to
conserve these resources for generations to come”16.

Various key principles for a SD exist. One of the key principles is ‘inter-generational equity’,
which means that “the range of activities and the scope of ecological diversity available to
future generations is at least as broad as that felt by current ones”17. Furthermore the term
‘intra-generational equity, social justice and poverty alleviation’ reflects the basic requirement
that sustainability should be self-sustaining in the sense that the productivity and quality of
life of local communities should be improved. Moreover, ‘public participation’ stands for the
fact that everyone has a responsibility and that cooperation is of great importance. “People
have basic human rights and freedoms to participate in the political, economic, social, and
environmental spheres of their communities and societies”18. Also, the principle of
‘environmental protection’ is of great importance. Risky and uncertain situations have to be
dealt with carefully in order to outgo environmental impacts that have not been foreseen. It
should be made sure that the carrying capacity (CC) is not exceeded in order not to
overexploit natural resources. Additionally, the “use of renewable resources at a rate equal to
or less than the natural rate of regeneration”19 is significant. And, accountability is of
importance in the sense that standards for SD have to be set and that it is essential to control
and monitor the development.
Extensive models and concepts of sustainability are often structured according to the
economic, socio-cultural and ecological environment20, which is also referred to as triple
bottom line. Social and cultural sustainability “ensures that development increases people’s
control over their lives, is compatible with the culture and values of people affected by it, and
maintains and strengthens community identity”. Economic sustainability “ensures that
development is economically efficient and that resources are managed so that they can
support future generations” while ecological sustainability “ensures that development is
compatible with the maintenance of essential ecological processes, biological diversity and
biological resources”21.



14
   The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Sustainable tourism development -
Guiding principles for planning and management, November 2003, p.2
15
   Id., p.3
16
   Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Resources for sustainable development, 2008
17
   The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Sustainable tourism development -
Guiding principles for planning and management, November 2003, p.3
18
   Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Introductory lecture, September 2008
19
   The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Sustainable tourism development -
Guiding principles for planning and management, November 2003, p.3
20
   Mowforth, Martin and Munt, Ian, ‘Tourism and sustainability’, Second edition: ‘Development and new tourism in the
Third World’, 2003, p.82; Bieger, Thomas, Tourismuslehre – Ein Grundriss, Germany 2004, p.280
21
   Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, 10 criteria for sustainable development, 2008
                                                            6

“Participatory monitoring and evaluation is an umbrella term for a set of new approaches that
stress the importance of taking local people’s perspectives into account and giving them a
greater say in planning and managing the evaluation process”22. Local people, community
organisations as well as NGOs and other stakeholders cooperate in decision making. They
work together in order to achieve the objectives that have been decided on and support each
other. It is important to strive for the same goals as one unity and represent the destination as
a whole. In this sense, a bottom-up approach is a “consultative leadership style that promotes
employee participation at all levels in decision making and problem solving”23. This type of
approach can be applied to different contexts and is chosen for this research, as it encourages
creativity and flexibility of involved stakeholders. The motivation to work is stimulated
because input and ideas of all team members is appreciated. Also, planning and organisational
issues are dealt with faster as a number of people are involved24.

     The concepts and approaches concerned with SD are of relevance to this research because
     due to the fact that the SNP is a relatively untouched destination, it has great potential for
     a SD. In order to create local benefits and sustainable livelihoods, a bottom-up approach
     to the developments within the SNP is of great importance. Furthermore, as the SNP is a
     very vulnerable destination, it is important that its CC is not exceeded. Focussing on the
     economic, socio- cultural and ecological sustainability is indispensable when it comes to
     conserving its resources for generations to come.


    2.4. Sustainable development in protected areas
As conservation goals are dependent on a sustainable use of resources at the community level
in order to avoid straining the natural resources, a SD at a local or regional level is of great
importance.
The key concept of SD is the linking of conservation and development. The fact that PAs
embody economic values represents a great pressure on them. The solution is to create win-
win situations and operating the economic values in a sustainable way is therefore very
important. Managing a PA partly from an entrepreneurial and private sector angle can be very
profitable for conservational means. The PA can be supported in selling “goods and services
in a way that will strengthen the ability of the PA to support the conservation of biodiversity
and sustainable use of natural resources”25.
Regarding SD in PA, in many countries the attractions in form of natural features that PAs
have to offer, have become the basis of tourism and recreation.
The primary goal of a PA is not promoting tourism for the economy; it rather stands in
relation to conserving the biodiversity and species of the area and providing rich natural
resources which enable “scientists, educators and the community at large to meet their various
needs”26. As the tourism income doesn’t support PAs enough to sustain them, “society,
through its various levels of government, must provide environmental protection as a public
service in the same manner that it provides health, education, defence and legal systems”27.


22
   Evaluating socio-economic development, Sourcebook 2: Methods and Techniques, Participatory approaches and methods,
, December 2003, p.1
23
   BNET Business Dictionary, Bottom- up approach, http://dictionary.bnet.com/definition/bottom-up+approach.html,
15.03.09
24
   Filev, Andrew, Get maximum benefits of merging top- down and bottom- up project management,
http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/get-maximum-benefits-of-merging-top-down-and-bottom-up-project-management.html,
20.03.09
25
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Best practice protected area guidelines series No. 2, Economic values of protected
areas – Guidelines for protected area managers, 1998, p.10
26
   Id., p. ix
27
   Id., p. ix
                                                            7

The welfare of a community is focused on by the public policy, and economists have worked
on making PAs benefit the wellbeing of communities. Through the establishment of a PA,
communities have reduced access to natural resources and economic benefits for communities
compensate for this. “The current political process largely focuses, however, on the economy
and monetary returns”28. It has been determined though, that PAs often embody considerable
‘revenue-earning entities’ and therefore are able to contribute essentially to local economies.
For this reason, it has become apparent that investing in PAs can lead to great economic
benefit of local communities and even nations. PAs “represent an opportunity for sustainable
industries and for the generation of financial returns”29. The products and services, which can
generate profits to the PA, are classified under the concept of ‘total economic value’ (TEV).
This means that if a PA and its products and services are well managed, then these products
and services can be sold to various tourists. As the selling of the products and services
wouldn’t lead to a reduction of their value, the revenues can be maintained over long periods
of time, benefiting various stakeholders and can be implemented in order to conserve the PA.


    2.5. Sustainable tourism development
Sustainable tourism development (STD) aims at satisfying the needs of both locals and
tourists while protecting the environment for the future. It should “make optimal use of
environmental resources”, “respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities” and
“ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic – fairly distributed
- benefits to all stakeholders”30.

“Tourism is most ideally suited to adopt sustainability as a guiding philosophy”31. For one
reason, tourism doesn’t consume “non-renewal resources”; it is primarily based on non-
consumptive use of natural and cultural resources. Moreover, the main resources of interest to
tourists stand in relation to the resources of communities, like e.g. their culture, traditions and
recreational facilities. It also offers economic opportunities to locals; it increases local
income, creates employment and initiates regional development. Also, tourism can “provide
an economic incentive to conserve natural and cultural assets” and “revitalize cultures and
traditions”32. By being an alternative to for example logging, it can mitigate the impacts
economic activities can have. “The landscapes of protected areas should be separated from the
harmful industrial world and circumstances need to be created, which retain ecosystems as
they are supposed to be. Apart from this, the purpose of a national park is to show these
circumstances to the people, so they can get in touch with them and learn from them”33.
Experiences and education that make tourists understand the values of their environment are
therefore one of the main benefits of tourism in PA.

“The growth of interest in sustainable tourism (ST) and ecotourism reflects a rising tide of
social concern about the quality of the natural environment and the effects of tourism.
Activities closely associated with experiencing natural environments are very popular”34.

28
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Best practice protected area guidelines series No. 2, Economic values of protected
areas – Guidelines for protected area managers, 1998, p. ix
29
   Id., p. x
30
   Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Introductory lecture, September 2008
31
   The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Sustainable tourism development -
Guiding principles for planning and management, November 2003, p.3
32
   Id., p.4
33
   Obenhaus, Stephan, Ecotourism- Sustainable tourism in National Parks and Protected Areas, Banff National Park in
Canada and Nationalpark Gesäuse in Austria – a comparison, Sept.2005, p.36
34
   Tourism Canada, 1995 in IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas,
Best practice protected area guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and
management, 2002, p.13
                                                           8

This tendency can be linked to various changes in society which will be further elucidated in
5.4. If tourism at a destination is well planned and managed it can be sustainable, disregarding
whether small- scale or large- scale tourism is taking place. Furthermore, the sustainability of
tourism doesn’t only depend on whether the tourists are environmentally aware or not. It is
rather a question of how the sustainable tourism products are sold. “If expectations and
preferences of tourists are met through the provision of a quality experience, with the needs of
the local environment and community taken into account, there is no specific need for a
‘sustainable tourism product’ to be labelled and sold as such”35. “Whilst this might require a
‘redefinition’ of the form and objectives of sustainable tourism, there is no doubt that its
future lies in a broad approach, the fundamental basis of which must be the satisfaction of
consumer needs”36.

In the nineteenth century, the development of PAs started and towards the end of the
twentieth century, the “explosive growth of national parks, game reserves, nature reserves and
other protective forms came about”37. A great contributing factor to this development was
tourism.
Depending on the PA, tourism can make up a large part of the local income. “Protected areas
are established primarily to preserve some type of biophysical process or condition such as a
wildlife population, habitat, natural landscape, or cultural heritage such as a community’s
cultural tradition”38 and tourists visit the PA in order to apprehend and experience the “values
for which the area was established and to gain personal benefits”39.
Increasing economic opportunities, enhancing the quality of life of all involved and protecting
the natural and cultural values of the PA, is the primary aim of tourism planning and
development. This is partly done by making use of the interest in the PA that tourists show.
Tourists enhance the economic activities at a destination and, if tourism is planned and
developed in a sustainable way, an increasing number of tourists at a destination can lead to a
higher local income. An increased income and an amounting number of jobs can often be
rated through tourism. In order to achieve economic benefits via tourism, spending
opportunities like products and services must be offered to tourists. Furthermore, minimizing
the leakages out of the local area is important40.

Enhancing the quality of life of the local people involves the development of facilities and
services which not only benefit the tourists, but also improve the local living conditions.
“Tourism development should be designed to protect what is good about a host community
and tackle those aspects that need to be improved”41.

Last but not least, tourism in PAs can be “a key factor in supporting the conservation of the
natural and cultural heritage”42. Funds can be obtained via entrance or service fees as well as
local taxes or other means. These funds can then be implemented to cover the costs of
maintenance and conservation. As many PAs encompass significant cultural resources,
tourism can also contribute to protecting the cultural heritage. The fact that tourists often look
35
   Van Egmond, Ton, Understanding the Tourist Phenomenon – An analysis of ‘west’ – ‘south’ tourism, Aug. 05, p.12
36
   Sharpley and Sharpley, 1997 in Van Egmond, Ton, Understanding the Tourist Phenomenon – An analysis of ‘west’ –
‘south’ tourism, Aug. 05, p. 12
37
   Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, Second Edition, 2005, p.139
38
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, Best practice protected area
guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and management, 2002, p.23
39
   Id., p.23
40
   WTO (1999) in IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, Best practice
protected area guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and management,
2002, p.26
41
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, Best practice protected area
guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and management, 2002, p.29
42
   Id., p.27
                                                               9

for authentic experiences might support local communities in keeping up their traditions and
customs. Tourism can show to locals that a PA is beneficial to their economies and their
quality of life. Conserving the PA pays off, as tourism can sustain the conservation economy
at a local, regional and maybe national level.

Different activities are offered by PAs and appeal to various types of tourists. The main
activities which can be undertaken in PAs involve hiking and walking, scenery viewing as
well as animal spotting. As urbanization increases, PAs often serve as means for people to
escape from the cities and hectic lifestyles to a quiet and natural environment. As PAs are
vulnerable and often exposed to amounting numbers of visitors, monitoring visitor flows is
important in order to keep the PA healthy and maintain its uniqueness and biodiversity.

Developing ST is relevant for PAs as it means that the tourism activities are well regulated
and planned in the long-term in order to develop tourism in line with environmental, social
and economic activities.

     Regarding the SNP, aiming at a STD would result in a better monitoring system within
     the park, which would lead to a greater awareness of tourism impacts. Better planning and
     cooperation of the various stakeholders would moreover be a result of sustainable tourism
     development. Furthermore, the local economy could be increasingly stimulated through
     tourism and conservational means could be supported with the tourism income.



    2.6. Definition of tourism potential
The term ‘tourism potential’ exists since 1994, when it was established to determine
opportunities, in form of tourism businesses as well as increased marketing and product
development, in order to make the tourism industry grow43.
‘Potential’ generally stands for “all the possible features and benefits that could be wanted by
customers”44. As different customers have varying needs and demands, developing a product
that has all required features to satisfy different customers is improbable. Therefore, doing
market research helps managers in determining which products appeal to and have potential
for which market segments. The tourism potential of a destination is thereby dependent on the
target markets.

The components of the tourism potential of a destination are the tourism supply and the
tourism demand. Furthermore, the competitive environment of a destination forms an element
in the assessment of the tourism potential. By considering these components, the
competitiveness of the destination can be analysed in relation to other destinations and
opportunities for product development can be determined.

As will be seen in 5.5, destinations with a high value of nature are becoming increasingly
popular and often have great potential for STD if tourism is planned, developed and managed
appropriately. Though, assessing the tourism potential beforehand is essential as factors like
e.g. the lack of distinctive features or the remoteness of the destination might indicate a low
tourism potential.




43
     Tourism potential – research and development in tourism, http://www.tourism-potential.com.au/, 27.04.09
44
     Blythe, Jim, Essentials of marketing, FT Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2005, p.317
                                                           10

The main focus of assessing the tourism potential of a PA lies on whether the PA could
benefit from tourism as a tool for conservation. Though, as the resources of a PA can be used
in various ways, tourism doesn’t necessarily have to be the best option for the PA and its
communities. But if so, it has to be planned and developed in a sustainable way. As
mentioned in 2.5, the main aim of tourism planning and development is to increase economic
opportunities, enhance the quality of life of all involved and protect the natural and cultural
values of the PA. Also, tourism often plays “an important preserving role in nature areas that
are not officially protected”45.
The following model depicts the angles that are of relevance when looking at the tourism
potential for STD of a PA.

Model I


                                                      Protected Area
                                                                                    Competitive Environment

                                                 Sustainable Development


                                             Sustainable Tourism Development

                            Tourism Supply                                       Tourism Demand


                                                 Opportunities for tourism
                                                  product development


                                                     Potential Markets


                                                    Tourism Potential


                                       Development of product- market combinations




    Tourism supply
The development of tourism at a destination is solely possible if a variety of products and
services are available at the destination. In order to receive tourists, these products and
services have to be appealing enough to attract tourists. As only the tourist himself can reveal
the true tourism potential of a destination, the tourism supply has to be determined from the
perspective of the tourist. Resources “form the unique capital or potential for development
that an area disposes of”. Doing a resource analysis helps developing a strategy for
sustainable regional development and gives “direct input for the assessment of the tourism
potential of the area”46. Evaluating the tourism potential of a destination is essential, as it
helps determine the competitiveness of the destination. Furthermore, it gives insight into
whether the destination is suitable for additional tourism development.

45
     Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, Second Edition, 2005, p.139
46
     Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Resources for sustainable development, 2008
                                                           11

The elements that are of relevance to tourists form the basis of the analysis of the tourism
supply of a destination. “The elements are interdependent because in order to produce a
satisfying vacation experience, all elements must be present”47. The competitiveness of a
destination and the stakeholders is based on the ‘interdependent elements’ and therefore on
the tourism supply of a destination.
Mill and Morrison have termed these interdependent elements, the ‘destination mix’. It is
composed of attractions, facilities, infrastructure, transportation and hospitality. Attractions
are the fundamental aspect when it comes to tourism. “The mere presence of facilities and
other services by themselves will not bring visitors. Attractions must be present for this to
occur”48. They “draw visitors from their homes”, while “facilities are necessary to serve these
visitors away from home”49. A destination can be either a primary or secondary destination.
“A primary destination is one that is attractive enough to be the primary motivation for
tourism visits and one that is aimed at satisfying visitors for several days or longer”50. A
secondary destination, which can also be referred to as a stopover destination “is either an
interesting or necessary place to visit on the way to a primary destination, and it aims at
satisfying visitors for one to two days”51. Some destinations can be both primary and
secondary destinations, depending on the market segment. At a primary destination, the range
of attractions has to be appealing enough for visitors to stay for a longer period of time. At a
secondary destination on the other hand, the breadth of attractions isn’t that important and the
length of stay of visitors is shorter. “From a marketing viewpoint, the primary destination or
attraction seeks fewer visitors staying longer periods of time, compared to the secondary
destination that relies on attracting larger numbers for shorter periods of time”52. While
primary destinations are focused on the markets and resources on site, secondary destinations
are dependent on their accessibility and transport possibilities.
Infrastructure and transportation are needed in order to make sure that the destination is
accessible to the visitor. And hospitality focuses on the “way in which services are delivered
to the visitor”53. It terms “the general feeling of welcome that visitors receive while at a
destination area”54. Like mentioned before, all elements must be present “in order to produce
a satisfying vacation experience”55.
Table I – The destination mix
     Attractions              Facilities           Infrastructure           Transportation              Hospitality
Natural resources       Accommodation             Water systems           Modes of transport to      Hospitality
                                                                          the destination            Training
Cultural resources      Food and beverage         Power systems           Modes of transport         Teaching specific
                                                                          within the destination     behaviours
Historical resources    Supporting facilities     Communication           Coordination of the        Community
                                                  means                   modes of travel            awareness
                                                                                                     programmes
Tourism products                                  Sewage/ drainage
and services
Ethnicity                                         Health care
Accessibility                                     Security systems
                                                                                              Source: Mill & Morrison, 2006




47
   Mill, Robert Christie & Morrison, Alastair M., The Tourism System, Kendall/ Hunt Publishing Company, Fifth Edition,
2006, p.18
48
   Id., p.23
49
   Id., p.18
50
   Id., p.18
51
   Id., p.18
52
   Id., p.18
53
   Id., p.29
54
   Id., p.29
55
   Id., p.18
                                                             12

    Tourism demand
“Balancing demand and supply in order to ensure profit maximization is one of the main
challenges of tourism managers”56. “As the tourism sector becomes more professional and
knowledge-based (…) the responsible consumption of demand, in other words, tourists
exercising their ‘right’ to travel but doing so in a ‘responsible’ way, will become increasingly
important if the integrity of destinations, environments and societies is to be preserved”57.
The advantages of a demand or market- oriented approach are a better comprehension of the
needs and wants of the tourists, the building of better relations to tourists, an enhanced
number of repeat visits and a stronger competitive position on the market. Generally,
“marketing is about providing products and services that meet customers’ needs, but it is also
important to do that better than your competitors”58. Therefore, a successful marketing
orientation “requires a focus on both customers and competitors”59.

In order to determine the tourism demand, it is important for the destination to know which
current markets exist and which are potential markets to the destination. Regarding the total
demand for tourism, there are three basic components. First of all, the ‘effective’ or ‘actual’
demand; this makes up the “actual number of participants in tourism or those who are
travelling”60. The second component of the total tourism demand is called the ‘suppressed’
demand. It “is made up of that section of the population who do not travel for some reason”61.
And thirdly, there is always the group of people that doesn’t desire to travel and thereby has
‘no demand’.

Drawing tourists to vulnerable PAs stresses the economic importance of tourism. With
amounting tourism activities, the expectations regarding the economic role of tourism at the
destination increase and it is relevant to target the right markets. Analysing the tourism market
potential is more than just a description of resources. It involves an analysis of the demand in
terms of number of arrivals of tourists, modes of arrival, types of accommodation and bed
nights, average length of stay, tourist expenditures and seasonality of tourism. Furthermore,
the tourist’s motivation, the tourists’ activities, lifestyles, experiences, satisfaction levels,
spending patterns as well as the types of tourists are analysed62.

    Competitive environment
“An area becomes competitive if it is able to face up to market competition whilst at the same
time ensuring environmental, social and cultural sustainability”63. This is termed ‘territorial
competitiveness’. It relates to SD and thereby plays a role when assessing the sustainable
tourism potential of an area.

Overall, three types of competitiveness exist that help identify the options for SD of a
destination. The economic competitiveness, which stands for the “ability to create and retain
maximum added value in the area by strengthening links between sectors and by turning their
combined resources into assets for enhancing the value and distinctiveness of their local
products and services”. Indicators for the economic competitiveness of an area are the
economic sectors, the rate of employment, the level of education and skills of the active

56
   Lominé, Loykie & Edmunds, James, Key concepts in tourism, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, p.45
57
   Cooper, Chris & Fletcher, John, Tourism principles and practice, FT Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2005, p.43
58
   Masterson, Rosalind & Pickton, David, Marketing – An introduction, McGraw-Hill Education, 2004, p.43
59
   Id., p.43
60
   Cooper, Chris & Fletcher, John, Tourism principles and practice, FT Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2005, p.39; Lominé,
Loykie & Edmunds, James, Key concepts in tourism, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, p. 45
61
   Lominé, Loykie & Edmunds, James, Key concepts in tourism, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, p. 45
62
   Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Lecture, Sustainable Tourism Demand, 2008
63
   Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Lecture, Resources for sustainable development, 2008
                                                           13

communities, the cooperation of the stakeholders, the opportunities and threats the destination
faces, the traditional activities taking place and the synergy or conflicts with tourism64.
The ecological competitiveness refers to the “ability of the players involved to make the most
of their environment by making it a ‘distinctive’ element of their area, whilst at the same time
ensuring that their natural resources and heritage are preserved and revitalized”. Indicators for
the competitiveness of the natural and cultural heritage of the destination are issues relating to
conservation, the potential for SD, the ecological carrying capacity and the synergy of tourism
and conservation65.
And, last but not least, the social competitiveness terms the “ability of the players involved to
act effectively together on the basis of shared conceptions about the project, and encouraged
by cooperation between the various institutional levels”66. Regarding the social
competitiveness, indicators encompass demographics, education, culture, governance, social
networks, values, hospitality, sense of place and the social carrying capacity of the
destination67.

When determining the competitiveness of an area and thinking of further STD, it is important
to determine its unique selling points (USPs), which will be explained further under 2.7.1, and
assess whether sufficient tourism potential exists at the destination. The question here is
whether the destination is unique and distinctive enough to appeal to the market. Furthermore,
it has to be regarded whether the CC and the sustainability of the resources of the area is
adequate for further tourism development. And then, it is also important to estimate whether
tourism fits in the overall picture and if it would be in line with other economic activities at
the destination. These processes are all important to consider when developing a STDS for an
area.

    Tourism potential of protected areas
Tourism might be desired in the PA, but, as mentioned earlier, the PA might lack
distinctiveness or competitiveness and therefore have limited tourism potential. If the tourism
potential of an area turns out to be limited, the development of tourism will be complicated.
Though, if the PA can provide a wide range of ecological goods and services to broad
spectrum of customers, the option to aim at a STD is present. But, as has been explained in
2.5, the economic role of tourism can be profitable to the conservation of the PA. The PA can
be supported in selling “goods and services in a way that will strengthen the ability of the PA
to support the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources”68.

In order for a PA to be successful, appropriate marketing is of great importance, as the
products and services of a PA often find themselves in a competitive market place, “facing a
complex array of customers who may wish to spend their limited funds elsewhere”69. The
potential customers of a PA are the ones that choose the destination, the local providers and
what goods and services of the PA they’d like to purchase. A market oriented approach to
tourism is therefore of great importance. A destination mustn’t necessarily offer unique
natural and cultural features, but a demand for what it really has to offer has to be existent in
order to initiate tourism development. Also, as the CC of natural areas is often limited while
the expectations on tourism income of locals are relatively high, it is important to target the
‘right’ market segments in order to achieve a sustainable growth.

64
   Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Lecture, Resources for sustainable development, 2008
65
   Id.
66
   Id.
67
   Id.
68
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Best practice protected area guidelines series No. 2, Economic values of protected
areas – Guidelines for protected area managers, 1998, p.10
69
   Id., p.8
                                                             14

    2.7. Marketing
        2.7.1. Definition of marketing
Marketing is a complex topic which can be laid out in various ways. The ‘Chartered Institute
of Marketing’ defines marketing as “the management process which identifies, anticipates and
satisfies customer requirements efficiently and profitably”. Another definition is given by the
‘American Marketing Association’. According to them, “marketing is the process of planning
and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution, of ideas, goods and
services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives”70. The first
definition is primarily related to management while the second definition tries to express a
balance between the company’s and the customers’ needs.

The concept of sustainable marketing is gaining in importance as it supports sustainable
development and because the interest in sustainability is increasing71. In general, it can be set
in line with relationship marketing, which is a “business approach that concentrates on the
long-term relationship between the firm and its stakeholders rather than on single
transactions”72. This concept can be set in relation to the importance for a destination of
focusing on the long-term value of a tourist. The main “purpose of the relationship marketing
philosophy is to ensure that customers come back, and keep coming back”73. The key is to
comprehend that tourists are “buying a bundle of benefits, some of which include such factors
as product reliability and a pleasant service”74. Overall, it is cheaper to concentrate on the
existing tourists rather than on attracting new ones.

Through growing globalisation and therefore the ability of tourists to access an increasing
amount of destinations, the competition of destinations on the global level has risen
immensely. A destination has to be distinct to its competitors in order to appeal to tourists.
The marketing of a destination is referred to as ‘destination marketing’. In order to market a
destination, its unique selling points (USPs) have to be emphasized. USPs are “the unique
resources and features that form the capital of the destination”75. These include the ‘hardware’
and the ‘software’ of the destination. The ‘hardware’ of a destination broadly encompasses its
natural and cultural resources, while the software generally stands in relation to the
hospitality, distinctiveness and atmosphere of the destination76. In order for a destination to be
attractive, distinctive and competitive, it is important that it offers a combination of USPs77.

The concept of ‘destination marketing’ stands in close relation to the image of a destination.
Marketing of destinations is a very difficult process because it doesn’t solely stand in relation
to the tangible and physical attributes of a destination, but also to the intangible social and
cultural factors. “Promotion of a destination is based on an image selected by the tourism
marketer and communicated to the generating markets”78. If a destination has once set its
brand and transmitted a unique image, then it has a relatively strong influence on the demand,
if problems e.g. in relation to price enhancements or crowdedness occur79. In order to market
a destination effectively, its ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ are very important.
70
   The American marketing association in Masterson, Rosalind & Pickton, David, Marketing – An introduction, McGraw-
Hill Education, 2004, p.7
71
   Tourism Canada, 1995 in IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas,
Best practice protected area guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and
management, 2002, p.13
72
   Blythe, Jim, Essentials of marketing, FT Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2005, p.338
73
    Id., p.321
74
    Id., p.310
75
   Barten, Christa, Course ST3, Lecture on sense of place, 2008
76
   Beunders, Niek, Lecture on tourism potential assessment, 2008
77
   Id.
78
   Cooper, Chris & Fletcher, John, Tourism principles and practice, FT Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2005, p.686
79
   Id., p.686- 687
                                                            15

       2.7.2. Marketing concepts
    Marketing strategy
Developing a marketing strategy involves a few steps. First of all, it is important to identify
the potential of the destination. Then, it is significant to research which suitable markets
would be attracted to the actual and potential products the destination has to offer. If products
are insufficient, the existing ones could be improved or new products developed. The next
step would be the determination of suitable target markets. After having determined suitable
market segments, it has to be determined by which means of promotion they can be reached.
These steps will be further elucidated in the following text.

     Product development
“New products do not have to be new inventions. Most new products are modifications of
previous offerings rather than new-to-the-world products”80. The core of every product is that
it should satisfy the need or want of a customer.
The product development process starts with the ‘idea stage’ in which product ideas are
generated. This mainly involves research or brainstorming. The second stage is the ‘concept
stage’ during which the concepts of the product ideas are developed. These are then
developed in the ‘product development stage’.

Generally, new products can be used to “increase or defend market share by offering more
choice within the range, or by updating older products”81. Furthermore, new products are
developed in order to attract new market segments, attract a diverse range of the market to
spread the risk of being dependent on one single market segment, and increase the reputation
of a destination. Also, it can tighten the relationships with distribution channels and lead to an
improved usage of resources.

     Regarding the SNP, the development of new products can diversify the product range of
     the SNP and therefore attract a wider scope of the market. Furthermore, the development
     of new products offers the SNP the opportunity to appeal to more suitable or desired
     market segments.


    Interpretation/ Sense of place
Interpretation can be used as a tool for product development. It is “an educational activity
which aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, first hand
experience and illustrative media, rather than simply by communicating factual
information”82. “Some of the most creative interpretation is barely recognized as such”83, as
interpretation can be both tangible and intangible. Some of the intangible means of
interpretation are e.g. the background music in a museum or the patterns on the floor, which
evoke emotions “of which the visitor may not consciously be aware”84. Tangible means of
interpretation a destination can imply are generally visitor centres, guided tours as well as
displays and exhibits, which are “widely recognized interpretative techniques”85.




80
   Masterson, Rosalind & Pickton, David, Marketing – An introduction, McGraw-Hill Education, 2004, p.211
81
   Id., p.211
82
   Wearing, Stephen & Neil, John, Ecotourism Impacts, Potentials and Possibilities, Reed Educational and Professional
Publishing Ltd, 2000
83
   Id., p.59
84
   Id., p.60
85
   Id., p.60
                                                            16

Successful interpretation aims at involving the visitor actively in the learning process,
contributing to a memorable experience, providing useful insights, appealing to and
stimulating all senses and thereby creating a sense of place. Sense of place can be related to
the ‘software’ of a destination, which is mainly about the magic and enchantment of a
destination (see 2.6.1).

One of the potential benefits of interpretation is the promotional benefit, as “interpretation
generally requires contact between the public and the agency staff, it often crosses into the
public relations role of effective management”86. Furthermore, a recreational benefit exists, as
“many park visitors seek some level of recreational involvement with the landscape, flora,
fauna and/ or cultural sites”87, as well as an educational benefit, as interpretation
communicates “an environmental consciousness”. A further, very important benefit is that
interpretation serves as a conservation management tool. It can be used as a “visitor
management tool to manage visitors and reduce visitor impacts”88, as interpretation can
“encourage appropriate behaviours, thus alleviating any potentially damaging behaviours”89
through visitors.
In order to communicate things to visitors in an interpretive way, the information has to stick
to the principles of provoking attention, relating to the visitor and revealing something90.
Many features, in form of materials appealing to sight, feeling, as well as smell and hearing
attract visitor’s attention and provoke thought. Furthermore, storylines can be implemented. A
storyline is “a story that is characteristic for an area and that fits in the sense of time and
place”91. They help the tourists “read the landscape” and evoke imagination, bringing a site to
life. The principle of making the information meaningful and personal in order to keep the
attention is rather difficult. The visitors should be able to relate to the given information
through their own experiences. Simple information makes it easier to reach a broad audience
as everyone can relate to issues92.

All in all, “heritage is conserved because someone thinks it important”93. Interpretive
techniques support others in understanding and appreciating this importance, and if they do
so, they might help conserve and protect the place concerned. “Interpretation not only tells
people what is interesting about a place, it aims to convince people of its value, and encourage
them to want to conserve it”94. Additionally, a product that initiates a sense of place is a
strong marketing tool that can give a destination a unique flair95.

  Involving interpretive techniques in the product development could support visitors in
  appreciating the SNP and its natural and cultural heritage more.
  Apart from stimulating a more memorable experience of the visitor by creating a ‘sense of
  place’, interpretation can support the conservation of the SNP.




86
   Wearing, Stephen & Neil, John, Ecotourism Impacts, Potentials and Possibilities, Reed Educational and Professional
Publishing Ltd, 2000, p.63
87
   Id., p.64
88
   Id., p.65
89
   Id., p.66
90
   Carter, James, A sense of place – An interpretive planning handbook, The Tourism and Environment Initiative, 2001, p.5-6
91
   Barten, Christa, Course ST3, Lecture on sense of place, 2008
92
   Carter, James, A sense of place – An interpretive planning handbook, The Tourism and Environment Initiative, 2001, p.5
93
   Id., p.4
94
   Tilden, Freeman in Carter, James, A sense of place – An interpretive planning handbook, The Tourism and Environment
Initiative, 2001, p.4
95
   Barten, Christa, Course ST3, Lecture, Sense of place, 2008
                                                         17

    Market segmentation
Segmentation can be defined as “the process of dividing a total market into subgroups
(segments) such that each segment consists of buyers and users who share similar
characteristics but are different from those in the other segments”96.
Markets are made up of various segments which have differing “characteristics, expectations,
activity participation and spending patterns”. “Marketing exploits these visitor segments by
comparing and matching them with the biophysical and cultural attributes of the park, and
then sensitively promoting appropriate protected area attributes to the targeted segment”97.
Hereby negative impacts caused by visitors to PA are reduced, while the satisfaction level of
the visitors and the economic benefits are increased.

A variety of different segmentation variables exists. Tourists can for example be segmented
according to their socio-demographic characteristics, which encompass characteristics like
age, gender, occupation, religion and income or their geographic characteristics, which
include their origin and the covered distance to the destination. Furthermore, psychographic
segmentation can be undertaken, which analyses the psychological reasons of the visitors for
coming to the destination. Some might be escaping their work life, others are looking for
adventure and again others might seek experiences in nature. Another means of segmenting
the visitors is according to their activity participation. The reasons for coming and the
expectations of the visitors play a big role in this case; while one visitor might be into bird
watching, another visitor might be interested in hiking. Last but not least, segmentation can be
done subject to perceived product benefits. This means that visitors can be segmented
according to their expectations. “Some might wish to socialise with friends or family, while
others might simply expect to enjoy natural beauty”98. Benefit segmentation is “market
segmentation based on differences in specific benefits different groups of consumers look for
in a product”99. By focusing on the individual needs of the various groups of consumers their
preferred means of communication, forms of consultancy, product combinations and further
service features can be filtered out100. Regarding benefit segmentation, “different audiences
for different perceived benefits”101 can be determined.

Attracting the ‘right’ type of market segments in economic terms is a difficult process. The
issues in this regard involve the geographical distribution of tourist expenditures, the length of
stay, the income multiplier for the destination area, the distribution of income in the
destination area, the number of jobs and their quality level, the stimulation of local enterprises
and the net income for treasury102.

Segmentation is of importance when it comes to forecasting the behaviour of visitors. By
identifying segments by the “product characteristics they prefer”, managers are supported in
the way that they can plan and prepare for the determined behaviours. “Segmentation by
perceived product benefit can be used to develop an understanding of what tourists really seek
in a visit to a protected area, and so establish an appropriate management response”103. By
doing so, the visitor satisfaction of the offered products and services will be higher.

96
   Visser, Marjolein, Course Introduction to marketing, Marketing planning and marketing mix, 2006
97
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, Best practice protected area
guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and management, 2002, p.21
98
   Id., p.22
99
   BNET Business Dictionary, Benefit Segmentation, http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/benefit-
segmentation.html, 11.06.09
100
    BBE Retail Experts, Handelswissen.de, Differenzieren,
http://www.handelswissen.de/data/themen/Kundenbindung/CRM/Differenzieren/index.php, 11.06.09
101
    Answers.com, Benefit Segmentation, http://www.answers.com/topic/benefit-segmentation, 11.06.09
102
    Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Lecture, Sustainable Tourism Impacts, 2008
103
    Id., p.22
                                                          18


  The most appropriate method of segmentation for the SNP will be assessed in Chapter 5.
  By adopting the process of segmentation, potential market segments for the SNP can be
  determined. If market segments are decided on and attracted, the SNP can estimate the
  behaviour of its visitors by the characteristics of products they choose.


    Target marketing
After having determined the different segments of a market, it has to be decided which of the
segments should be targeted. The process of ‘targeting strategies’, which is “used to select a
single target market, or a group of target markets”104 is implemented. The target marketing
strategies are referred to as ‘undifferentiated marketing’, ‘differentiated marketing’,
‘concentrated marketing’, ‘niche marketing’ and ‘customized marketing’. Undifferentiated
marketing is “where the market is believed to be composed of customers/ consumers whose
needs and wants from the product are fundamentally the same”105. Differentiated marketing
occurs when “differences between market segments are recognized and two or more target
markets are selected, each receiving a different marketing programme”106. Concentrated
marketing means that only a single market segment is selected for targeting. The term niche
market is used when the market is “relatively small, well defined and very focused”107.
Customized marketing refers to an even stronger focus. It describes the concentration on the
preferences of individual customers.

To reach the public, it is important to send a promotional message and choose the most
suitable way of communication in regards to each determined market segment. The
possibilities include the internet (websites), sponsorships, direct marketing, advertisements in
multimedia, sales promotional activities (e.g. travel exhibitions) and public relations activities
(e.g. inviting travel journalists to experience the product and write about it). Subsequent to the
market analysis, it should be defined which of these promotional strategies are the most
suitable for each determined market segment.

Subsequent to the product development stage and after having determined the products the
destination is going to offer and the actual market segments, ‘product-market combinations’
(PMC) for each specific market segment will be suggested. PMC refers to the linking and
bonding of a product to a specific market segment, fitting to its individual needs and wants.

  When potential market segments to the SNP have been determined, they are set in relation
  with the products of the SNP in order to form PMCs. Then, an appropriate targeting strategy
  for each potential market segment is chosen.




104
    Masterson, Rosalind & Pickton, David, Marketing – An introduction, McGraw-Hill Education, 2004, p.423
105
    Id., p.113
106
    Id., p.113
107
    Id., p.114
                                                    19

    2.8. Conceptual Framework
The conceptual framework depicts the links between the various concepts and theories that
are used for this research assignment. Their connection and relevance is further elucidated in
the following conclusion.

                             Tourism potential of the Soomaa National Park

                                                Protected areas


                                             Soomaa National Park



                                                 Conservation

              Sustainable development                                     Concept of PAN Parks


                                        Sustainable tourism development




                                          Stakeholder involvement



               Demand                        Destination marketing                    Supply



             Determination                                                         Analysis of
              of potential                                                         destination


                                        Analysis of demand and supply




                                          Determination of product-
                                            market combinations




                                   Suggestions and recommendations for
                                       future tourism development
                                                            20

    2.9. Conclusion
PAs are not solely important from a conservational point of view on their natural and cultural
features anymore; the importance of social and economic aspects has also increased. The
concept of SD embraces these aspects, as it is about finding a balance between people, profit
and planet, meaning a balance between socio-cultural, economic and ecological resources. If
resources are used responsibly, involving a wide range of stakeholders and aiming at creating
win-win situations, then the destination has potential for a SD.

The SNP is focused on SD, and with the prospect of increasing tourism benefits, it is
especially concentrating on the development of ST. STD is about defining the potential of the
destination and the role of tourism within the overall picture of sustainable development108. If
a long term strategic approach is taken, then tourism can be developed in a sustainable way.
In order to determine the tourism potential for STD at a destination, the following angles have
been seen to be of relevance: the competitive environment, the tourism supply as well as the
tourism demand. The tourism potential of the SNP is analysed in regards to these elements in
chapter 5 of this document.

Having analysed the tourism supply as well as the tourism demand of a destination,
opportunities for product development can be determined. Developing ideas for new products
that broaden the product range and draw desired tourism markets to the destination (in this
case the SNP) are of relevance. Opportunities for products are developed, while having
desired tourism markets in mind. The tourism market is segmented according to trends and
characteristics, in order to determine a potential target segment for each of the developed
products. PMCs are formed by setting products in relation to potential markets. In order to do
so, various marketing concepts are used.
For this specific research, the mentioned concept of product development is relevant, as well
as the concepts of market segmentation, targeting and image enhancement of the destination.
Moreover, implying elements that support the creation of a sense of place, like storylines and
other interpretational means when developing products, serve an educative purpose and can
enhance the tourists’ experience. For effective destination marketing, the ‘hardware’ and
‘software’ of the destination are very important. Especially the ‘software’ is a crucial element
as it embodies the authenticity, atmosphere, sense of place and enchantment of a destination.
These elements can not only be used for marketing a destination, but can be kept in mind
while developing products. A product that initiates a sense of place is a strong marketing tool
that can give a destination a unique and distinct flair109.




108
      Van Egmond, Ton, Course ST1, Lecture, Resources for sustainable development, 2008
109
      Barten, Christa, Course ST3, Lecture, Sense of place, 2008
                                                           21

3. Chapter – Background analysis
    3.1. Introduction
This chapter deals with relevant background information which helps putting the thesis in a
context and shows the wider picture. A short insight into the country Estonia is given and then
the focus is put on the SNP and its natural and cultural resources. As the SNP is aiming at
becoming a member of the PAN Parks network, this concept is explained.
Moreover, tourism in Estonia and the SNP is analyzed to give an overview of the tourism
activities on a national, regional and protected area level.


    3.2. Estonia                                         Map I
Estonia is the most northern of the
three Baltic States. In 2007 the country’s
population was estimated to be around
1,340,602. The main ethnic groups are
Estonians, making up 68.8% of
Estonia’s inhabitants and Russians rating
25.6% of the population. The total
landmass of the country makes up
45,228km²110. “Estonians have been
living in this tiny portion of the Baltic
lands since approximately 2,500 B.C.,
making them the longest settled of the
European peoples”111.

                                                                                               Source: Lonely Planet

Estonia has been of interest to various kings and conquerors throughout history because of its
strategic position of linking East and West. Danish, Swedish, Polish, Russian and German
conquerors occupied Estonia and set up their regimes. The Estonian nationalist movement
began at the end of the 19th century and on the 24th of February 1918 Estonia finally gained its
independence. The independence didn’t last long though, as the country was forcefully taken
over by the Soviet Union in 1940. Fifty-one years later, in 1991, Estonia finally regained
independence with the collapsing of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War112. Since
then, the country has been developing and modernizing very quickly113.

Today, the Parliamentary Republic of Estonia is divided into fifteen counties, which are
administrative subdivisions of the country114. Each county is again subdivided into
municipalities which can be either urban or rural. A total number of 227 municipalities exist
in the country since March 2008 of which 33 are urban and 194 rural municipalities.
The Soomaa National Park lies in the counties of Pärnu and Viljandi and overlaps or borders
with the municipalities of Tori, Vandra, Suure- Jaani, Parsti, Kõpu and Paikuse.




110
    Visit Estonia, History, http://www.visitestonia.com/index.php?page=61, 15.02.09; Wikipedia – The free Encyclopedia,
Estonia, www.wikipedia.org, 10.02.09
111
    Visit Estonia, History, http://www.visitestonia.com/index.php?page=61, 15.02.09
112
    Geo Cities, A short history of Estonia, http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/8921/history.html, 15.02.09
113
    Id.
114
    Marco Polo Reise-Atlas, Estland, Marco Polo, Germany 2008; Wikipedia – The free Encyclopedia, Estonia,
www.wikipedia.org, 10.02.09
          22

Map II




               Source: Environmental Board Pärnu



Map III




               Source: Environmental Board Pärnu
                                                       23

    3.3. The Soomaa National Park
The SNP is the second biggest NP in Estonia after the Lahemaa National Park. It was created
in 1993, which makes it one of the youngest in the country. Throughout its past, the SNP has
been used for agriculture, logging and forestry, which has impacted on the area. In 1997, the
SNP was determined a ‘Corine biotope area’ and was included in Europe’s list of most
important nature protection areas. It was also put on the RAMSAR list of international
wetlands. A year later, in 1998, the NP was proposed to become a UNESCO World Natural
Heritage site. In 2004, the SNP was also nominated to be in the Natura 2000 network. The
visitor centre of the NP was also established that year and is located in the middle of the park.
The visitor centre is positioned at an ancient crossroad that lead from Pärnu to Viljandi and
was used for transporting goods in the early 20th century115.

The SNP expands over an area of 370 square kilometres and consists of bogs, rivers, dunes,
floodplains meadows and forests. It is located in the middle of Estonia and is inhabited by less
than 100 people116. The climate in this region is relatively cold, rating annual temperatures of
about 5°C. Yearly floods take place in spring and can rise up to 6 metres, spreading over an
area of up to a 175 square kilometres. The flood is being referred to as the ‘fifth season’ in
Estonia and people manage to find their way around over bridges and in boats which are
carved out of a single tree trunk. The NP is unique in terms of its virgin nature, ethnographic
culture and the fact that it is one of the few regions in Europe that contains bogs. It can be
divided into different areas where various types of bogs and animal species can be found117.


        3.3.1. Natural resources
“Conservation and restoration of mires and their biodiversity has become an important issue
of environmental policy of Europe because of considerable loss in natural mire habitats due to
peat extraction and drainage”118. The SNP is listed as a “wetland of international importance”
as it consists of a highly valuable mire system119. The Kuresoo bog in the SNP, stretching
over 10, 842 ha, is to be restored. It is the “largest compact and nearly pristine plateau bog in
Estonia but approximately 50 ha of it is drained by ditches”120.

The primary groups of landscapes in the SNP can be divided into bogs, river floodplains and
mineral land areas that have a “moisture regime varying from dry (dunes) to wet (lake
plains)”121.
The national park has a wide range of flora and vegetation types. Vascular plants rate a
number of 554 species within the SNP, of which 38 are tree and bush species. Moreover, 24
species can be found in the SNP that have been assigned to be protected species in Estonia as
well as a 11 species that are listed in the Estonian Red Data Book (ERDB). 193 bryophyte
species, 119 lichen species and 360 fungi species can also be sighted in the SNP.
The vegetation of the national park has been strongly influenced by the periodical floods
taking place. The main site type to be found in the SNP, making up two-thirds of the area, is
mire. Bog communities, like bog forests and treed hummock bogs, are predominant in the
territory. Theses bogs are surrounded by wet forests. Further site types in the NP are heath

115
    Soomaa National Park, http://www.soomaa.ee/?setlang=eng, accessed 03.12.2008; Estonica,
http://www.estonica.org/eng/lugu.html?menyy_id=573&kateg=10&alam=71&leht=4, accessed 03.12.2008
116
    Marco Polo Reise-Atlas, Estland, Marco Polo, Germany 2008, p.71
117
    Soomaa National Park, http://www.soomaa.ee/?setlang=eng, accessed 03.12.2008; Estonica,
http://www.estonica.org/eng/lugu.html?menyy_id=573&kateg=10&alam=71&leht=4, accessed 03.12.2008
118
    Estonian Fund for Nature, Estonian- Latvian joint project Mire habitat restoration planning,
http://vana.elfond.ee/alaleht.php?id_kategooria=982&keel=inglise, 03.03.09
119
    Id.
120
    Id.
121
    Soomaa National Park, Management plan of Soomaa National Park 2000-2010, Viljandi, 2000, p.16
                                                         24

mores, grassland which covers less than 2,000 ha of the NP, and various forests. Of the total
area of forest in the NP, peatland forests make up 32%. Of these, pine forests are dominating
with 70%.

The fauna of the SNP encompasses insects, molluscs, fish, crayfish, lamprey, six types of
amphibians and four types of reptiles. Additionally, a number of 172 bird species has been
documented in the area of the NP. Of the total number of 56 bird species that are listed in the
ERDB, 32 can be found in the SNP. The NP has been proclaimed an ‘Internationally
Important Bird Area’ (IIBA) by BirdLife International122. Also, 46 mammal species, of which
15 are protected species and six are listed in the ERDB, are present in the NP. Large
carnivores of the area include the lynx, the wolf and the brown bear.


        3.3.2. Cultural resources
“The natural conditions of Soomaa have played an important role in the development of the
local cultural traditions: extensive bogs, floods, abundance of rivers and river floodplains,
have all had an effect on the development of the unique features of the region”123.
A saying from Riisa expresses that the people living in the area have five seasons: spring,
summer, autumn, winter and flood. The locals have adapted their lifestyles well to these
circumstances and thereby many historical and traditional values are connected to the
periodically rising water levels of the area.
Specific means of transport, called dugouts or log boats were used during the floods in order
to get from A to B. The dugouts were made by hollowing out a “smooth-barked and sound
trunk of aspen tree”124 and tarring it so that it doesn’t rot. While standing, a person steered the
dugout with a paddle. Most of the time these log boats were only rowed from one side with
long sweeps. Apparently, the largest dugout canoe could carry 13 men, but usually the log
boats were used by fewer people125.

During the springtime, two types of rafts were used by locals in order to raft logs along the
rivers. Single rafts could start immediately after the ice broke, one rafter was in front and a
second rafter in the back. The logs were then steered with long oars. Mass rafting usually
began when the flood had pulled away and the current of the river was stronger. Timber was
rolled into the river and was led by rafters for up to 10 days. People earned their money by
logging, working as rafters or by accommodating rafters. In the 1950s though, the jobs of
these people were taken over by Soviet-time machines. A railway was also constructed in
order to transport the timber.

During the winter when the bogs were deeply frozen, so called winter roads were the only
option to get to Pärnu harbour and Viljandi. People travelled in sledges during the four winter
months in order to get salt, grain and spirits126.
Further local winter routes were established by farmers who owned hay meadows on river
floodplains or between forests. It was only possible to transport the hay or wood to the farm
with a sleigh in winter. The winter routes led through cleared forests, over floodplains as well
as bogs and were used until WWII. ”At the crossings of the routes there were usually inns
built by order of local manor lords and used by travellers for resting and staying overnight”127.

122
    Estonian Fund for Nature, Estonian- Latvian joint project Mire habitat restoration planning,
http://vana.elfond.ee/alaleht.php?id_kategooria=982&keel=inglise, 03.03.09
123
    Soomaa National Park, Management plan of Soomaa National Park 2000-2010, Viljandi, 2000, p.26
124
    Soomaa Rahvuspark, Soomaa, Eesti Loodusfoto, 2000
125
    Soomaa National Park, Management plan of Soomaa National Park 2000-2010, Viljandi, 2000, p.27
126
    Id., p.27
127
    Id., p.27
                                                           25

Here they could purchase food and drinks for themselves and water for their horses. After the
construction of a railway, the need for the winter roads disappeared. The inns also vanished as
soon as the winter routes weren’t utilized anymore.

The architecture of many farms that are situated in the SNP still give an insight into the
former life styles as they resemble the simplicity and the closeness to nature in which people
lived. “The cultural landscape of the area can be sensed best in Tipu village, which is still an
integral village and supplied with access routes”128.
In former times every farm that was located at a riverbank constructed a bridge to have its
own crossing. Quite a few traditional suspension bridges can still be seen in the Tipu village,
at Karusekose, in Aesoo as well as in Joesuu. Furthermore the people installed trestles which
were mostly used as crossing ways for cattle. These trestles were set up after the floods and
taken down before the rivers froze129.

In November 1999 a number of 99 people lived in the SNP. Of these inhabitants, 37 lived in
the Tipu village, 27 in the Riisa village, 29 in the Sandra village and 6 on the left bank of the
Navesti130. Today, the number of the inhabitants of the SNP has decreased to approximately
87131. The unemployment rate at the local level is a big problem and is seen to be the main
reason for many people to move into the city to work132, apart from the younger generations
moving away to the cities. The main streams of income of people living in the SNP are gained
through the wood industry, furniture production, service industry as well as metal industry133.
Furthermore agriculture plays an important role and some locals produce local food products
as well as handcrafts134. But many locals also go to work in cities outside of the SNP135.

The number of tourists and the income through tourism has increased in the past couple of
years though and the cooperation between the various stakeholders involved in tourism has
also enhanced136.
Though, one of the biggest problems lies in the fact that resources aren’t used properly and
the local people lack the qualification to work in tourism137. In the Kopu Municipality the
number of people employed by tourism is relatively low. Of the 800 people living in the
municipality, a maximum number of 10 people work in tourism. The head of the Kopu
Municipality makes clear that tourism isn’t regarded as a full time job as it is 100% seasonal
all over Estonia, but he regards this to change in the coming two years138. In the Municipality
of Paikuse, when regarding the local income, tourism plays a minor role, making up around
5% of the income of the area and having a number of 40 people involved139. Just like for the
Kopu Municipality and the Paikuse Municipality, tourism is a side activity in the Suure- Jaani
Municipality. Up till now, only a few single entrepreneurs offering accommodation are
involved in the tourism industry140.

128
    Soomaa National Park, Management plan of Soomaa National Park 2000-2010, Viljandi, 2000, p.26
129
    Soomaa Rahvuspark, Soomaa, Eesti Loodusfoto, 2000
130
    Soomaa National Park, Management plan of Soomaa National Park 2000-2010, Viljandi, 2000, p.12
131
    Reimann, Mart of the University of Tallinn & Allikas, Liina of the University of Tartu, Tourism impacts and local
communities in Estonian Natinoal Parks, Investigations were conducted from 2005 - 2007
132
    Kuusk, Leili, Suure- Jaani Municipality, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.4.)
133
    Reimann, Mart of the University of Tallinn & Allikas, Liina of the University of Tartu, Tourism impacts and local
communities in Estonian Natinoal Parks, Investigations were conducted from 2005 - 2007
134
    Link, Enda, Tori Municipality, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.1.); Kiviloo, Tonu, Kopu Municipality, Interview
March 2009 (see Attachment 3.3.)
135
    Kiviloo, Tonu, Kopu Municipality, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.3.)
136
    Link, Enda, Tori Municipality, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.1.)
137
    Kiviloo, Tonu, Kopu Municipality, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.3.)
138
    Id.
139
    Erkman, Kumo, Paikuse Municipality, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.2.)
140
    Kuusk, Leili, Suure- Jaani Municipality, Interview March (see Attachment 3.4.)
                                                         26

The attitude of the village people in relation to tourism is regarded as rather positive by
members of the counties and municipalities141. It is perceived that many village people see
good business opportunities in tourism but often forget to acknowledge that tourism is a
seasonal activity and that it takes years to attract tourists and make the tourism activity
economically efficient142. The problem is furthermore that tourism is often seen from a solely
economic point of view and in terms of making money. The protection of nature is often
forgotten over this143.

According to this information, tourism can be regarded as a relatively underdeveloped
industry in the SNP. Regarding the perceptions of members of the municipalities and counties
though, it has potential for growth in terms of its great amount of resources. While the attitude
of the local population in regards to tourism is also relatively positive, the lack of expertise in
the field and the seasonality of this industry are problematic.


    3.4. PAN Parks
The Protected Area Network, also referred to as PAN Parks, is an independent foundation that
has been initiated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 1998. In cooperation with tourism
stakeholders, like e.g. tourism operators, and managers of PAs, PAN Parks strives to “support,
preserve, enjoy Europe’s wilderness”. The main aim is to establish a Europe-wide network of
nature parks which are managed up to certain sustainability principles and standards. PAN
Parks is set under a certification system called the WCPA (World Commission on Protected
Areas) Framework for Management Effectiveness. In this way, PAN Parks “sets an important
benchmark for high standards of protected area management”144. Apart from assessing the PA
itself, PAN Parks deals with its surrounding area as well as its stakeholders. Overall, the
network tries to combine tourism and nature conservation and supports its member parks with
promotion and marketing opportunities145.

The two main functions of PAN Parks are to “connect certified partners through its quality
brand” and to enhance the effective management of PA’s. The second aspect relates to
ensuring wilderness protection for the future, involving local communities, promoting PA’s
on a European-scale, enhancing the awareness of Europe’s ‘natural beauties’ as well as
enabling the surrounding areas of the PA’s to develop sustainable tourism.

In order to become a member of PAN Parks, applying PAs have to present certain
certification schemes. Principles and criteria encompass ‘natural values’, ‘management
effectiveness’, ‘sustainable tourism’, ‘business partners’, ‘verification’ and ‘verification of
local business partners’146.
The first principle ‘natural values’ is concerned with “the scope of protection, the
international importance, and size of the protected area”147. These aspects must be identified
by the PA that wants to apply for a PAN Parks membership. The second and third principles,
termed conservation management’ ‘and visitor management’, both regard the management
effectiveness of the park itself. This means that applying PAs will be evaluated according to
their management and process principles. ‘Sustainable tourism’ is the fourth principle and
involves the philosophy of a Sustainable Tourism Development Strategy (STDS). This

141
    Maidla, Reevo, Union of Viljandi local municipalities, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.5.)
142
    Kiviloo, Tonu, Kopu Municipality, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.3.)
143
    Maidla, Reevo, Union of Viljandi local municipalities, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 3.5.)
144
    PAN Parks, Verification Manual – Public Guide, January 2008, p.1
145
    PAN Parks, www.panparks.org, 04.12.2008; PAN Parks, Verification Manual – Public Guide, January 2008
146
    Id.
147
    PAN Parks, Verification Manual – Public Guide, January 2008, p.3
                                                         27

principle primarily aims at conservation objectives and at involving various stakeholders. This
specific research assignment on the tourism potential and marketing opportunities of the SNP
contributes to the development of the STDS for the SNP and falls under principle 4. It thereby
forms part of the process the SNP is going through in order to become a member of PAN
Parks. Principle 5 considers ‘business partners’ and deals with “market forces that influence
protected areas and protected area economies”148. It mainly deals with establishing
connections between local entrepreneurs and PAN Parks through the STDS.

An applying PA will be evaluated and verified according to these principles by a team of
international experts of various fields. After this process, a lead verifier submits a report to the
PAN Parks Foundation, stating whether or not the PA has met the principles and criteria149.

Benefits obtained through PAN Parks membership for a PA would be a greater international
recognition and an independent audit, which would be gained by setting “priorities for
building conservation capacity”150, by measuring progresses, by applying adaptive
management, by enhancing the standards of environmental management and monitoring
tourism. The international recognition would also be beneficial to the local communities.
They would furthermore profit from greater promotion of small businesses, increasing
employment as well as the collaboration in the management of the park. Other benefits to
local communities might involve the possibility to distribute traditions and crafts, the
improvement of tourism facilities and increased support from the government. Local business
partners could benefit from established contacts to tourism companies on a European level,
enhanced nature based tourism, international marketing and opportunities for trainings151.


    3.5. Tourism as economic activity
        3.5.1. Tourism in Estonia
As stated in the ‘Estonian National Development Plan for Tourism’, the tourism policy of
Estonia embodies an essential part of the national economic policy, which aims at “generating
economic and social benefits to the Estonian residents through a stable economic growth
process”152. “The main goal of Estonia’s tourism policy is to achieve a sustainable growth of
the sector by attracting more tourists to visit our country and increasing progressively their
average stay in the country”153. The country strives at an improved quality management of the
tourism products in order to achieve increased international competitiveness. Generally,
tourism has become increasingly important for Estonia, accounting for approximately 10% of
the GDP in 2004154.

Over the past 17 years, after Estonia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the
existing domestic tourism in the country grew while international tourism increasingly
developed in the country. During the past years, the tourist infrastructure of Estonia has been
upgraded and extended. Major construction took place at the sea- and airport of the country,
as well as in the field of hotels and restaurants. This strong development has paid itself off in
increasing tourism numbers.


148
    PAN Parks, Verification Manual – Public Guide, January 2008, p.4
149
    PAN Parks, www.panparks.org, 04.12.2008; PAN Parks, Verification Manual – Public Guide, January 2008
150
    Beunders, Niek, Course ST3, Lecture on PAN Parks, 2008
151
    Id.
152
    ETQP - Estonian Tourism Quality Programme, National quality programmes and national quality awards – Means of the
movements towards quality and excellence, 5th Conference of the Central and Eastern European Countries, 2004, p.1
153
    Id., p.1
154
    Id., p.1
                                                           28

A further contributor to the stimulation of the tourism industry was the integration of Estonia
in the European Union, especially because European budget airlines are now flying to and
from the country, bringing an increasing number of visitors from European countries to
Estonia.

After 1991, the main markets to Estonia came from the rest of Europe and the USA. Currently
tourism makes up 15% of the country’s GDP, while it made up only 8.1% in 2002155. In
Diagram I on ‘Travel services and passenger transport in Estonia’ a balance of payments is
depicted. It shows that both imports and exports have increased steadily from 1995 to 2007
with the imports rating approximately 200 million euro less than the exports each year.

Diagram I




                                                                                    Source: Bank of Estonia

In order to spread the tourism throughout the country, it is important to lead the visitor flows
out of the capital Tallinn, which is known as “one of the best-preserved medieval cities in
Europe”156. The following statistic on ‘overnights of foreign tourists’ shows that even with an
increase in tourism numbers to Estonia, Tallinn has steadily stayed the most important
tourism destination in the country (Diagram II)




155
      Statistics Estonia, Tourism in Estonia 1993- 2006: Key indicators, 2006
156
      Mintel Database, Emergence of Central & Eastern European Travel, March 2008
                                                                           29

Diagram II
                     Overnights of foreign tourists at accommodation establishments of Estonia by region, 1995–2006 (thous.).
                                                            Source: Statistics Estonia.

  3200

  3000

  2800                                                                                                            396            412
                 in other regions
  2600
                 in Tartu                                                                         407             114            113
  2400                                                                                                            170            159
                 on Saaremaa Island
                                                                                                  96
  2200           in Pärnu                                                                         154
                                                                                  413                             533            512
  2000           in Tallinn

  1800                                                              257           86              564
                                                                                  146
  1600                                                         62
                                                                    127
  1400                                                                            451
  1200                                              189             463
                                               41
                                                    60
  1000                              162
                               51                   272                                                           1769          1824
      800                            49
                                                                                                 1 526
               106                  245
      600   42
                49                                                               1172
                 135                                                1002
      400                                           767
                                    572
      200     421

        0
              1995               1997            1999               2001          2003            2004            2005           2006


                                                                                                              Source: Statistics Estonia

In regards to domestic tourists, Tallinn has also been the primary destination but to a much
lower extent. Other regions have gained in importance over the years (Diagram III).
Pärnu, which was proclaimed a resort under Soviet rule157, is now referred to as the ‘Summer
Capital of Estonia’. It is a popular destination for spa and beach tourism158, receiving
approximately 271,000 tourists during the three summer months, of which 203,000 are
foreign tourists. Of these 75% of foreign tourists, 53,7% are Finnish, 3,8% Swedish and 3.2%
German159. The SNP is one of the main natural destinations for the County of Pärnu160 and it
is of great important as it is the only NP within the county161. At least 90% of all the visitors
to the SNP come from Pärnu and many tourists that spend their summer at the beaches of
Pärnu undertake trips to the SNP162.




157
    Essential City Guides, Pärnu: Resort 170, http://www.inyourpocket.com/estonia/parnu//feature/70491-
Parnu:_Resort_170.html?more=1, 18.06.09
158
    Estlandia.de, Pärnu beautiful seaside resort – Estonia’s “Summer Capital”, http://www.estlandia.de/en/tourism-
estonia/cities/paernu.html, 14.05.09
159
    Estonian Review, http://brilliantfixer.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/parnu-maintains-number-of-summer-visitors/, 14.05.09
160
     Kesküll, Annely, Tourism Information Centre Pärnu, Interview March 2009 (see Attachment 5.1.)
161
    Kase, Urmas, Pärnu County Government – Planning and Development Department, Interview March 2009 (see
Attachment 2.2.)
162
    Id.
                                                                      30

Diagram III
               Overnights of domestic tourists at accommodation establishments of Estonia by region, 1995–2006 (thous.).
                                                       Source: Statistics Estonia.
 1600

                   in other regions
 1400              in Valga county (Valga & Otepää region)
                   in Ida-Viru county (North East Estonia)
                                                                                                                           543
                   in Tartu
 1200
                   on Saaremaa Island
                   in Pärnu
 1000
                   in Tallinn
                                                                                                            437            155
                                                                                            365
  800
                                                                                                                           158
                                                                            307
                                                                                                            115            97
  600                                                                                       104
             151                                  217          253                                          125            122
                                                                             80             131
             28                    133
  400                                                                                                        78
                                                  66                        102              64                            159
             145                   63                           64
                                                                             60              76              97
                                   87             71            64
        33                                                                   59
             12               39             40              39 25                          107             107
  200                              12             27
             144                                                59           87                                            289
                                   100            94
                                                               121          122             163             170
             84                    82             91
   0
           1995                 1997            1999           2001         2003            2004            2005           2006


                                                                                                        Source: Statistics Estonia

Most of the markets to Estonia are from Europe or the USA. A statistic by ‘Entreprise
Estonia’ on ‘the arrival of foreign tourists at accommodation establishments’ shows that the
total arrival rated 2 259 087 in 2006. Of these, 831 504 were domestic tourists and 1 427 583
were foreign tourists.

Table II




                                                                                                        Source: Statistics Estonia
                                                                                 31

Within Europe, Finland made up the main foreign market, followed by Sweden at second
place, but rating a much lower number, and Germany reaching the third position. Further
markets which rated a relatively high number of arrivals included the UK, Russia, Latvia and
Norway. The USA made up the biggest market outside of Europe.
In 2007, the total number of arrivals to Estonia increased by 84 008 to 2 343 094. Of this
number, arrivals of domestic tourists showed an increase to the previous year, whilst foreign
tourist arrivals decreased. While the number of arrivals from the three main European markets
(Finland, Sweden and Germany) decreased, the number of arrivals from the neighbouring
countries Latvia and Lithuania rose together with the number of arrivals of the biggest non-
European market, the USA.
These developments indicate that Estonia is becoming attractive to a broader range of the
international market. Tourism markets from neighbouring countries offer potential growth
while tourism arrivals from as far as the USA are furthermore increasing. Generally though,
being one of the Baltic countries, which are relatively unknown, already limits the number of
tourists coming to Estonia. Other European destinations are much further when it comes to
tourism development, have a greater international recognition and are more popular.

The developments are depicted in the following diagram (Diagram IV).

Diagram IV
                           Foreign tourists at accommodation establishments of Estonia by country of residence, 1995–2006 (thous.).
                                                                 Source: Statistics Estonia.
  1500                                                                                                                       1453
                                                                                                                                       1428
                       others                                                                                      1374
  1400
                       Norway                                                                                                  228
  1300                                                                                                                                  239
                       UK (1995–2002 incl. Ireland)                                                                 198
  1200                 Latvia                                                                                                  41
                                                                                                       1113         36         63       49
                       Russia                                                                                       39
  1100                                                                                                                         52       61
                       Germany                                                                                      41
                                                                                               1003      145        42         53       66
                                                                                      985
  1000                 Sweden                                                                                                           67
                                                                                                                    86         109
                                                                                                125      30
                       Finland                                             885         108                  30
      900                                                                                               29          89                  90
                                                                                       17 24    23        37                   108
                                                                           98         25          28
      800                                                                                      34         68                            106
                                                                749                    44
                                                                            24                   53       67
      700                                                        96                    57
                                                      645                     35                 61
                                                                            63
      600                                  577        85         22
                                                                      28
                                            90                   51
      500                                                  27
                                429                   40
                                                 26                                                                 844
      400   353                  84        35                                                                                  799
                                                                                                                                        749
                                                                                       684               706
             69                                                            611                  648
      300                             22
                             29                                 510
                  23
            23                                        432
      200                                  376
                                257
      100   206

        0
            1995                1996       1997       1998      1999       2000       2001      2002     2003      2004       2005     2006

                                                                                                                    Source: Statistics Estonia

Furthermore, Diagram V shows that the number of foreign tourists staying only for a day is
much bigger in comparison to the overnight stays. Though, the number of foreign tourists
staying overnight has slowly increased in the past, while same-day visitors have decreased
from 1999 onwards163. This is a positive development for Estonia. It shows that foreign
tourists tend to stay overnight more frequently, which indicates that they spend more money
in the country and therefore enhance the benefit of tourism to the local economy.




163
      Statistics Estonia, Tourism in Estonia 1993- 2006: Key indicators, 2006
                                                                  32

Diagram V
                                     Arrivals of foreign visitors in Estonia, 1995-2006 (mil.)

  4,00              all foreign visitors             among them same-day visitors                 among them overnight visitors


                                                                                           3,38
  3,50                                                         3,31
                                                    3,18                3,23        3,25
                                            2,91
  3,00
                                  2,62
                     2,43
  2,50
            2,11                                       2,23
                                             2,08               2,09
                                                                          1,91      1,89   1,92
                                    1,89
  2,00                 1,77
             1,58                                                                                                  1,917          1,94
  1,50                                                                                                  1,75

                                                                                           1,46
                                                                         1,32       1,36
  1,00                                                        1,22
                                                     0,95
                                            0,83
  0,50                0,67         0,73
            0,53

  0,00
           1995      1996         1997     1998     1999      2000       2001       2002   2003         2004       2005       2006

                                                                                                         Source: Statistics Estonia

        3.5.2. Tourism in the region
In order to give a broad insight into the overall situation, tourism on a national level has been
depicted in the previous section 3.5.1. It was to be zoomed in on tourism on a regional level in
this section, while tourism on a local level is described in 3.5.3 in order to complete the whole
picture. The Tourism Information Centre in Pärnu was questioned regarding the provision of
tourism statistics in the region, but accurate data is lacking.


        3.5.3. Tourism in the Soomaa National Park
Overall, no ‘real’ tourism is taking place in the SNP yet. It can be defined as a secondary
destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. Apart from the fact that the SNP might
become primary destination for domestic tourists (which will be explained further in the text
below), it will most probably stay a secondary destination for foreign tourists. Taking this into
consideration, the concept of PAN Parks is in a way misleading, as it promises NPs that are
part of the network that they’ll become ‘international destinations’, which is not true or
suitable for all NPs.

The SNP predominately receives domestic tourists, who mainly come to the NP in bigger
groups of friends or families that are interested in activities like canoeing. Other than that,
Estonian companies organise parties in the NP164. According to various stakeholders of the
SNP, the length of stay of the domestic tourists is rather short and their reason to visit the NP
doesn’t stand in relation to its natural and cultural features; they mostly come in order to
enjoy and entertain themselves. The NP has potential in becoming a primary destination for
domestic markets if its facilities are improved. Though, the question results which segments
of the domestic market are the suitable target markets for the SNP. As the SNP strives for a
sustainable tourism development, an increasing number of parties for example wouldn’t fit in
the context of the NP. Therefore, it’d have to be focused on domestic tourists that are
interested in activities like canoeing, bog shoeing or bird- watching.

164
      Hitti Sosi (Attachment 7.1.), Aimar Kuill (Attachment 7.2.), Katrin Ruumet (Attachment7.3.)
                                                             33

Most of the foreign tourists come to visit the SNP whilst on holiday in Pärnu or Tallinn.
Accommodation providers of the NP state that foreign tourists generally stay for a longer
period of time than domestic tourists. They usually know exactly why they have come to the
NP165. In most cases, foreign tourists already have specific activities they would like to
involve in on their mind166. According to some interviewees, foreign tourists show an interest
in the environment and try their best not to harm it, while domestic tourists rather focus on
their entertainment and tend to disregard the environment. For foreign tourists, the SNP will
stay a secondary destination. Once in Estonia, this market not only wants to see the SNP but
also the rest of Estonia. It is rather unrealistic to expect a foreign tourist to travel to Estonia
solely to visit the SNP.

The SNP doesn’t have any controlled entrance points and therefore estimates its number of
visitors through its Visitor Centre (VC). It is approximated that at least one third of all visitors
to the NP come to the VC. Therefore it has to be considered that the following numbers of
visitors gathered by the VC make up about one third of all visitors to the NP.
According to the statistics, the number of both domestic and foreign visitors drastically
increases in the months of April and May each year, rating around 1,000 to 2,000 visitors in
the subsequent months, and descending rapidly in October. The visitors to the VC of the NP
during the months of November till March are dominantly domestic visitors, ranging around
100 to 300 visitors per month. On the other hand, foreign visitors to the NP only rate numbers
of 0 to 50 during these months. Tourism in the SNP can therefore be considered as a strongly
seasonal activity and the main visitors are domestic.

Diagram VI

                                                     Visitors 2007

        2500
                                                                                                         Domestic
                                                                                                         Foreign
        2000                                                                                             Total



        1500



        1000



         500



            0
                 Jan.   Feb. March April          May     June     July     Aug.    Sept.    Oct.     Nov.       Dec.

                                       Data derived from statistics provided by Rait Parts, the Visitor Management Specialist




165
      Marika Laidna &Raivo Olesk (Attachment 7.5.)
166
      Ruumet, Katrin (Attachment 7.3.)
                                              34

In total, the number of visitors between 2003 and 2005 decreased by 1,634 visitors from
10,614 to 8,980. In the years of 2006 to 2008, the numbers of visitors stayed more or less the
same.
The number of domestic tourists fluctuated between 2003 and 2008, decreasing drastically in
2005 but then striving upwards again from 2006 onwards. The domestic visitor number
slowly increased from 2003 till 2006 and started to gradually decrease from 2007 onwards.

Table III
                2003          2004          2005         2006          2007          2008
Domestic           9 073         9 419        6 771         8 333         8 400        8 710
Foreign            1 541         1 757        2 209         2 524         2 489        2 190

Total             10 614       11 176         8 980        10 857       10 889        10 900



    3.6. Conclusion
Since 1991, after Estonia gained its independence from the Soviet Union, the tourism
numbers in the country have steadily increased. The main markets to Estonia are coming from
Europe and the USA. The capital city of Tallinn has made up the main destination for tourists
for the past 17 years. In order to take the pressure from Tallinn and make tourism more
profitable in the wider region of the country, the aim is now to spread tourism throughout
Estonia. Today, the tourism policy of Estonia is forming an integral part of its national
economic policy, aiming at a sustainable growth of tourism. Furthermore, the country is
aiming at a higher international competitiveness by focussing on more quality tourism.

The SNP, which is situated in the centre of Estonia, has similar objectives. It is now applying
to become a member of the PAN Parks network, which aims at creating a synergy between
the conservation of natural values and ST. Through the PAN Parks membership, the SNP is to
obtain a greater international recognition, benefiting not only the conservational capacity but
also local communities through increasing employment and promotion.
Concerning tourism, the SNP is highly dependent on the season. Statistics show that each year
the number of domestic and foreign visitors increases significantly in the months of April and
May, and decreasing rapidly in October. As the population of the NP is slowly declining due
to a lack of employment opportunities and the fact that younger generations move to the city,
employment opportunities through tourism are welcome. The SNP has a wide range of natural
and cultural features to offer and, in that sense, it has potential for tourism. Though,
developing tourism in a sustainable manner in order to stay within the carrying capacity of the
NP and make it profitable in the long term is crucial. Determining potential markets and
developing a sustainable marketing strategy is of great importance.
Currently, the SNP is a secondary destination for both domestic and foreign tourists. Though,
if a higher level of facilities would be provided, then the SNP might have the chance of
becoming a primary destination for domestic tourists.
                                               35

4. Chapter – Stakeholder analysis
    4.1. Introduction
The goal of this chapter is to evaluate the perspectives and opinions of the interviewed
stakeholders of the SNP.

These interviews, in which perspectives, visions and opinions of various stakeholders are
revealed, give an overview of where the SNP is standing, what is hoped for by the
stakeholders and what their general visions are. This evaluative chapter forms the basis of the
subsequent chapter, as it provides essential information and input for the development of the
PMCs.


    4.2. Stakeholder audit
Earlier in this research assignment it was explained that a bottom- up approach forms the
basis of this research, as it underlines the importance of taking local people’s perceptions into
account when it comes to decision making.
Therefore, during the fieldwork, various stakeholders were contacted with the help of Murel
Merivee, a ‘Conservation Planning Specialist of the Environmental Board’ in Pärnu and Rait
Parts, the ‘Visitor Management Specialist of the State Forest Management Board’. They came
along to the interviews and assisted in translating, as a couple of interviewees weren’t fluent
or comfortable in speaking English or German.

The main criterion for selecting the interviewees was their relation to the SNP. TOs and
accommodation providers that were located in or around the NP were contacted, while at the
same time interviews were arranged with members of the counties and municipalities of
which the SNP forms part. Furthermore, NGOs that deal with issues concerning the SNP were
spoken to.

The various interviewees were asked questions in relation to their roles within the SNP as
well as their visions and objectives. Their perceptions of socio-economic issues in the SNP
and the importance of tourism were determined. Also, questions were asked concerning the
tourism development in the region, their opinion on what is of interest to tourists to the SNP,
what they know about the history of the park, how they would define the ideal tourist and
what tourism products they think are missing in the SNP.
Their answers are important for determining the role of tourism in the SNP and serve as
significant input for assessing the tourism potential of the NP. Answers to the tourism related
questions help identify why tourists come to the region, what types of tourists are desired and
which kinds of tourism products are lacking.

The interviewees are subdivided into seven tables. The first table gives insight into the
interviews conducted with members of the management boards of the SNP, while the second
table gives an overview of the statements of the interviewed members of counties. Then, the
third table briefly shows the opinions of members of municipalities which are connected to
the SNP. In the forth table, an insight into the statements of two NGOs is given and in the
following table the interview with an employee of the Tourism Information Centre in Pärnu is
depicted. The last two tables shortly reflect the interviews with TOs and accommodation
providers. Furthermore, the explanations of some of the interviewees on the history of the
SNP and its legends are summed up under the tables.
                                                   36

        4.2.1. Management Boards
The SNP is under the management of two bodies, the Environmental Board and the State
Forest Management Board. Two Conservation Planning Specialists of the Environmental
Board in Pärnu and the Visitor Management Specialist of the State Forest Management Board
were interviewed. Their roles within the SNP, their opinions of what is of interest to tourists,
their visions and product ideas are reflected in the subsequent table.

                                           Management Boards
  Who          Position     Role in relation to   Opinion on       Visions for the SNP    Product ideas
                                 the SNP          what is of
                                                  interest to
                                                   tourists
Murel       Conservation       Writing of           Natural           The SNP remains     Specialised
Merivee     Planning           management           features of       naturally intact    guides on flora
167
            Specialist of      plans for PAs        the SNP           The wilderness is   and fauna
            the                Making               (bogs,            preserved           Workshops on
            Environmental      legislative          wetlands,         Local               traditional crafts
            Board in           improvement          etc)              communities         and local cuisine
            Pärnu              Supporting the       Fifth season      have their place    Local restaurant
                               coordination of      Recreation        One single          Renovation of the
                               management                             management          Visitor Centre –
                               processes                              body for the SNP    more
                                                                                          interpretational
                                                                                          materials
Meelis      Conservation       Writing of           Seeing            SNP as a            More
Suurkask    Planning           management           wetlands          classical NP,       interpretational
168
            Specialist of      plans for PAs        Seek              providing           materials in the
            the                Making               adventures        environmental       Visitor Centre
            Environmental      legislative          in nature         services            Employment of
            Board in           improvement          Fifth season      Conservation        local park rangers
            Pärnu              Supporting the                         activities should   to guide visitors
                               coordination of                        be coordinated by
                               management                             one body
                               processes                              Primarily local
                                                                      businesses in
                                                                      order to benefit
                                                                      the local
                                                                      economy
Rait        Visitor            Visitor              Primarily         Natural             Enhancing the
Parts169    Management         management           people            conditions of the   products quality
            Specialist of      within the NP        come to           SNP remain          Better
            the State          Contact person       have an           intact              community based
            Forest             between the          experience        Ecosystems will     services (e.g.
            Management         Environmental        in pure           be restored         public transport,
            Board              Board and the        nature            Access to the       mobile reception)
                               management of                          park via public
                               the SNP                                transport will be
                                                                      improved
                                                                      Quality of
                                                                      services in the
                                                                      park will enhance
                                                                      Entrepreneurs
                                                                      support nature
                                                                      conservation
                                                                      Improved
                                                                      cooperation
                                                                      between
                                                                      stakeholders




167
    See Appendix 1.1.
168
    See Appendix 1.2.
169
    See Appendix 1.3.
                                                      37

When summing up the interview results of the management boards of the SNP, the visions of
the interviewees are mainly focused on nature conservation and restoration. It is also hoped
that the SNP will be managed by solely by one management body in the future. Furthermore,
it becomes clear that the natural features of the SNP are perceived to be the primary reason for
tourists to come to the SNP. Products that need improvement or are lacking are mentioned to
be infrastructure, interpretational means, specialized guided tours as well as a facility to buy
local food.

    History/ legends of the SNP
Apart from the above given answers, Meelis Suurkask and Rait Parts also give information on
the history and legends of the SNP.
Meelis Suurkask explicates that the SNP was established in 1993. Up till then no tourism
activities had taken place in the area, he says. The first stage of tourism development was
when entrepreneurs appeared and started offering canoe trips. The second stage was the
building of nature trails and guides. The third stage was the construction of the Visitor Centre.
He goes on and explains that as tourism grew, coordination in relation to limits for group sizes
started to be implemented. Additionally the need for more trails was satisfied and the first
management plan was prepared. The building of infrastructure then helped raise the number
of tourists. Meelis Suurkask elucidates that the increasing numbers of tourists resulted in a
raise in the economy as the local economy profited from the income through tourism. Then, at
the beginning of 2000 he says, tourism started to be a very important source of income for
locals. Nowadays, he proclaims that the tourism influence on the NP isn’t that relevant
anymore. All the guides are self-employed and the private sector has grown very strong and
therefore tourism is relatively difficult to coordinate.
Rait Parts states that there are a few stories about how people used to live in the Soomaa area
in the past. He explains that these people were far away from the ‘outside world’ and
therefore they were very independent, comparable to people living on an island. He goes on
that the people from the ‘mainland’ or the ‘outside world’ saw the people of the Soomaa area
as awkward. Due to the different lifestyles and perceptions of these two groups, many
misunderstandings occurred.
Rait Parts brings up another story about Tori. Apparently, the history of Tori is connected to
the sandstone caves. It is said that the devil lived in the caves and got beaten up by the ladies
that washed their clothes in the river. He states that there are many small legends about
Soomaa, but no general one.

       4.2.2. Counties connected to the Soomaa National Park
Two members of the Pärnu County were interviewed in relation to their role in the context of
the SNP, as well as the importance of tourism to their county, the perceived tourism
development in the region, their visions and product ideas.

                                     Counties connected to the SNP
  Who             Position    Importance of             Tourism         Visions for the     Product ideas
                             tourism for the       development in the        SNP
                                  county                 region
Andres        Pärnu County     Tourism is              The influence       Stronger          Enhanced means
Metsoja       Government -     extremely               of tourism has      cooperation       of interpretation
170
              Chairman of      important for the       grown in the        between local     Renovation of the
              the Board        Pärnu County            past few years      entrepreneurs     Visitor Centre
                               Tourism is very         and is still        Linking of the    Improvement of
                               important for the       growing             SNP to other      infrastructure
                               life quality of         Tourism has         regions in        Employing forest
                               locals and the          gained in           order to          guards that can

170
      See Appendix 2.1.
                                                     38

                              local economy           importance for       spread the        show visitors
                              Trend towards           locals               tourism           around
                              nature tourism          Tourism              More quality
                              benefits the city       increases local      products
                              tourism as              income
                              tourists do city
                              trips in between
                              their nature
                              experiences
Urmas         Pärnu County    Tourism plays a         After Tallinn,       Preserving
Kase171       Government –    very big role for       Pärnu is now         the natural
              Development     Pärnu                   the second           values
              and Planning    The SNP is a            destination          Keeping the
              Department      very important          when it comes        environment
                              destination as it       to the amount        clean
                              is the only NP in       of tourists it       Tourism stays
                              the county              receives             within the
                              90% of the              The Pärnu            carrying
                              visitors to the         Tourism Board        capacity of
                              SNP come from           was formed last      the SNP
                              Pärnu                   year, which          Joining PAN
                                                      helped draw          Parks
                                                      the tourists out     Becoming an
                                                      of Pärnu and         UNESCO site
                                                      therefore            Better quality
                                                      decrease the         of life of the
                                                      pressure on the      local people
                                                      city
                                                      Tourists are
                                                      now offered an
                                                      increasing
                                                      number of day
                                                      trips to
                                                      destinations
                                                      outside of
                                                      Pärnu


All in all, tourism is extremely important for the Pärnu County. The visions for the SNP stand
in relation to nature conservation, an increased cooperation between local entrepreneurs, an
enhanced quality of the life of the local population as well as improved tourism products.
Generally, regarding the tourism products in the SNP, interpretational means and improved
tourism infrastructure are seen to be lacking.

        4.2.3. Municipalities connected to the Soomaa National Park
The heads of the municipalities of Tori, Paikuse, Suure-Jaani, Viljandi and Kopu were
interviewed in regards to their role in the context of the SNP, the importance of tourism to
their municipality, the perceived tourism development in the region, as well as their visions
and product ideas.

                                 Municipalities connected to the SNP
  Who             Position    Importance of            Tourism           Visions for the     Product ideas
                             tourism for the      development in the          SNP
                               municipality              region
Enda          Head of Tori     Tori is the gate       The numbers of       An increased      Improved public
Link172       Municipality     to Soomaa              tourists have        number of         transportation
                               Many                   risen                visitors to the
                               community              The economic         NP
                               members are            income through       Better quality
                               involved in            tourism has          of life for
                               tourism                increased            local people

171
      See Appendix 2.2.
172
      See Appendix 3.1.
                                                   39

                              Tourism is an        Cooperation
                              important source     between
                              of income            tourism
                                                   stakeholders
                                                   has increased
                                                   in the past
                                                   years
Kumo        Head of           Tourism only         Tourism             Increased        Establishment of
Erkman      Paikuse           makes up around      numbers have        tourism          more trails
173
            Municipality      5% of the            increased in the    benefits for     Improved
                              industry             past years          local            logistics and
                              Tourism will be                          communities      infrastructure
                              one of the focal                         through the      Establishment of
                              points in the                            proximity to     a sight-seeing
                              coming years                             the SNP          tower
                                                                       Increased        Facility offering
                                                                       number of        local food
                                                                       people           Possibility to
                                                                       moving to the    purchase local,
                                                                       region           traditional
                                                                                        products
Tonu        Head of Kopu      Up till now it is    In 2 years time,    That             No specific ideas,
Kiviloo     Municipality      not that             tourism             agriculture      what is missing is
174
                              important            numbers and         will stay        appropriate
                              Each village in      income will         present in the   administrative
                              the Kopu             have increased      region           procedures and
                              Municipality has                         Public           planning
                              the perspective                          services (e.g.
                              of being                                 schools)
                              involved in                              should
                              tourism                                  maintain their
                              The number of                            position
                              people employed                          There should
                              by tourism is                            be a synergy
                              relatively low, of                       in the tourism
                              the 800 people                           sector when
                              living in the                            tourism
                              Kopu                                     numbers
                              Municipality,                            increase
                              only about 10 are                        The
                              employed in                              establishment
                              tourism                                  of a Visitor
                                                                       Centre in the
                                                                       old dairy
                                                                       factory in
                                                                       Kopu
Leili       Representative    Tourism is rather    The number of       More target      The number of
Kuusk175    of Suure- Jaani   a side activity      tourists to the     based            trails in the NP
            Municipality      Only some single     SNP has grown       products in      could be
                              entrepreneurs                            the SNP          increased and
                              offer                                    Creation of      tallied to various
                              accommodation                            more local       user groups
                                                                       income
                                                                       opportunities
                                                                       Enhanced
                                                                       number of
                                                                       people
                                                                       moving to the
                                                                       area
Reevo       Union of          Each village has     The tourism         Improved         A lot of room for
Maidla      Viljandi local    different types of   development         road systems     imagination and
176
            municipalities    tourism activities   has been                             product
                              taking place,        relatively stable                    development

173
    See Appendix 3.2.
174
    See Appendix 3.3.
175
    See Appendix 3.4.
176
    See Appendix 3.5.
                                                        40

                                  some offer             in the past few
                                  events which are       years
                                  only locally           A contributing
                                  known, while           factor to the
                                  others attract a       increased
                                  wider range of         tourism
                                  people                 development in
                                                         the area was
                                                         that Estonia
                                                         became an EU
                                                         member
                                                         EU Funds
                                                         supported the
                                                         countries
                                                         development


Giving a resume of the interview results, in most municipalities, tourism is primarily a side
activity in which some community members involve. Visions focus on a better quality of life
of local people, increasing tourism benefits for locals and an amounting number of people
moving to the area. Regarding the tourism products of the SNP, the infrastructure takes in
most of the criticism, while the lack of hiking trails and traditional products is also mentioned.

        4.2.4. NGOs of the region
The ‘Green Riverland Organisation’ focuses on the SNP and the wider region which
encompasses part of the Viljandi, Pärnu and Rapla County.
The organisation ‘Friends of Soomaa’ organisation is more specifically focused on the SNP. It
was founded in order to conduct administrative works, sustain the natural features of the
Soomaa region as well as support local communities. The organisation offers a lot of
workshops for locals which stand in relation to the traditions of the area. These include
making cream, baking bread, making honey, cutting hay and storing it appropriately over
winter.

Dagmar Hoder, the project leader and chairman of the management board of the Tipu Nature
School was interviewed. The association for the development of the nature school tries to
reach people of all ages; children, teenagers as well as adults. It aims at initiating encounters
between people and nature. Village development, communication and interaction will be
strived for. The project is about involving people in local development; the work of the
association has a strong cultural focus. One village house will serve as facility and assembly
to bring people together.

The three interviewees answer to questions in relation the role of tourism in the organisation,
the perceived tourism development in the region, their visions and product ideas.

                                                      NGOs
  Who              Position     Role of tourism in      Tourism            Visions for the SNP    Product ideas
                                 the organisation    development in
                                                       the region
Meerle        Green Riverland       Tourism plays        Tourism              Stronger interest   Services should
Adams177      Organisation          a very               developme            in the SNP of       be provided in
                                    important role       nt is on a           visitors            packages
                                                         new level            Packages offering
                                                         More                 natural and
                                                         cooperation          cultural features
                                                         between              of the park
                                                         stakeholder          Increased local
                                                         s of the NP          income through

177
      See Appendix 4.1.
                                                          41

                                                          Cooperatio     tourism
                                                          n of service
                                                          providers
                                                          has
                                                          improved
Tiina         Friends of             Tourism plays        Tourism        The park will        Accommodation
Korts178      Soomaa                 a very               numbers        stay as peaceful     facilities for
                                     important role       have           and quiet as it is   larger groups
                                                          increased      Well-conserved       Food
                                                          steadily       flora and fauna      establishments
Dagmar        Tipu Nature        -                    -                  That encounters      Guided tours,
Hoder179      School – Project                                           between people       satisfying
              leader and                                                 and nature will      specific interests
              Chairman of                                                initiate a change    Increased
              management                                                 in perspective       educative and
              board                                                                           interpretive
                                                                                              materials
                                                                                              Improvement of
                                                                                              the infrastructure
                                                                                              Catering facilities
                                                                                              Accommodation
                                                                                              for larger groups
                                                                                              Workshops on
                                                                                              hand-made crafts
                                                                                              or foods


Summarizing the interviews with the members of the NGOs, it becomes apparent that tourism
has become one of the main issues they deal with. Their visions for the NP stand in relation to
the conservation of its natural and cultural features. Furthermore, it is hoped that tourists will
show a bigger interest in the NP itself in future. When talking about missing tourism products,
accommodation facilities for larger groups are mentioned, food establishments,
interpretational means as well as specialized guided tours.

    History/ legends of the SNP
When talking about the history of the park, it is mentioned that the problem is that the park is
very much left deserted by humans and therefore doesn’t offer any cultural features. In former
times, many villages were located next to the rivers and the traditional Estonian farmhouses
were huge, having kitchen, dormitories, stalls etc. under one roof. The lifestyles of the people
were dependent on the floods and one-log boats were a tradition that nowadays looses its
importance. People used to hike to cities in order to get petroleum or salt in winter, as the
bogs were frozen and therefore it was possible to walk over them. During the war, many
people left Soomaa involuntarily. People from rich villages were often deported to Siberia,
many villages were killed during battles and a lot of men died in the war or never returned to
their villages. In the Soviet times the local population lost all its belongings. Now they got
their land back but it has become part of a national park. Therefore, they are not allowed to
cultivate it anymore. Some regions have also been declared bird areas which are not allowed
to be entered and therefore they face all kinds of restrictions on their own land.

       4.2.5. Tourism Boards
Annely Kesküll gives an overview of the importance of the SNP for the Tourism Information
Centre in Pärnu. Furthermore, she reveals her knowledge on the tourism development in the
region and states her visions and product ideas for the SNP.




178
      See Appendix 4.2.
179
      See Appendix 4.3.
                                                          42

                                                 Tourism Boards
  Who          Position      Role in relation to         Tourism          Visions for the SNP      Product ideas
                                  the SNP             development in
                                                        the region
Annely      Pärnu Tourism       SNP is one of the        Tourism              Sustainability        Improvement of
Kesküll     Information         main natural             development          should stay a         public transport
180
            Centre              destinations in          is strongly          strong point          Increased number
                                the county of            influenced           The SNP is the        of
                                Pärnu                    by changes           jewel of the          accommodation
                                People living in         in the world         region and it has     facilities
                                cities often visit       The number           to be preserved
                                the SNP                  of tourists to       well
                                                         Pärnu                Further
                                                         County has           cooperation
                                                         increased in         with the Green
                                                         the past             Riverland
                                                         years                Organisation


The Tourism Information Centre in Pärnu makes clear that the SNP is one of the main natural
destinations in the county. Its visions in relation to the SNP involve improved nature
preservation and a focus on sustainable practices in the NP. Lacking tourism products are
stated to be accommodation facilities and public transport.

        4.2.6. Tour operators in and around the Soomaa National Park
The various tour operators (TOs) in and around the SNP primarily offer activities like
canoeing, kayaking, hiking, bog shoeing and saunas. During in-depth interviews, some of
these TOs give their opinion on what is of interest to tourists to the SNP, their perception of
the ideal type of tourists as well as their visions and product ideas.

                                                   Tour operators
  Who          Position      Opinion on what is        Perception of      Visions for the SNP     Tourism product
                            of interest to tourists   the ideal tourist                                 ideas
Aavo        Local TO –           Wilderness                Individuals       That is stays a        Accommodation
Hansber     Edela Loodus         Experiences in            are the           unique and whole       Food services
g181        Matkad Ou            nature                    most              territory with all     Improvement of
                                                           challenging       its natural and        infrastructure
                                                           as they           cultural features
                                                           often have        Every visitor
                                                           specific          should get the
                                                           interests         best of it
                                                                             Better
                                                                             cooperation of
                                                                             stakeholders
                                                                             Known on a
                                                                             European level
                                                                             Well regulated
                                                                             tourism activities
Aivar       Local TO            Natural features                             More economic          Intense canoe
Ruukel                          Wilderness                                   activity               building
182
                                experiences                                  Decrease in            workshop
                                                                             seasonality            Nature viewing
                                                                             Develop tourism        Animal spotting
                                                                             in harmony with        More
                                                                             other economic         interpretational
                                                                             activities             means
                                                                             Support nature         Cultural products,
                                                                             conservation           like various
                                                                             aims                   traditional crafts

180
    See Appendix 5.1.
181
    See Appendix 6.1.
182
    See Appendix 6.2.
                                               43

                                                             Improvement of       Establishment
                                                             quality of life of   offering local
                                                             people living        food
                                                             within the park
                                                             The cultural
                                                             identity of the NP
                                                             and the people
                                                             should be
                                                             restored
Argo        Local TO –      Discovering        Someone       Nature stays         Improved
Linnama     Freedom of      untouched nature   who wants     untouched            infrastructure
e183        Adventure       Seeing bogs        to discover   Tourism is           Animal spotting
                            SNP has a strong   Soomaa’s      regulated
                            brand name         natural and   effectively
                                               cultural      Higher quality of
                                               features      visitors to the
                                               Has respect   SNP
                                               for what is
                                               offered to
                                               him
Silver      Local TO -      Nature             Someone       Active               Cultural
Sams184     Tori            Animal spotting    who is able   communities in       historical sites,
            Matkakeskus     Fifth season       and willing   the SNP              like settlements
                            90% of the         to pay for    The SNP should       left behind in the
                            visitors come      individual    stay untouched       20s
                            from Tallinn and   guidance      and conserved        Improved
                            seek sports        Independen    Better               infrastructure
                            activities         t people or   communication
                                               groups of 2   between the
                                               or 3 people   responsible
                                               Value and     boards
                                               respect       Activities in the
                                               nature        NP should be
                                               Stays for a   regulated
                                               longer        Cultural,
                                               period of     historical sites
                                               time          should be
                                                             protected
                                                             Improved
                                                             infrastructure
Algirdas    Independent     Experiences in                   Natural and          More extreme
- Andrus    Tourism Guide   nature                           cultural features    bog shoeing
Martsoo                     Seeing bogs and                  are well             walks and hikes
185
                            meadows                          preserved            Discovering
                            Involving in                     Local identity is    abandoned
                            activities                       kept alive           villages
                                                             Better               Discovering
                                                             cooperation of       legends and
                                                             stakeholders         stories of the
                                                             Increasing local     SNP
                                                             income through
                                                             tourism
                                                             Improved
                                                             infrastructure
                                                             Increasing
                                                             number of
                                                             foreign tourists,
                                                             entrepreneurs that
                                                             are more fluent in
                                                             foreign languages




183
    See Appendix 6.3.
184
    See Appendix 6.4.
185
    See Appendix 6.5.
                                                         44

When outlining the interview results of the TOs, their main visions for the SNP stand in
relation to the conservation of its flora and fauna. Moreover, a better monitoring system for
visitors, an amounting number of international tourists and higher quality products is hoped
for. When it comes to the preferred or ‘ideal’ type of tourist, an individual traveller that is
truly interested in the NP and respects it and stays for a longer period of time is desired.
Missing products are mentioned to be accommodation and food establishments, cultural
products, specified guided tours and an improved infrastructure.

    History/ legends of the SNP
When asked about Soomaa’s history, a few declared that Soomaa doesn’t really have a
history. The only references were made to the one-log boats which stand in connection to the
50s and the high water season that affected the people a lot in the past. Also it was said that
many abandoned villages with a historical flair exist in the park, but only the few locals living
in the SNP can tell stories about these. In this sense, it was also proclaimed that the SNP lacks
offering interpretational means to its visitors.

        4.2.7. Accommodation providers in and around the Soomaa National Park
Most of the accommodation owners interviewed solely provide accommodation, while some
also offer a variety of activities like canoeing. They often have cooperation with TOs and
catering services in order to satisfy the needs of the clients.
The accommodation providers give their opinion on what is of interest to tourists to the SNP,
their perception of the ideal type of tourists as well as their visions and product ideas.

                                           Accommodation providers
  Who          Position       Opinion on what is       Perception of the     Visions for the SNP    Tourism product
                             of interest to tourists     ideal tourist                                    ideas
Hitti       Local                 Individuals come        Families that          That the number       A more
Sosi186     accommodatio          to involve in           stay 1-2 weeks         of clients I          functioning
            n and trips –         activities like                                receive stays         Visitor Centre
            Veelaager             canoeing and to                                stable                More free
                                  see the swamps                                                       interpretational
                                  Companies come                                                       materials for
                                  to have parties                                                      visitors
Aimar       Local accom. –        Experience              The                    That the own          Cycling routes
Kuill187    Junisi                nature                  independent            enterprise grows      Skiing
                                  Seeing bogs and         travellers we          bigger                Snow scooters
                                  flat meadows            receive are
                                  Seeing the fifth        those that visit
                                  season                  the SNP
                                                          The groups
                                                          organise parties
                                                          or involve in
                                                          activities like
                                                          paintball
                                                          shooting
                                                          Both types are
                                                          good for us
Katrin      Local accom. –       Estonians come           High spending          Protecting the        Possibilities of
Ruumet      Klaara- Manni        in large groups          power                  natural heritage      getting
188
            Puhkemaja            or with families         Older people           Keeping the           acquainted
                                 Large groups             and families           ecosystems            with local
                                 seek entertaining        that have a            intact                people
                                 activities, want         higher level of        Preserving a          Cultural
                                 to get an                education              healthy               products
                                 overview of the          People that            environment for


186
    See Appendix 7.1.
187
    See Appendix 7.2.
188
    See Appendix 7.3.
                                                    45

                               NP                   value nature     all flora and
                               Foreigners are       People that      fauna
                               mostly               respect the      The SNP should
                               individuals, they    destination      be protected as a
                               know exactly                          unit in order to
                               what they are                         maintain one
                               coming for and                        ‘face’
                               have specific                         Communication
                               activities in                         between
                               mind, they care                       stakeholders
                               for the                               should improve
                               environment and
                               try not to harm it
Keili         Local accom. –   Natural features     Someone that     Nature stays        Hotel spas in
Rändvee       Riisa Ranjo      Day trips            is open and      freely accessible   Pärnu could
189
                                                    likes personal   Management of       offer day trips
                                                    contact          the NP is           to the SNP
                                                                     transparent
                                                                     Reduction of
                                                                     market conflicts
                                                                     Improved
                                                                     communication
                                                                     between
                                                                     stakeholders
Marika        Local accom. –   Nature               Loyal clients    Less seasonality    Restaurant
Laidna        Ponka            Activities like      People that      in tourism          offering local
& Raivo                        canoeing or          respect their    SNP becomes a       food
Olesk190                       hiking               environment      member of PAN       Hand-made
                                                                     Parks               arts and crafts


Summing up the interview results of the accommodation establishments, their visions deal
with the protection of the natural heritage of the SNP, a decreasing seasonality of tourism,
improved communication between stakeholders, as well as a growing or stable amount of
clients. It is told that tourists primarily come to see the natural resources of the SNP and
involve in different activities in nature. The ideal type of tourist is perceived to be individual
travellers and families, that have a higher level of education, respect the environment and stay
for longer periods of time. It is mentioned that cultural products as well as the possibility to
get acquainted with local people is lacking in the SNP. Moreover, possibilities to purchase
local food as well as interpretational materials are perceived to be missing.

    History/ legends of the SNP
Many of the interviewees don’t know anything specific about the history of the SNP. Most
refer to the one-log boats which were used in the 50s.
Marika Laidna says that in Tori there is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the Baltic
States from around the 1730s. She goes on that the problem is that no one really knows about
this building as there is no one who promotes these historical and cultural features of the NP.
Aimar Kuill proclaims that he knows quite a few legends of the area. One of them stands in
relation to the sand dunes in the NP. Apparently a church hid a treasure in these dunes during
the war. Since then, there have been many treasure hunters trying to find it, but as the treasure
is cursed there are always things happening to the treasure seekers. Some had problems with
their car, while others had some other kind of accident that prevented them from finding the
treasure. So up till now, no one has found the treasure because the curse is too strong. It is
said that one man knew where the treasure is. He was going to reveal the mystery if his
daughter got married, but she never did and now that the old man is dead, no one is going to
find out. When treasure hunters give up and come back, they sometimes bring coins with
them, which they found in the dunes, but that’s all.

189
      See Appendix 7.4.
190
      See Appendix 7.5.
                                                 46

    4.3. Interview results
The most relevant information for the subsequent chapter, dealing with the tourism potential
of the SNP and the development of PMCs, can be drawn from the statements made in relation
to what is perceived to be of interest to tourists, the perceptions of the ideal type of tourist and
the ideas on tourism products that are missing in the SNP. Furthermore, the visions give an
indication on what type of development is hoped for and thereby also offers input to the
development of the PMCs. The other elements, relating to the tourism development of the
region and the importance of tourism for a certain county or municipality, relate to chapter 3
(background analysis) in which tourism as an economic activity is dealt with.

By all interviewees, the ‘ideal’ tourist was described to be an environmentally aware person
that respects nature. Further characteristics that were mentioned more often were an educated
person with a high spending power, who stays for a longer period of time. The majority of
interviewees stated that they preferred individual travellers and families over groups of
friends or companies that often organised parties. Individuals and families were perceived to
fit better into the context of a NP because the harm to the environment is reduced and fewer
disturbances take place.

Tourism products that were suggested by the interviewed stakeholders primarily stood in
relation to improving the infrastructure and public transport. Furthermore, many proclaimed
that the Visitor Centre needed to offer more information material and interpretational means.
Regarding new products, the main ideas that came up were establishing more accommodation
facilities within the SNP and, as there are no possibilities to purchase food within the NP, an
establishment that offers local food was regarded as important.
Other suggestions focused on guided tours tailored to specific interests, like for example bird
watching. This proposal was made because many visitors come to the SNP with a specific
interest and it is often a problem to satisfy their needs as experts in certain fields’ lack. Like
shown in chapter 3, the SNP is a wetland of international importance and was proclaimed an
IIBA. Thereby it has good preconditions to become a destination for bird-watching.

Some of the interviewees are of the opinion that there is too much overlap and competition
between the different TOs and therefore there should be only one specialist in one field, and
not more. The cooperation of local stakeholders was also regarded as very important and
especially TOs and accommodation providers were suggested to work together in creating
packages for tourists. Another idea was employing a number of guards which should be in
charge of the environment and roads and could show the visitors around.

Cultural products were often mentioned to be missing. Ideas in this regard involved selling
local arts and crafts to tourists or offering workshops on traditional products. Furthermore, the
possibility of getting acquainted with local people was suggested or learning about traditional
ways of living and hearing stories about abandoned villages.
                                               47

    4.4. Conclusion
Concluding this chapter, it becomes apparent that the main aspects of criticism of the
interviewed stakeholders regarding the SNP often overlap. Conscious of the fact that
something has to be done in order to enhance the competitiveness and appeal of the
destination, many have thought of possibilities that could lead to improvements.

When it comes to marketing the ‘right’ type of tourist to the SNP, the majority of the
interviewed stakeholders prefer to focus on an educated and environmentally aware tourist
that has a high spending power and stays for a longer period of time. This reveals that the
natural and cultural environment is of importance to the stakeholders; tourists dedicated to
nature and culture are preferred as they expect a certain quality and go in line with protecting
and conserving the NP.

Many stakeholders state that developing products with a cultural focus would give the NP a
new angle. A cultural product could be offered in form of a workshop on traditional foods or
crafts. Also, an establishment selling local arts and crafts to tourists that want to take a
souvenir home is suggested. Furthermore, a couple of stakeholders mention that tourists often
seek the possibility to get acquainted with local people, which is hardly possible in the SNP as
it is lacking human resources.
A solution for the lack of cultural products is offered by an insight the interviewed
stakeholders give into the diversity of interesting stories about the former lifestyle of the
inhabitants of the SNP; they reveal various legends. These stories and legends can be
implemented in order to approach the NP from a cultural angle and enhance the tourist’s
experience by giving storylines and creating a sense of place. As tourists often miss cultural
products and interactions with locals, a cultural product like a tour guided by a local who is
telling stories about former times has potential.
Regarding food, most stakeholders make clear that having a facility like a restaurant or a café
offering food is profitable in the high season, though during the months of the low season it
will be difficult to keep up. A product like this is very dependent on the season and therefore
ways to outgo seasonality have to be found.

It becomes apparent that most of the stakeholders aim at improving the quality of the NP and
its products. The focus is on developing a sustainable tourism rather than solely increasing the
tourism numbers. A broader product range, especially with a cultural angle to it, is perceived
to satisfy the demand and attract desired markets.
                                                48

5. Chapter – Tourism potential of the Soomaa National Park
    5.1. Introduction
‘What is the tourism potential of the Soomaa National Park’ is the question dealt with in this
chapter. An overview of the existing tourism supply and demand of the SNP is given as well
as of the competitiveness of the destination. Also, the current market trends are analysed and
potential markets to the SNP are discussed. This chapter then terminates with suggestions for
PMCs.


    5.2. Existing tourism supply
    Attractions
The SNP is attracting tourists primarily with its diverse natural resources. It is a wetland of
international importance, offering the largest untouched plateau bog in Estonia. Its various
ecosystems encompass river floodplains, floodplain forests, floodplain grasslands, peatland
forests, paludified forests and river streams. The different landscapes like dunes, lakes, mires,
forests and meadows give the SNP many different faces.

The SNP encompasses a great diversity of flora and also has a manifold animal life; it is
appointed as an IIBA. The majority of tourists come in order to experience the complex
natural environment of the NP.

The SNP furthermore encompasses quite a few cultural and historical resources. As the local
people have always been exposed to natural conditions like the yearly flood, many features of
their lifestyles can still be encountered. As explained in chapter 3, log boats were used in
order to get around during the flood. Today it is possible for a tourist to engage in a log boat
building workshop in order to experience part of the culture.
Also, in former times every farm built its own bridge in order to have a crossing during the
flood and some of these bridges that were especially built to cope with the flood can still be
seen. Like the bridges and their stories, the many villages, abandoned during the Soviet times,
and further cultural sites like remains of farms that resemble the former lifestyles of people,
aren’t marketed to tourists. Tourism products with a cultural angle are rather rudimentary in
the SNP, even though many sites and their stories exist.

    Facilities
The Visitor Centre of the SNP is situated in Toramaa, which lies in the centre of the NP. It is
located in a nice setting, close to many walks and hiking trails. It enables visitors of the SNP
to obtain information on Soomaa and encompasses a few displays offering information in
Estonian, a variety of stuffed animals, photographic panels of the natural values of the SNP as
well as books, videos and slide shows. Overall, the means of interpretation offered are very
limited. Information is predominately provided in Estonian, lacking translations in common
foreign languages. Furthermore, the means to increase the visitor’s experience are very poor.
No interpretational materials that are appealing to the senses are implied, which makes the
establishment rather dreary. Apart from the fact that most of the information is provided
solely in Estonian, it is not presented in a catchy way. The displays that exist contain some
pictures to support the messages but they are not arranged very well, having too much text on
one display.

In the SNP many activities give the tourist the opportunity to have an experience in nature.
Tourists can choose from a variety of different activities offered by various TOs. Regarding
the tourism activities, the river is a major tourism resource as many activities are related to it.
Organised or self-guided canoeing trips can be undertaken during the months of April till
                                                         49

October. Further activities are mushroom picking tours, beaver safaris, bog walks as well as
ice fishing, snowshoe walking, saunas and cross-country skiing in winter. Apart from booking
tours, tourists can also undertake activities like canoeing or hiking independently. Also, a few
watching towers give tourists the possibility to spot animals191. As it is not possible to book
any package tours, the tourists have to undertake something independently or inform
themselves about the activities the various local TOs offer and decide on which activity they
would like to undertake with which specific TO.
While many different tourism activities exist and the Visitor Centre is soon going to be
renovated, some essential facilities in the SNP are lacking. No possibilities to purchase food
and beverages exist and there are only few accommodation facilities within the NP.
Momentarily, a couple of overnight facilities, which usually have around 20 to 40 beds for
individuals and smaller groups, exist as well as some campsites. Some accommodation
providers offer rooms, while others provide cottages. Regarding the quality, the
accommodations are mostly basic but designed and decorated in a traditional and very warm
and welcoming way.

    Infrastructure
Regarding the infrastructure in the SNP, there are only a few roads leading in and out of the
NP. On the one hand, these roads make the accessibility to the NP difficult because they are
very bumpy and dusty and therefore many stakeholders hope for their improvement. On the
other hand, the roads fit into the context of a NP and support creating a sense of place,
contributing to an overall experience of adventure. Moreover, the communication means like
telephone connections and mobile reception have also been criticised by many stakeholders.
This is especially problematic regarding accidents and further security issues in the NP.
The SNP furthermore offers a variety of hiking tracks, nature trails and board walks, all
equipped with signs indicating the direction. Three types of trails exist; some introduce bog
ecosystems, others forest ecosystems and again others floodplain ecosystems192. They often
lead over board walks or forest ground and give a good insight into the various vegetation
types. While some of these trails offer displays with information on the surrounding
vegetation, flora and fauna, other trails are solely indicated with signs on the trees for visitors
that like to experience the purity and solitude of the natural environment without sensing any
human interaction. Some stakeholders are of the opinion that a greater variety of trails should
be built with varying degrees of difficulty in order to appeal to different types of tourists.

    Transport
Modes of travel to Estonia and the surrounding region of the SNP are various. The modes to
travel into the NP and within the NP are lacking though. Momentarily, no efficient public
transport system to and within the NP exists and the only option for tourists that want to visit
the SNP are either tour buses or travelling independently with a car.

    Hospitality
Hospitality is difficult to analyse as it is a very subjective issue, also depending on one’s own
cultural background.
As there are only approximately 87 people living in the SNP, interactions of tourists and
locals are very scarce. Responsible for the comfort of tourists are therefore primarily the
accommodation providers and the TOs, which are friendly and enthusiastic about what they
do. Generally though, the local people of the NP are shy, but very kind and welcoming. Their
character fits into the context of the NP, which is calm and peaceful. Due to the small number

191
    Soomaa National Park, http://www.soomaa.ee/?setlang=eng, 03.12.2008; Estonica,
http://www.estonica.org/eng/lugu.html?menyy_id=573&kateg=10&alam=71&leht=4, 03.12.2008
192
    Soomaa National Park, Management plan of Soomaa National Park 2000-2010, Viljandi, 2000, p.30-31
                                                           50

of inhabitants and the limited number of tourists in the SNP, one often finds oneself in
solitude. The abandoned villages that can be discovered while taking a hike give a feeling of
mysticism and make the tourist wonder about the stories that are attached to them. The
distinct natural and cultural landscapes of the SNP entangle the tourist and make him
experience a sense for or connection to the destination.


    5.3. Existing tourism demand
Generally, as described in 3.5.3, the highest demand of both domestic and foreign visitors to
the SNP exists in the months of April till October. The tourism demand can therefore be
regarded as very seasonal.
Regarding the types of demand, the ‘effective’ or ‘actual’ demand of tourists to the SNP are
of importance to this research. Because the knowledge on existing markets is very limited, the
focal point is primarily on determining potential markets. This will be dealt with in 5.6.


    5.4. Competitiveness
The SNP is distinctive enough to appeal to various market segments and has the potential for
further sustainable development. Its USP lies in its natural resources. The SNP is a wetland of
international importance and is unique in terms of its various distinct species of fauna and
flora. Its strong points are its attractions, which are indispensable when it comes to attracting
tourists. As “the mere presence of facilities and other services by themselves will not bring
visitors”, attractions must be present for this to occur”193. They “draw visitors from their
homes”, while “facilities are necessary to serve these visitors away from home”194. Therefore,
as the attractions of the SNP are appealing due to their distinctiveness, in order to enhance its
tourism potential, the SNP has to focus on the other elements of the destination mix which
will help the NP establish a stronger position on the market. Though, the enhancement of the
tourism potential of the SNP not only lies in the improvement of its facilities, the amendment
of its infrastructure, the upgrading of transport possibilities and the dealing with hospitality
issues, tourism product development can also be beneficial. Integrating interpretational means
in the product development can enhance the tourist’s experience.
A marketing opportunity for the SNP is bird- watching, as the SNP is inhabited by various
bird species that are listed in the ERDB and was furthermore proclaimed an IIBA. Because of
the limited human activities in the SNP and the solitude, it offers good conditions for bird-
watchers to spot birds.
According to stakeholder interviews, especially cultural products are perceived to be missing
in the SNP. Currently, the SNP is mainly about experiencing nature and it should stay that
way as its natural features are its USP. But implying cultural features in the product
development could initiate a greater atmosphere and sense of place, and thereby a better
tourist experience. The ‘hardware’ of the SNP is there, but the ‘software’ can be worked on
by creating more atmosphere and sense of place. The SNPs culture can easily be used in order
to experience its nature, as nature and culture are in accordance with each other in any case.
The nature could be experienced in a cultural setting, while for example floating on the river
in a one-log boat or on a guided hike during which the guide tells legends and stories about
the SNP and the abandoned villages that lie next to the path. The experience would be more
authentic and things wouldn’t be shown to tourists but rather experienced by them. A
narrative context can be an important means to create atmosphere. In this way, the SNP could
offset itself from other NPs. It is furthermore important that locals do the guiding and story-

193
    Mill, Robert Christie & Morrison, Alastair M., The Tourism System, Kendall/ Hunt Publishing Company, Fifth Edition,
2006, p.23
194
    Id., p.18
                                                        51

telling as they, in a way, form part of the setting because they have a connection to the SNP
and make the experience more authentic. Implementing a cultural angle in the tourism
products of the SNP would also involve the local community more and could give tourists a
better understanding of entwined relationship of nature and culture. Moreover, as some
tourists are more interested in nature, while others seek culture, a tourism product that
combines nature with culture appeals to both groups.

Especially if necessary facilities are there, then the SNP might become a primary destination
for domestic tourists, who now only come for a few days to celebrate parties or engage in
outdoor activities. However, as the SNP is aiming at a SD, the problem here is whether it is
able to attract the ‘right’ type of tourist, fitting in line with the NP’s conservational objectives.
In order to be able to compete with other NPs, conservational objectives have to be kept up
and more emphasis has to be put on economic and social issues. Tourism is regarded as
positive by the local communities and fits in the overall picture of the NP. But it has to be
focused on a sustainable tourism development in order to make the industry profitable to
various local stakeholders and keep it within the social and ecological CC.

The economic competitiveness of the SNP is rather low. This is due to the low employment
rate, the lack of tourism skills of the local communities and the limited cooperation between
stakeholders of the NP. Furthermore, traditional activities taking place are few. Generally
though, the attitude of the local communities towards tourism is rather positive. The SNP
faces opportunities for further economic development and an enhanced economic
competitiveness. Offering package tours within the SNP, which are assembled by a variety of
stakeholders could lead to a better cooperation within the SNP. It would furthermore be a
good possibility for stakeholders to learn from each other. Also, a greater focus on the cultural
resources of the SNP could lead to more employment opportunities for locals.
Limited is also the social competitiveness of the SNP. The local population of the NP is aging
as many young people move out of the NP into bigger cities. Furthermore, two management
bodies of the NP exist and therefore the managerial structure of the NP isn’t clearly defined. If
one single body was assigned to the management of the NP, not only the task division
wouldn’t cause problems anymore, but also would the locals know exactly who to contact in
case of issues relating to the SNP. The social CC of the SNP is still within its limits and
interactions with tourists and locals hardly ever take place. A few accommodation providers
and TOs are members of the local community, while the majority operates from outside of the
NP. A further indicator for social competitiveness is the sense of place that is being created.
In this regard, the SNP offers only few supportive means. Bringing a cultural angle to the
tourism products of the SNP could contribute to a stronger social competitiveness, as this
would give tourists a taste of Soomaa’s culture and lead to the creation of a sense of place.
Regarding the ecological competitiveness, the SNP has a stable position. The primary reason
for its strong ecological competitiveness is that the USPs of the NP lie in its natural resources
and it is very much focused on their conservation, aiming at a SD. The ecological CC is still
within its limits and the SNP offers intact and untouched nature. In this regard it also has great
potential for a SD. This is a strong marketing point when it comes to tourism, especially as
tourism trends tend towards a greater environmental awareness as well as more meaningful
and authentic experiences. Tourism can therefore support a SD as it can “provide an economic
incentive to conserve natural and cultural assets”195. Moreover, the SNP strives to become a
member of the PAN Parks network, which would support the NP in creating a synergy of
tourism and conservation.


195
  The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Sustainable tourism development -
Guiding principles for planning and management, November 2003, p.3
                                                         52

    5.5. Current trends in tourism
    Trend towards international travel
Increasing interconnectedness via various means of transport, like e.g. aircrafts and cruise
ships, enables tourists to travel quicker and more efficiently. “The proliferation of long-haul
air travel has revolutionised global park visitation, with people seeking out World Heritage
Sites, national parks and other protected areas”196.

The following figure shows that international tourism arrivals have steadily increased since
1980 and are expected to grow immensely by 2020. “The WTO predicts that international
travel will grow at the rate of 4.1% annually between now and the year 2020, mostly from
North America, Europe and East Asia”197. In its ongoing, this trend will be influenced by
various aspects, such as “the health of the global economy, security fears due to terrorist
activities and regional instability, and the extremes of global climate change”198.

Diagram VII




  The competition between PAs is great. The SNP therefore has to have tourism potential
  and establish itself a competitive position. Furthermore, the NP has to be known in order
  to benefit from this trend.




196
    IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, Best practice protected area
guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and management, 2002, p.19
197
    Id., p.18
198
    Id., p.18
                                                         53

    Trend towards frequent short trips
‘Time poverty’ is one of the main issues when it comes to current tourism trends. With
increasing globalization and connectedness, the amount of things to do has increased
immensely, while at the same time, people have less time to involve in leisure activities. This
fact rates a shift towards shorter trips; people prefer to take shorter breaks with more
frequency throughout the year. Especially in Europe, people try to collect time which they can
spend later on, on a sabbatical year for example. Nowadays, leisure time itself is regarded as
highly important and the aspects of self-reliance and independence on a trip are gaining in
status. Furthermore, the trend towards booking (especially flights) via the internet has
amounted and is expected to increase further.

  The SNP is a secondary destination for foreign tourists and tourists to Estonia will
  therefore want to see not only the NP but also other sites while they are in the country.
  On the one hand, as time is short, tourists will try to see as much as possible of the
  country in a short time span. The SNP could therefore offer day tours to the NP or try to
  combine a ‘SNP experience’ with other products in the region as a package tour. On the
  other hand, opposing to this trend, the SNP could promote ‘slow travelling’ by offering
  meaningful experiences.

    Trend towards outdoor activities
The level of educational attainment in average has increased on a global level for both sexes.
Changes in tourism have been detected, as a higher level of education leads to a greater
demand for outdoor and recreational activities. The interest in outdoor, experiential and life-
enriching experiences has risen, together with the demand of ‘learning-while-travelling’.
Because protected areas offering natural and cultural resources provide such experiences, they
have become popular travel destinations199.

The trend towards outdoor activities, like hiking, cycling and canoeing has strongly increased.
A high increase of ‘soft’ adventure tourism and ‘hard’ adventure tourism has been rated.
“‘Soft’ activities are those where a more casual, less dedicated approach is taken to the
activity or natural attraction, and a desire to experience it with some basic degree of comfort;
whereas ‘hard’ adventure tourism involves specialist interest or dedicated activity, and a
willingness to experience the outdoors or wilderness with few comforts”.
As PAs offer a good location for outdoor activities, the demand and thereby the challenges of
PAs have grown. The challenge is to unite the tourism demand and conservational objectives
in order to satisfy visitors’ expectations and maintain a healthy environment200.

  The trend towards outdoor activities can be beneficial to the SNP in the sense that the
  interest in the NP might rise. As this tourism trend reveals that tourists tend to seek
  adventurous, experiential and life-enriching experiences in nature, it can be beneficial to
  the SNP as it appeals to these needs and wants with its diversity of outdoor activities.




199
    IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, Best practice protected area
guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and management, 2002, p.13
200
    Id., p.2
                                                         54

    Trend towards more significant experiences
Destinations that “protect the authenticity and geographic character of a place”201 have gained
in popularity. This has also been stated in a research study on ‘Tourism Trends in Europe’ by
the European Travel Commission in September 2006. According to their findings, people
seek deeper and more significant experiences and therefore often engage in ‘new’ types of
tourism, like e.g. volunteer tourism. More emphasis is put on eco-tourism and nature-based
tourism and the contact with local communities plays a meaningful role. The fact that people
are interested in unique destinations and experiences underlines the growing importance of
niche products. In this sense, the sustainability of a product is also gaining in importance.

  This trend can support the STD in the SNP, as the destination strongly focuses on
  conservational objectives and tries to promote eco- tourism. The trend offers the SNP the
  potential for an enhanced tourism income, as it is still a relatively untouched and authentic
  destination. This trend is positive for the SNP, as it indicates that tourists tend to seek
  unique destinations.


    Trend towards an increasing social and environmental awareness
A growing concern of people about social injustices and environmental problems is leading to
a greater interest in sustainable tourism. People are “increasingly aware of the need for low
impact tourism which does not harm the environment”202. The want to support local
community initiatives and conservation objectives has grown as well as the tendency to move
towards a less consumptive lifestyle. Many tourists are especially drawn to destinations that
are known to deal with social and environmental issues positively.

  According to this tourism trend, the fact that the SNP is aiming at a SD makes it appealing
  to certain markets because nowadays an increasing concern of people is dedicated to
  social and environmental problems.


    Evaluation of tourism trends
If these trends come together, they can impact on tourism developments. The trend towards
the importance of having a meaningful experience, which is mostly defined to be a natural or
cultural encounter, is in coherence with the trend towards increasing social and environmental
awareness. In both cases, tourists value the conservation of natural and cultural resources,
authenticity and the SD of the destination. Both of these trends might seduce tourists to travel
‘slower’ in order to be more conscious of their environment and have deeper and more
meaningful experiences. In this sense, the SNP experience could initiate slow travelling,
opposing to the trend of having to experience a lot in a short period of time. In line with these
tendencies is furthermore the trend towards outdoor activities, which resembles a greater
interest in the outdoors. Tourists seek life- enriching experiences and are interested in
‘learning-while-travelling’. Apart from the fact that international travel has become much
easier, this is one of the reasons why some tourists seek to go abroad. They want to learn
something new and encounter different natural and cultural environments.




201
   Randall Travel Marketing Inc., Top 10 Travel and Tourism Trends for 2007– 2008, North Carolina 2008
202
   IUCN – The World Conservation Union & WCPA – World Commission on Protected Areas, Best practice protected area
guidelines series No. 8, Sustainable tourism in protected areas – guidelines for planning and management, 2002, p.20
                                                   55

    SWOT analysis of the tourism supply
                   Strengths               Weaknesses                 Opportunities        Threats
Attractions     Diversity of natural     Predominant focus on          Trend towards      Pollution
                resources                natural resources (no         international      Climate change
                Diversity of cultural    cultural tourism              travel             Increasing
                resources                products offered)             Trend towards      pressure on the
                Wetland of                                             frequent short     environment
                international                                          trips              Degradation of
                importance                                             Trend towards      natural resources
                Pure and intact nature                                 outdoor            and cultural
                Various types of                                       activities         resources
                landscapes                                             Trend towards      Increasing costs
                Manifold flora                                         more significant   for travelling
                Multiple animal                                        experiences        Increasing
                species                                                Trend towards      competition
                “International                                         an increasing      between
                Important Bird Area”                                   social and         destinations
Facilities      Various activities in    Lack of interpretation in     environmental      Market
                nature                   the Visitor Centre of the     awareness          globalization
                                         SNP                           Increasing         Cultural
                                         Establishments for food       demand for         conflicts
                                         and beverages are             ‘rural’ products
                                         lacking                       Exploitation of
                                         Only few                      rising markets
                                         accommodation                 Prevalence of
                                         facilities within the         the euro
                                         SNP
Infra-          Different types of       Difficult to access the
structure       hiking trails            NP (few and rough
                Solitude and             roads)
                roughness of roads       Limited means of
                fits into the context    communication (e.g.
                of the NP                bad mobile reception)
                                         Limited security
                                         precautions (in case of
                                         accidents, etc.)
Transport       Independence of          Modes of travel to the
                driving with the own     SNP (no efficient public
                (or rented) car          transport system to and
                                         within the NP)
Hospitality     Kind and welcoming       Few opportunities for
                accommodation            tourists to get in contact
                providers and TOs        with locals
                                         Lack of sense of place


Concluding the SWOT analysis of the tourism supply of the SNP, one can say that its
strengths lie in its attractions. This shows that the SNP has tourism potential as attractions are
the most important element to draw tourists to a destination. The ‘hardware’ of the SNP is
there, but the ‘software’ is limited. In order to make use of its variety of cultural resources and
contribute to its ‘software’, the SNP could put nature products into a cultural setting in order
to enhance the experience and create a sense of place. Products with a cultural focus could
also appeal to new market segments. Facilities in the SNP are not very developed and
therefore a weakness in the tourism supply; apart from the various activities that are offered,
the tourist is missing interpretational means, accommodation as well as possibilities to
purchase food. As can be seen in the table above, the infrastructure and transport within the
SNP are rather rudimentary. Regarding the hospitality in the SNP, local tourism entrepreneurs
are friendly and welcoming, but the direct contact of locals and tourists is missing and a sense
of place is lacking.
Opportunities for the SNP were determined to be the trends that were evaluated above. These
were primarily committed to the cherishing of a more SD as well as authentic and meaningful
experiences. Threats to the SNP primarily stand in relation to the natural and cultural
resources of the SNP, which form its main asset.
                                                         56

    5.6. Potential markets
In order to determine the most suitable and potential markets for the SNP, the most
appropriate method of segmentation has to be determined.
As hardly any data exists on the current tourism markets to the SNP, their characteristics
cannot be evaluated. Generally, the Estonian Tourism Board predominantly analyses markets
according to their socio-demographic, geographic and psychographic characteristics. Though,
in case of the SNP, it is hard to decide for example upon the most potential age group, origin,
gender or occupation of tourists. The SNP is appealing to various age groups, both genders
and tourists of various origins and occupations. In this case, segmentation is therefore not
according to what characteristics the tourists with the most potential to visit the SNP have, it’s
about segmenting tourists according to what they want, need and expect from the NP. It’s
about experiences. Experiences are perceived differently and individuals can therefore be
segmented according to their differing needs and wants and expectations towards various
things when they go on a vacation. Regarding the SNP, benefit segmentation is the most
suitable way of segmentation as it is “based on differences in specific benefits different
groups of consumers look for in a product”203. Hereby, “different audiences for different
perceived benefits”204 can be determined and experiences that satisfy various markets with
differing expectations can be created.

In the following, a description of various typologies is given. “Typologies are simplified
versions of a complex reality”205. They are not “an accurate description of reality, typologies
had better be regarded as tendencies or idealised pictures”206. These typologies stand in
relation to behaviours, interests and experiences of tourists and segment the market based on
them.
In 5.7 tourism products are developed and the most potential market segments are combined
with these to form PMCs.

    Typology based on tourist behaviour
Concerning the typology based on tourist behaviour, one can distinguish between six broad
categories, ranging from one extreme to the other.
The ‘organised mass tourist’ is the type of tourist that “buys a package tour from a TO in his
home country”207. The package tour encompasses transport, accommodation, guiding as well
as insurance and the destination itself offers a high level of tourist facilities.
The ‘individual mass tourist’ “also looks for a destination with a high level of facilities that is
geared to the mass arrival of tourists”208. Though, the ‘organised mass tourist’ doesn’t utilise
all of the services offered by the TO, as he prefers to do it himself. He usually travels in a
small group of family members or friends.
The ‘organised traveller’ on the other hand “books a package tour inclusive of all the
ingredients”209, but he decides for destinations that are not characterised by their high level of
facilities. “He wants to be a traveller, to discover continents, to experience the unspoilt”210.
This type of tourist primarily travels in small groups.
The ‘organised adventurer’ “books a package tour in which, in addition to transport and
accommodation, a great deal of physical activities are included”211. Travelling in a small

203
    BNET Business Dictionary, Benefit Segmentation, http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/benefit-
segmentation.html, 11.06.09
204
    Answers.com, Benefit Segmentation, http://www.answers.com/topic/benefit-segmentation, 11.06.09
205
    Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, Second Edition, 2005, p.92
206
    Id., p.92
207
    Id., p.92
208
    Id., p.94
209
    Id., p.95
210
    Id., p.95
211
    Id., p.97
                                                         57

group, he chooses to visit destinations with “suitable conditions to engage in adventurous or
active pursuits”212, like mountains, canyons, etc.
The ‘individual traveller’ or ‘backpacker’ “arranges the trip himself” and mostly travels with
a partner, friend or accidental fellow traveller. He is primarily lead by travel literature. This
type of traveller are mainly “young people, the mode being the early twenties, and have on
average a high level of education”213.
The ‘pioneer’ “visits regions on which travel guides are not yet available”214. Apart from a
few guest houses, the destinations he chooses don’t have any tourism facilities. “The pioneer
is destined to pave the way for the backpacker and the organised traveller”. He is “a born
individualist; there is no other category that is typified by such a large proportion of people
travelling alone”215.

  The ‘organised mass tourist’ and the ‘individual mass tourist’ have low potential in
  visiting the SNP as they usually book package tours to destinations that are prepared to
  receive a high number of visitors and provide a high level of facilities; the SNP isn’t
  equipped for these types of tourists. The ‘organised mass tourist’ would not be desirable
  to attract to the SNP. The SNP would have to establish a high level of facilities to satisfy
  the desires of the ‘organised mass tourist’, which, together with the large groups this
  tourist travels in, could harm the environment and spoil the sense of place. Even though
  the ‘individual mass tourist’ usually travels in a small group of family members or
  friends, he would also not be a suitable target market for the SNP as the NP would have to
  serve a high level of facilities to appeal to him which could again destroy the atmosphere
  and sense of place of the NP.
  The ‘organised traveller’ has potential in visiting the SNP if package tours are offered. He
  is also desirable to attract as he isn’t in need of a high level of facilities, travels in small
  groups and enjoys encounters with nature and authenticity.
  Similar is the ‘organised adventurer’ who also travels in small groups and enjoys the
  outdoors. What distinguishes him from the ‘organised traveller’ is that he primarily seeks
  physical activities when choosing a destination. As the SNP offers various outdoor
  activities, this type of tourist has potential in coming, though an important aspect to
  consider is that he also primarily books package tours which are not provided by the SNP.
  He’d be desirable to attract to the SNP, especially for TOs, which offer tours like
  canoeing or bog shoeing. Together with the ‘organised traveller’, the ‘organised
  adventurer’ fits best in line with what the stakeholders of the SNP defined to be the ‘ideal’
  tourist.
  The ‘individual traveller’ or ‘backpacker’ has potential in visiting the SNP as he arranges
  the trip himself and isn’t very demanding when it comes to the level of facilities provided.
  This type of traveller is in a way desirable to attract to the SNP as he doesn’t ‘need’ much
  and shows interest in natural and authentic experiences. However, he shouldn’t be focused
  on as one of the main target markets of the SNP, as he usually only has a very limited
  spending power and therefore brings low profit.
  The ‘pioneer’ is even less demanding than the ‘individual traveller’ or ‘backpacker’. As
  he enjoys untouched and pure destinations he has potential in coming to the SNP. But
  even though he is desirable to attract to the SNP, he wouldn’t profit the SNP very much
  due to the limited number of this type of tourist.




212
    Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, Second Edition, 2005, p.97
213
    Id., p.97
214
    Id., p.97
215
    Id., p.98
                                                          58

    Typology based on interest
Four types of eco-tourists have been termed by Lindberg216. They are, in general, people
seeking nature and culture.
The ‘hard-core’ nature or culture tourists “are scientific researchers such as biologists,
archaeologists, anthropologists, and special interest groups such as botanists, birdwatchers
and authors”217. This type of tourist has a high level of education, showing a big interest in
cultural values. They choose destinations for their natural or cultural features and travel
solely or on a “small- scale package basis”.
The ‘dedicated’ nature or culture tourists are tourists that “set out especially for gathering
aesthetic experiences in unspoilt nature areas or in authentic culture destinations and who
aspire to learn about nature and/ or culture”218. The term ‘dedicated’ is derived from the fact
that this type of tourist is dedicated to the conservation of nature and culture. This type of
tourist also has a high level of education, travels on a small- scale basis and has a large
cultural capital. “This category often coincides with the organised traveller, backpacker or
pioneer”219.
The ‘common’ nature or culture tourist “travels through nature areas, cities and villages
because it is normal to do so nowadays”220. He is an average tourist that seeks to have a
unique experience. “The ‘common’ nature or culture tourist is the most interesting for the
tourism and travel industry, because he represents substantial quantities and is interested in
comfortable tourist facilities”221.
Last but not least, the ‘accidental’ nature or culture tourists “wind up more or less accidentally
in a nature or culture destination”222. They may have booked an organised package tour with a
TO and therefore end up at various tourism highlights without knowing anything about them.


  According to the typology based on interest, the ‘hard- core’ nature or culture tourist, like
  a bird- watcher, photographer, botanist or biologist, has potential in coming to the SNP
  due to its unique natural resources. He would furthermore be desirable for the SNP as he
  usually stays for a long period of time, cares about the natural environment and might
  report about the NP in the media. However, ‘hard- core’ nature or culture tourists only
  come in very small numbers and are therefore not suitable to be one the primary target
  groups of the SNP.
  Based on interest, the ‘dedicated’ nature or culture tourist is the most attractive type of
  tourist for the SNP because he seeks authentic experiences, feels a strong connection to
  nature and cherishes its conservation. Furthermore he has a high level of education and
  travels in small groups. Usually, this type of tourist is an ‘organised traveller’, a
  ‘backpacker’ or a ‘pioneer’. This type of tourist based on interest is the most coherent
  with the definitions of the ‘ideal’ tourist of the stakeholders.
  The ‘common’ nature or culture tourist has potential in coming to the SNP, as he likes to
  have unique experiences and because he travels through nature areas because it’s a trend.
  However, this type of tourist desires a high level of facilities and is therefore not that
  suitable for the SNP as the SNP might not be able to provide them.
  The ‘accidental’ nature or culture tourist isn’t a desirable type of tourist for the SNP as he
  isn’t aware of where he is travelling and also doesn’t appreciate his environment. He
  therefore isn’t linked to the stakeholders’ perceptions of the ‘ideal’ tourist.

216
    Lindberg in Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, 2nd Edition, 2005, p.98
217
    Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, Second Edition, 2005, p.99
218
    Id., p.99
219
    Id., p.99
220
    Id., p.99
221
    Id., p.99
222
    Id., p.99
                                                         59

    Typology based on experience
In van Egmond, Cohens five modes of tourist experiences are explained. These encompass the
‘recreational mode’, the ‘diversionary mode’, the ‘experiential mode’, the ‘experimental
mode’ and the ‘existential mode’.

The ‘recreational mode’ stands for the recreation- seeking tourist that needs a possibility to
rejuvenate and ‘recreate’. For him the “natural and cultural environment is a recreational
setting, and therefore replaceable and exchangeable”223.
In the ‘diversionary mode’, tourism is a means to “escape from the boredom and routine of
everyday life”224. A person in the ‘experiential mode’ differs, as he “sets out to discover ‘true,
unspoilt, authentic life’ elsewhere”225, while the ‘experimental’ type of person is a seeker.
“He does not derive enjoyment from observing the authentic life of others, but he engages in
that life”. Rather than fully committing himself to it, he samples and compares the different
alternatives, “hoping eventually to discover one which will suit his particular needs and
desires”226. The last mode is the existential type that “has discovered a place where people
lead an authentic way of life”227 and he wants to live it. Being away from it, feels to
existential type like living in exile.

  In regards to the typology based on experience, a tourist in its ‘recreational mode’ has
  potential in visiting the SNP as the NP offers various opportunities to rejuvenate.
  However, this type of tourist would not appreciate the SNP for its natural and cultural
  resources, but rather for the recreational purpose it fulfils. According to the interview
  results of stakeholders, this type of tourist would therefore be less desirable to attract to
  the SNP as great emphasis was put on the fact that a tourist to the SNP should show
  interest in the natural environment.
  A tourist in the ‘diversionary mode’ would also not come to the SNP in order to
  experience it, but rather because he is seeking an escape from his everyday life. The SNP
  offers this possibility and therefore has potential in attracting this type of tourists. Though,
  like the tourist in the ‘recreational mode’, the tourist in the ‘diversionary mode’ isn’t
  exactly in line with the type of tourist the stakeholders wish to attract to the SNP, as he
  doesn’t specifically come to experience Soomaa.
  The ‘experimental’ type of tourist would seek to engage in the local life in the SNP. Due
  to the limited number of people living in the SNP and the fact that locals are very shy and
  have often chosen to live in the solitude of the SNP without being confronted with tourists
  all the time, this is rather difficult. This type of tourist therefore doesn’t have a lot of
  potential in coming to the SNP.
  A tourist in the ‘experiential mode’ is, according to stakeholder interviews, the most
  desirable to attract to the SNP. This type of tourist is interested in natural and cultural
  values and cherishes authentic experiences.
  The ‘existential’ type of tourist goes a step further than the ‘experimental’ type of tourist
  as he’d want to live the life of locals. As explained above, it is difficult to integrate a
  tourist in the local life in the SNP. For this reason this type of tourist has a low potential in
  coming to the SNP.




223
    Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, Second Edition, 2005, p.100
224
    Id., p.100
225
    Id., p.100
226
    Id., p.101
227
    Id., p.101
                                                60

    Evaluation of typologies
A common denominator of the above explained typologies is the concept of benefit
segmentation, which is based on particular benefits different groups of tourists seek in a
product. As the typologies reveal, tourists can be categorized according to their differing
behaviours, interests and experiences. When having determined market segments, experiences
that are in coherence with the expectations of a specific market segment can be created.

Ultimately, the ‘midway’ of the three typologies of tourists has the most potential and is the
most suitable to attract to the SNP. The midway is focused on the types of tourists that come
in small groups, have a relatively high spending power, are satisfied with a low or medium
level of facilities and show interest in natural and cultural features.
According to the information derived from the stakeholder interviews, the ‘organised
traveller’ or the ‘organised adventurer’ which is ‘dedicated’ to nature or culture and finds
himself in the ‘experiential mode’ would be the most desirable type of tourist to attract to the
SNP. This type of tourist looks for tourism products that are focused on the natural and
cultural values of a destination. He cherishes and respects the environment he encounters and
enjoys feeling a sense of place. For him, having a unique and authentic experience together
with friends or family is much more important than being provided with a high level of
facilities. Hospitality is important to him as he is interested in getting in touch with locals.
When comparing these characteristics to what was said about the existing domestic and
foreign tourists in the SNP, they fit best to what was said about the existing foreign tourists.
Regarding the existing domestic tourists to the SNP, the interview results would apply best to
the ‘organised adventurer’ that has a ‘common’ interest in nature or culture and finds himself
in the ‘recreational’ or ‘diversionary mode’. It can therefore be said that the existing foreign
market to the SNP is more desirable according to the definition of the ‘ideal’ type of tourist of
the stakeholders than the existing domestic market, as the existing foreign tourist matches best
with the criteria of having a low impact and a high yield. A greater focus on the existing
foreign market and the implementation of suitable targeting strategies for desirable domestic
market segments is therefore needed.

    Targeting
The process of segmentation explained in 2.7.2 is very important in determining the right
target markets for each product. At the beginning of this section (5.6), the most appropriate
method of segmentation for the SNP was determined to be ‘benefit segmentation’. The market
is thereby divided into various segments consistent of tourists with similar expectations
towards a product.

In the case of the SNP, it would be most efficient if the concept of ‘differentiated marketing’
is chosen. This means that a few target markets are selected and a marketing programme is
tailored for each. As market segments are often exposed to different means of promotion, the
most suitable ways of communicating a promotional message has to be determined for each
target market.

The most potential types of tourists for the SNP were determined to be the ‘organised
traveller’ and the ‘organised adventurer’. In the following, the target strategies for these types
of travellers that were seen to have potential in visiting the SNP will be evaluated.
The ‘organised traveller’ books package tours and therefore the best mean to communicate
with this market segment would be via tour operators that have the SNP in their programmes
or packages. The best way to reach this market segment is through advertisements in selected
newspapers, magazines and via the internet. As he likes to differentiate himself from mass
                                                             61

tourists, the ‘organised traveller’ prefers packages to destinations that are termed as ‘unspoilt’;
the “supply is offered by small specialists, often direct sellers, with little overhead cost”228.

The ‘organised adventurer’ is a very appealing target group for the local TOs in the SNP,
which offer various physical activities. He is to be reached mainly via commercial media.

Generally, in order to reach the foreign market, it is important that the SNP promotes itself via
the internet and through e.g. tourism offices in Tallinn and Pärnu, as these are the destinations
where most of the international tourism is concentrated.
As depicted in 3.5.1., the number of foreign tourists to these cities has increased and statistics
show that their number of overnight stays has risen. This could be a positive development for
the SNP, as it means that foreign tourists stay in the cities for longer periods of time, which
might make it easier (due to the increased amount of time they have to spend) to draw them to
the SNP.


    5.7. Possible product-market combinations
The tourism product is “unique in terms of the range and diversity of activities encompassed”.
It “must be consumed within the geographical boundaries of the destination in which it is
offered”229. “As with any service, production and consumption occur simultaneously and, in
the case of tourism, such production affects most other sectors (directly and indirectly) of the
economy”230.
Product development is important for TOs and travel agents, as well as for attractions and
destinations. In order to create a tourist identity, destinations can make use of new attractions.
Generally, products can either be newly developed or updated. In both cases, the primary aim
is to attract more visitors or initiate a larger number of repeat visitors, “that is people who
have already visited and need a motive to go again to experience something new”231. New
products also offer the opportunity to appeal to more suitable or desired market segments.

“A product-market combination is the linking of a product to one or more specific market
segments. Each PMC has its own specific competitive position. Products are each others
competitors, when consumers compare them as alternatives in their decision process”232.
Good PMCs offer unique, authentic experiences, create a sense of place and establish an
emotional bond with the destination. They increase the tourist’s expenditure and length of
stay as well as support conservation, have spin off for other sectors and unite stakeholders233.

According to the stakeholder interviews, it is important to the majority of stakeholders of the
SNP that the market segments coming to the NP are environmentally aware, respect nature,
are educated, have a high spending power, stay for a longer period of time and travel in small
groups of families or friends. It was determined that ‘organised travellers’ and ‘organised
adventurers’ are the types of tourists that fit in line best with these characteristics. The SNP
therefore has to offer products which appeal to these types of tourists.
Regarding ideas for product development, stakeholder mentioned the lack of cultural products
in the SNP. As mentioned under 5.4., the USPs of the SNP lie in its natural resources.
Though, a cultural angle could be integrated into the tourism products in order to enhance the
SNP’s ‘software’ by provoking a greater atmosphere. In order to make the tourism products
228
     Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, Second Edition, 2005, p.96
229
    Cooper, Chris & Fletcher, John, Tourism principles and practice, FT Prentice Hall, Third Edition, 2005, p.307
230
    Id., p.307
231
    Lominé, Loykie & Edmunds, James, Key concepts in tourism, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, p.147
232
    Van Egmond, Ton, The Tourism Phenomenon; Past, Present, Future, ToerBoek, Second Edition, 2005, p.104
233
    Barten, Christa, Course ST3, Lecture on sense of place, 2008
                                                62

more authentic, it would be beneficial if local guides revealed various stories and legends
about the SNP in order to make its history alive and create a sense of place. A good product is
seen to create an unforgettable experience for the tourist and give him a deeper understanding
of the SNP. Therefore, making use of different interpretational materials is important as they
help inform tourists about the importance of conservation and give them an understanding of
the SNP.
Furthermore, many stakeholders mentioned that a guided tour tailored to a specific interest,
like for example birds has potential. Because the SNP is inhabited by distinct bird species,
some tourists are interested in spotting these and learning more about them. Bird-watching
could therefore be a marketing opportunity for the SNP.
Last but not least, a good product was also described to be something in which various
stakeholders are involved in order to increase the cooperation of the stakeholders and make
tourism more profitable for everyone.

In the following, two possibilities for PMCs are suggested for the SNP. The SNP experience
is very peaceful and magic as this natural destination is still relatively untouched. The PMCs
have to contribute to this experience by supporting the creation of a sense of place,
discovering the mysticism and revealing the uniqueness of the NP.
The first PMC is a 1.5- day bird- watching tour, which could be of interest to both domestic
and foreign tourists. The second PMC is a 6- day package tour which would primarily appeal
to foreign tourists, as domestic tourists mainly come to the SNP for a few days while foreign
tourists usually stay for longer periods of time. However, the existing domestic tourists
especially enjoy engaging in activities and as the package tour offers a combination of various
activities, it might appeal to a part of the domestic market.

    PMC 1 – Bird-watching tour
The SNP is an IIBA that is inhabited by various species that are listed in the ERDB and can’t
be found anywhere else. Not only for these reasons does the SNP have potential in appealing
to tourists interested in bird- watching, it is furthermore a peaceful and quiet destination with
limited human activity which is essential when it comes to spotting birds. Beforehand, it is
important that the SNP has established appropriate bird observation facilities and can provide
a skilled guide that knows his way around to the best bird- watching spots in the SNP.
The SNP could use its title as IIBA for promotional means and could offer a 1.5- day bird-
watching tour guided by a local bird specialist to a maximum number of five tourists. If all
participants are domestic tourists, then the tour will take place in Estonian, otherwise it will be
conducted in English.

    o Day I
Around midday, the group of bird- watchers will arrive at a local accommodation to settle in.
The small group of tourists will then be taken to the Visitor Centre of the SNP to have a
meeting with a local bird specialist. He will present the various types of birds that can be
encountered in the SNP in a slide show and will give information on their characteristics and
habitats.
Afterwards, the group of bird- watchers will pack their snacks, cameras and binoculars and
take a hike to their first bird- watching site, accompanied by the local bird specialist. The
group will spend time at different observation spots in the SNP. They will head back to their
accommodation as soon as dusk has passed in order to have dinner, relax and discuss which
species of birds they have cited. After dinner, the local bird specialist will take the group for
another short walk, to spot some nocturnal birds.
                                                63

    o Day II
The group of bird- watchers and the local bird specialist will get up early in the morning in
order to see the various birds that are active during dawn.
Back at the accommodation, the group will have breakfast together and will then depart to
their next destination.

    o Suitable market segments
This product could make use of the trend towards increased international travel. The SNP is
an IIBA and should promote itself under this title on an international level. A more extended
package tour for bird- watchers might even lead to a greater international awareness of the
SNP. Furthermore, this 1.5- day package tour enables bird- watchers that are interested in the
various bird species that can be found in the SNP to encounter the little inhabitants during a
short trip. Apart from being in line with the trend towards international travel and frequent
short trips, this product also harmonizes with the trend towards outdoor activities and the
trend towards more significant experiences. The tourists spend most of the time outdoors and
will have encounters with unique bird species and their habitats. The SNP seeks a sustainable
development of its products; the fact that this package tour is concerned with achieving a
greater understanding of the bird species in the SNP and thereby might support their
conservation makes it match with the trend towards an increasing environmental awareness of
tourists.

The most suitable market segment for this package tour is the ‘organised traveller’, as he likes
to have everything organised for him but at the same time isn’t very demanding when it
comes to facilities. Moreover, as the ‘organised traveller’ generally enjoys unspoilt nature,
some might also have an interest in bird- watching. Based on his interest, he could be a ‘hard-
core’ nature or culture tourist. This type of tourist has a high level of education, is very much
interested in natural and cultural values and often stays for longer periods of time. However,
as this type of tourist only comes in very small numbers, it is important to focus on other
types too. In this case, the ‘dedicated’ nature or culture tourist furthermore has potential as he
feels a bond to nature and values its conservation. As this product primarily appeals to tourists
that cherish the natural and cultural environment and seek authentic experiences, a ‘hard-
core’ or ‘dedicated’ ‘organised traveller’ in the ‘experiential mode’ has the most potential in
purchasing this product. In order to communicate a promotional message to this target market,
advertisements can be placed in selected newspapers, magazines and in the internet. To reach
foreign tourists, it would also be useful to promote this product in Tallinn or Pärnu, where the
concentration of foreign tourists is the highest.

    PMC 2 – Package tour
The suggested product possibility is a package tour that combines various products in one
tour. It stretches over six-days and can include a maximum number of 10 foreign tourists that
are over 18 years of age and physically fit. The tour will be conducted in English.
This product has potential as it involves many different stakeholders, meaning two
accommodation providers and at least two local TOs. It benefits many stakeholders and
supports their cooperation which contributes to a stronger economic competitiveness. The
period of stay of the tourists is increased by this tour, which is coherent with the desires of
many stakeholders. During the different activities included in the package tour, a lot of
interpretive information can be provided. As a cultural angle to the SNP was seen to be
missing by various stakeholders, cultural features are integrated in the nature activities in
order to appeal to both nature- and culture- seekers. A cultural angle furthermore enhances the
sense of place and thereby contributes to the ‘software’ of the SNP and the social
                                               64

competitiveness. The product moreover offers the tourist encounters with some local people,
which make the product more authentic.
It is possible to combine this package tour in various different ways and thereby make it
suitable to satisfy different demands and appeal to varying interests.

    o Day I
The idea is that tourists arrive by public transport or car at one accommodation facility in the
SNP. After the tourists have settled in, they will get a short welcome and an introduction to
the SNP by the accommodation provider. They will then spend the rest of the day relaxing
and getting to know each other. If they are interested, they can engage in a ‘local food
workshop’.
As mentioned by the majority of stakeholders, facilities providing food are lacking in the
SNP. The primary problem regarding this issue is the seasonality of tourism in the NP. A fully
established food facility would only be profitable during the high season of tourism and
would make losses during the low season.
Though, in order to counteract at least slightly against this situation, a local lady can prepare
meals for groups of tourists and offer workshops on local food during the tourism season in
the SNP.
A local lady experienced in cooking and knowledgeable about the local cuisine would have
different appointments for cooking for groups or conducting local food workshops in various
accommodation facilities. As the accommodation facilities in the NP don’t have a restaurant,
but rather offer a kitchen in which tourists can store and prepare their own food, this kitchen
can be used during the workshop. The local lady brings along local food products of the NP or
the surrounding area and shows the group how to prepare traditional dishes. In this way, the
tourists have the possibility to try local cuisine and take part in the preparation of the food.
Furthermore, the participants have the possibility to encounter locals (the lady conducting the
workshop and the accommodation owner) in a different and more relaxed environment while
preparing food and eating together in the end. The product is authentic and creates a sense of
place by cooking traditionally. It also contributes positively to the hospitality of the
destination. Local benefits are enhanced by this product, especially as the local lady could be
employed for the following days of the package tour to prepare meals for the group.
This workshop is easily to be conducted on a seasonal basis and as the amount of food needed
can be exactly calculated according to the each specific group size, losses are decreased.

    o Day II
The next day, the tourists are taken on a canoeing tour by a TO. While the tourists are
canoeing, their baggage will be transferred to a different accommodation facility by car.
The canoeing trip lasts until the afternoon and the tourists have a few stopovers at the shore to
relax. The local guide will tell them legends of the SNP and stories of the villages they pass
on their way in order to create a sense of place.
A possibility is that the group has a lunch break in or near a village, where local ladies have
prepared a picnic for them. This is another possibility to encounter locals and try local dishes.
In the afternoon, the group arrives at the second accommodation establishment where they
spend the rest of the day. The local lady of the ‘local food workshop’ of the previous day will
prepare the dinner for the group.

    o Day III
When driving or hiking through the SNP, one discovers many abandoned houses and villages,
which are about to be swallowed by nature. These deserted places have a certain flair and a
feel of mysticism about them, making them unique. This atmosphere can be made use of by
undertaking a guided hiking tour with the group. The lifestyle of locals is explained by the
                                                 65

local guide during the hike. Their daily activities in former times and the ways they dealt with
the seasons, especially the yearly flood, are told. The group will pass through some
abandoned villages during their hike, which will serve as supportive means to demonstrate the
former lifestyles of the locals.
To make this hiking tour authentic and lively, residents are questioned beforehand in order to
receive interesting background information on the villages. Histories, legends and maybe the
stories of people that lived in them can be discovered. Storylines give the tourist the
opportunity to establish a connection to the place and to see it from a different perspective. An
insight into the stories and legends that exist about the SNP is given in chapter 4. These and
others can be used in order to appeal to the tourist’s imagination, create a sense of place and
support the ‘software’ of the destination. Having a local tell the stories and show the tourists
around gives the experience a ‘real’ and genuine touch. The hike will reveal the strong
connection of nature and culture in the SNP.
After the guided tour, the tourists are taken back to the second accommodation where they
stay overnight. The local lady of the ‘local food workshop’ will have a dinner prepared on
their arrival.

    o Day IV
During day four, each member of the group can involve in whichever activities he likes.
Different TOs will either offer horse riding, short guided hiking trails or bird watching tours
to the group. Each group member can decide for one of the activities. In the evening the group
will have the chance to spend some time in a traditional Estonian sauna. The local cooking
lady will provide the group with meals throughout the day.

    o Day V
The following day, the group will have to have their luggage ready to be picked. They will
take another guided hike, but this time the primary focus is on nature. They will hike through
the bogs and forests of the SNP, while the guide will give information about the NP’s divers
flora and fauna. The hiking trail will eventually take the group back to the accommodation
facility where they spent the first night. In the meantime, the luggage of the tourists will have
arrived via car.In the evening the group will have a final dinner together for which catering
from a local restaurant is ordered.

    o Day VI
After a good night of sleep in the peaceful SNP, the tourists will pack their luggage and head
for their next destination in Estonia.

    o Suitable market segments
This product is in line with the trend towards increasing international travel as it is tailored
and especially appeals to international tourists. The package tour for foreign tourists primarily
consists of activities taking place in the outdoors. It therefore suits the trend towards outdoor
activities. Additionally, as the SNP is an unspoilt and authentic destination, it offers
significant experiences to tourists that are in search of distinct destinations. Last but not least,
the SNP is aiming at a sustainable tourism development and this specific package tour would
be in line with its conservational objectives, making it appealing to socially and
environmentally aware tourists.
The package tour for foreign tourists is primarily tailored to suit the ‘organised traveller’ as he
enjoys having everything arranged in a package for him. The fact that the SNP offers unspoilt
nature is furthermore very appealing to this specific market. The ‘organised adventurer’ also
has potential in booking this package as it encompasses a variety of physical activities.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to say whether the degree of the physical activities is high enough
                                                66

for this type of traveller. Generally though, both types of travellers are suitable for this
package as they travel in small groups of friends or family which makes them compatible with
the small group size of the package tour.
According to their interest, this package tour is appealing to the ‘dedicated’ nature or culture
tourist, as he is interested in learning about the natural or cultural features of the destination
he visits. He is in accordance with the desire the stakeholders revealed during the interviews,
as he respects nature and cherishes conservation. Furthermore, the ‘common’ nature or culture
tourist might find such a package attractive, as he seeks a unique experience and involves in
activities in nature because it is a trend to do so. But regarding the SNP, the ‘dedicated’ nature
or culture tourist is more suitable for this package tour because the ‘common’ nature or
culture tourist prefers a high level of facilities which is not provided by the SNP.
Regarding the experience, the package tour could be attractive to a tourist finding himself in
the ‘recreational mode’. Though, this tourist would only come for recreational purposes and
not because he’s interested in the NP. A tourist finding himself in the ‘diversionary mode’
also has potential. However, his motive for booking the package tour would mainly be to
escape his daily routine and engage in something different. As determined in 5.4., the existing
domestic market to the SNP as it was defined by the interviewed stakeholders usually finds
itself in these two modes. The interviews moreover revealed that a tourist showing actual
interest in the SNP is preferred by the stakeholders. Therefore, these two types that are based
on experience would be perceived as less ideal, while a tourist in the ‘experiential mode’
would be regarded as desirable due to his interest in experiences in untouched nature and
authenticity. Based on the description of the existing tourists to the SNP, this type of tourist
would be in accordance with the description of the foreign tourist. This package tour might
therefore be more appealing to foreign tourists.

Overall, both the ‘organised traveller’ and the ‘organised adventurer’ are suitable for this
package tour, while the ‘organised traveller’ has a greater potential in booking the tour.
According to interest, the ‘dedicated’ nature or culture tourist is the most suitable type of
tourist for this product, while based on the experience a tourist in the ‘recreational mode’, the
‘diversionary mode’ or the ‘experiential mode’ would fit to the product. However, the tourist
in the ‘experiential mode’ has a stronger bond to nature and would therefore be coherent with
the characteristics of the ‘ideal’ type of tourist the stakeholders defined.
In order to reach the ‘organised traveller’, advertisements in selected newspapers, magazines
and via the internet should be used, while the ‘organised adventurer’ can primarily be reached
via the commercial media. As this package tour is mainly appealing to foreign tourists,
promotion in for example the tourism offices in Tallinn and Pärnu are of great importance, as
these are the two cities where most of the international tourism is concentrated.
                                                67

    5.8. Conclusion
The SNP’s USPs lie in its natural resources; it is a wetland of international importance that
has also been proclaimed to be a IIBA. Its strong point therefore lies in its distinctive natural
attractions. The SNP has great potential for a STD if it strengthens its market position and
competitiveness by improving the other elements of the destination mix which are of
importance when it comes to serving the tourist. It has potential in attracting market segments
that have a low impact and a relatively high yield. If the facilities are there, the SNP might
have a chance to become a primary destination for domestic tourists, but for international
tourists it will stay a secondary destination. However, as the SNP is a very vulnerable
destination that has to focus very much on staying within its CC, staying ‘solely’ a secondary
destination might be good.

Current market trends show that various tourism trends are focused on spending more time in
nature and having more meaningful and authentic experiences. The fact that an increasing
number of tourists is getting more aware of their environment and value conservation and SD
much higher is profitable to natural areas. Possibilities for the SNP lie in tapping the full
potential of these trends as they can lead to an enhanced tourism income and thereby to
increasing financial means to conserve the NP.

Together with the current tourism trends, the tourism product suggestions were also
developed in line with stakeholder interests. As determined during the stakeholder audit, the
cooperation between the stakeholders is often lacking and especially products tailored to a
specific interest or revealing cultural aspects are perceived to be missing in the SNP.
The bird- watching tour could be appealing to both domestic and international tourists. Even
though this product wouldn’t attract a large part of the market, it still has potential as the SNP
is an IIBA, inhabited by various bird species that are listed in the ERDB.
The six- day package tour is primarily suitable for foreign tourists. It contains various
activities in nature that have a cultural angle in order to reveal the strong connection between
nature and culture in the SNP and enhance the sense of place. The product suggestion
contributes to the ‘software’ of the destination as, especially the ‘local food workshop’ (Day
I) and the ‘guided hiking tour’ (Day III), are authentic and create a unique atmosphere by
depicting traditions or ways of life. It especially aims at involving various stakeholders in
order to make a single tourist to the NP profit many. It is appealing to market segments that
show interest in and value natural and cultural features.
                                               68

6. Chapter – Conclusions and recommendations
    6.1. Introduction
This final chapter deals with the research question ‘what recommendations can be given for
future sustainable tourism development of the Soomaa National Park’. Conclusions are drawn
from the research questions which formed the compendiums of each chapter and were
answered in order to fulfil the research goal. At the end of this chapter, recommendations for
the STD of the SNP are given.


   6.2. Conclusions
The tourism industry is rather underdeveloped in the SNP. Problems lie in the lack of
expertise in the field of tourism and the strong seasonality. The SNP has socio-economic
problems in the sense that the population in the NP is ageing and the number of inhabitants is
decreasing due to the fact that younger generations move to the city. Also, employment
prospects in the NP are scarce and even though tourism is a welcome employment
opportunity in the SNP, it is very much dependent on the season.

The ‘effective’ or ‘actual’ demand is important to the SNP. But information on the existing
tourism demand is scarcely available, even though it could be of great use when it comes to
forecasting trends and developments. Tourism demand primarily exists from the domestic
market for which, like for the foreign market, the SNP is a secondary destination. Up till now
it has been receiving primarily domestic tourists, some of which stay for a short period of time
during which they engage in activities like canoeing while others, especially domestic
companies, through parties in the NP. If the SNP provides more facilities to the domestic
market, then it might have potential in becoming a primary destination for domestic tourists.
However, it has to be focused on suitable domestic target markets; while activities like
canoeing, bog shoeing or bird- watching could be marketed to a part of the domestic market,
attracting companies that through parties wouldn’t be very desirable as it isn’t in line with
conservational objectives and doesn’t fit into the context of a NP.
Foreign tourists usually stay in the SNP longer than domestic tourists. They generally visit the
SNP whilst on holiday in Pärnu and Tallinn and have informed themselves about the natural
features and activities one can involve in. However, for this market, the SNP will stay a
secondary destination, as foreign markets are usually interested in seeing more of Estonia than
just a NP.
As the SNP is a vulnerable destination, increasing tourism numbers could harm the natural
and cultural environment and disturb the sense of place. Monitoring tourism impacts,
controlling tourism flows and limiting the number of tourists to the SNP, especially to
vulnerable zones, is important to conserve it. To make the tourism industry profitable in the
long term, the SNP has to focus on a STD. STD is part of SD, which focuses on creating a
balance between socio-cultural, economic and ecological resources at a destination. Only
through the responsible use of resources does the SNP have potential for a SD and therefore a
STD. STD especially aims at determining the potential the SNP has for a SD and the role of
tourism within the overall context. Important is that the tourism industry stays within the CC
of the SNP and benefits all stakeholders.

Some current tourism trends might be beneficial to the tourism development in the SNP. The
trend towards the importance of having a meaningful experience, in the sense of having a
natural or cultural encounter, is in line with the trend towards increasing social and
environmental awareness. In both cases, tourists value the conservation of natural and cultural
resources, authenticity and the SD of a destination. In coherence with these trends is also the
trend towards outdoor activities. As these three trends focus on being more conscious of the
                                               69

environment and on having deeper and more meaningful experiences, they might seduce
tourists to slow travelling, which would be a countermovement to the trend towards frequent
short trips. Apart from the fact that travelling internationally has become much easier, tourists
seek to go abroad because they want to have life- enriching experiences and are interested in
‘learning-while-travelling’. The SNP can benefit from these trends as it offers experiences
during which one can get in touch with the pure nature and solitude of the SNP.

The USPs of the SNP lie in its natural resources; it is a wetland of international importance
and was proclaimed an IIBA which shows that it owns international recognition. One of the
main problems though is that the SNP doesn’t promote its unique features, leaving the
majority of the market unaware of its existence.
The SNP experience is unique because one can encounter pure nature, solitude and quietness
in the NP. But apart from the strong drawing power of the natural attractions, the other
elements of the destination mix are rather rudimentary. The lack of public transport and
accommodation facilities as well as food facilities was the main point of criticism by many
stakeholders. In order to establish itself a stronger position on the market, the SNP not only
has to focus on the other elements of the destination mix, tourism product development can
also be beneficial. Implying increased interpretational means in the product development and
putting the nature products into a cultural context could enhance the ‘software’ of the
destination by creating more atmosphere. While the ecological competitiveness is very strong,
the social and economic competitiveness of the SNP are comparably weak. Bringing in a
cultural angle to the product development of the SNP might support the social
competitiveness in regards to creating a stronger sense of place. While offering package tours
could support the economic competitiveness by leading to a better cooperation of
stakeholders. This would also take into account the opinions of the interviewed stakeholders,
as many criticised that cooperation between the stakeholders of the NP is missing. Joint
ventures in regards to important issues concerning the SNP as well as product development
were proposed in order to bring the stakeholders together. Cultural products and
interpretational means were seen to be relevant to increase the tourist’s experience and
satisfaction level. Interviewed stakeholders saw cultural products as one of the main aspects
in relation to increasing the tourism potential of the SNP. In the end, in order to be able to
compete with other destinations, the SNP has to strengthen all angles of competitiveness.

Developing new products can broaden the product range and help draw desired tourism
markets to the SNP. It can also contribute to a stronger competitive position on the market.
Interpretation can be used as a tool for product development as it is an educative tool and
mean for improving the visitor’s experience. Creating a sense of place by implying for
example storylines can establish a bond between the tourist and the destination and can
enhance the tourist’s level of satisfaction. Involving interpretive techniques in the product
development can support visitors in appreciating and valuing the natural and cultural heritage
of a destination more. In this sense, interpretation can support the conservation objectives of a
destination. Product suggestions for the SNP were proposed and set in relation to potential
target markets.

According to stakeholders, the ‘ideal’ type of tourist was defined to be an educated person
with a high spending power. Individual travellers or small groups of friends or family that
stay for a longer period of time were preferred by the majority of stakeholders. In case of the
SNP, it is difficult to decide for a market segment according to socio- demographic,
geographic or psychographic characteristics of tourists, as the SNP is appealing to various age
groups and tourists of various origins and occupations. Benefit segmentation is therefore a
suitable way to determine potential markets to the SNP as it’s about segmenting tourists
                                                70

according to what they want, need and expect from a product. It’s about experiences, of which
the SNP has plenty to offer.

The first product suggestion aims at making use of the title of the SNP as an IIBA by offering
a two- day bird- watching tour. This product is appealing to domestic and foreign tourists that
are interested in bird species and is in accordance with several of the stated tourism trends. As
this product primarily appeals to tourists that show interest in the natural and cultural
environment and seek authentic experiences, a ‘hard- core’ or ‘dedicated’ ‘organised
traveller’ in the ‘experiential mode’ was determined to have the most potential in purchasing
this product. He mostly books package tours and can be reached via advertisements in
selected newspapers, magazines or internet.

The second product suggestion is a package tour that is to be developed in cooperation of
various TOs and accommodation providers in order to make many stakeholders have a
tourism share. The different activities that are combined in the tour can be combined in
various ways in order to make the package suit differing demands. The activities included in
the package tour often have a cultural angle to them and aim at enhancing the tourist’s
experience by implying interpretational means and storylines in order to create a sense of
place. Some of the activities included in the package tour also enable tourists to get in contact
with locals in order to make the experience more authentic. Overall, this product gives the
tourist the possibility to see and experience various facets of the SNP, increases their length of
stay, brings together different stakeholders, and contributes to the improvement of the
destination mix. During the development of this product suggestion, current tourism trends
were kept in mind. The most suitable markets for this product were determined to be the
‘organised traveller’ and the ‘organised adventurer’. According to interest, the ‘dedicated’
nature or culture tourist has the most potential. Based on the experience a tourist in the
‘recreational mode’, the ‘diversionary mode’ or the ‘experiential mode’ would fit to this
product suggestion; but as the tourist in the ‘experiential mode’ has a stronger bond to nature,
he would be more desirable due to the fact that he fits better in line with the characteristics of
the ‘ideal’ type of tourist the stakeholders defined. The ‘organised adventurer’ can mainly be
reached via the commercial media; while communication means to reach the ‘organised
traveller’ are through TOs, advertisements in selected newspapers, magazines or via the
internet. As this package tour is mainly appealing to foreign tourists, promoting this product
in Tallinn and Pärnu, where the international tourism is concentrated, is advisable.

Overall, the SNP has great potential for a STD. It is a relatively untouched and vulnerable
destination that is very much conscious of the importance of its conservation. Its stakeholders
agree upon aiming at a SD and are willing to cooperate in order to achieve conservational
objectives. Ideas of the stakeholders of what types of products are missing in the SNP and
which tourist would be the most ‘ideal’ to attract to the SNP are similar and coherent. In order
to support its objectives, the SNP has applied for becoming a member of the PAN Parks
Network which will support the SNP in working towards a STD and develop tourism in
harmony with conservational objectives. Working on the prerequisites for becoming a
member of this network has already enhanced the cooperation between stakeholders and made
them more active. A problem might be though, that some stakeholders expect a lot from the
PAN Parks membership in the sense that they look forward to increasing international tourism
numbers as the network promises a member to become a primary international destination.
However, constricting the SNP from becoming a primary international destination are the
facts that it is very vulnerable, is situated in the Baltic States, which are rather unknown and
provides a limited destination mix and therefore lacks competitiveness. But being a primary
international destination also wouldn’t be the best way to go for the SNP as one of the aspects
                                              71

that make this NP unique is its untouched nature and the silence and solitude one can
encounter which contribute to the SNP experience; this would be spoiled by an amounting
number of tourists and a high level of facilities that wouldn’t fit into the context of the NP.
Nevertheless, if facilities are partly improved, the SNP might have a chance to become a
primary destination for domestic tourists.


   6.3. Recommendations
   Future research
Some angles of this research haven’t been fully explored due to various limitations.
Therefore, recommendations for future research are the following:
   o Conducting market research of existing markets to the SNP in order to be aware of the
       existing tourism demand in the NP. Information on the existing tourism demand can
       be used in order to analyse behaviours of the market and forecast trends and
       developments. Market research gives the opportunity to detect and react to market
       trends and developments at an early stage. Moreover, it serves as a tool to determine
       the needs and wants of the existing markets and thereby offers the possibility to
       respond to them.
   o Keeping an eye on general tourism trends is furthermore a forecasting tool. Tourism
       trends give insight into changes in behaviour of the market and indicate the main
       desires, needs and wants of the market. When it comes to product development,
       market trends can serve as mean to show what products could be profitable in terms of
       corresponding to market trends.
   o Last but not least, conducting regular meetings with all stakeholders of the NP and
       researching their opinions and ideas supports their cooperation and is important for a
       sustainable approach. This research assignment was conducted in a limited time period
       and therefore solely reflects the opinions and perceptions of a restricted number of
       stakeholders. Involving all stakeholders and determining which are important for a SD
       could be necessary.

   Sustainable tourism development
In order to prepare for a STD, the following recommendations for improvements are
suggested.
   o One single body should be responsible for the management of the NP. In this case
       stakeholders would know exactly whom to contact regarding issues concerning the
       SNP.
   o Destination management is important in order to enhance the cooperation between
       stakeholders. An entrepreneur has to know about the expertise of the other
       entrepreneurs in order to recommend them to tourists. Through cooperation or
       working in joint ventures, one tourist can be profitable to various tourism
       entrepreneurs (e.g. TOs, accommodation providers).
   o The local population has to be informed about tourism and its impacts. Possibilities for
       local people to get involved in the industry should be offered in form of trainings and
       workshops.
   o Locals interested in involving in tourism have to be made aware that tourism primarily
       takes place on a seasonal basis. The tourism season could be expanded to the shoulder
       season, if appropriate products and services are offered. Generally though, the SNP
       will never become a year- round destination due to harsh conditions and
       inaccessibility. Locals therefore have to be able to plan whether they are in need of
       other sources of income during the low season.
                                           72

o Visitor management is very important as the SNP is a vulnerable destination. In order
  to protect the natural environment, tourism supply in form of trails is of great
  relevance in order to control the visitor flows. Furthermore, monitoring tourism
  impacts and implementing zoning is important to protect the environment, especially
  extremely vulnerable areas, like e.g. breeding places. Interpretational means are
  relevant to initiate understanding of the tourists and can support that tourists stick to
  codes of conduct. Controlling and limiting the number of tourists to the SNP is also
  important so that the sense of place doesn’t get lost.
o A demand- oriented approach gives a better understanding of the needs and wants of
  tourists and thereby helps in building relationships, stimulating repeat visits and
  establishing a stronger competitive position on the market.
o The Visitor Centre should be a marketing tool and give a detailed overview of what
  activities can be undertaken in the SNP and which sites offer which features or
  activities.
o Means of interpretation that appeal to all senses should be enhanced in the Visitor
  Centre and in the other elements of the destination mix of the SNP in order to inform
  tourist about the natural and cultural resources of the NP and make it more interesting
  and appealing. Enhanced interpretation should also be implemented by tourism
  entrepreneurs as it can help the tourist understand the importance of conserving the
  great variety of fauna and flora in the NP. Furthermore, interpretational means can
  enhance the visitors experience and therefore his satisfaction by creating a sense of
  place.
o The SNP should be marketed as an international important wetland which is
  recognised as an IIBA. Offering tours that appeal to bird- watchers could be profitable.
o Putting focus on giving the tourism products a cultural angle would broaden the
  product range, which might lead to a greater tourist satisfaction and could attract new
  market segments.
o Package tours that take 5 to 10 days increase the length of stay of tourists and thereby
  enhance the tourism expenditure in the SNP should be offered.
o Appealing to school classes would be a possibility to attract part of the domestic
  market and spread a greater awareness in regards to the importance of conserving
  natural and cultural resources.
o Public bus lines should be improved to and from the NP (especially during the tourism
  season) in order to give both locals and tourists the possibility to get in and out of the
  NP without having to use a car. This would lead to an increasing number of tourists
  coming to the SNP, that don’t have an own or rented car at hand. Furthermore, it
  would reduce the amount of exhaust fumes in the SNP by decreasing the number of
  individual cars driving through the NP.
                                             73


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                                                   76


Attachments - Interviews
1. Management Boards
    1.1. Interview with Murel Merivee
            Position: Conservation Planning Specialist of the Environmental Board in Pärnu
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
I mainly write management plans for protected areas and do legislative improvements. This means that
I prepare drafts, basically the blueprints of management plans, for parks. I also help with the
coordination of management processes.

    Her vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My vision for the Soomaa National Park is that it remains a naturally intact area. It is important that
the wilderness is preserved and that local communities have their place and thereby stay part of
Soomaa. At the moment there are two organisations dealing with the management of the park and I
hope that this will change in future. I hope for an understanding between the two organisations as the
local people need to know who is responsible for what and whom to contact when.

    Her perceived degree of influence on management processes of the Soomaa National Park
As a management planner I’ve responsibilities together with a team of developers. I give a large
amount of input and therefore have a proportionately big influence on what is happening in the park. I
am member of a team of specialists and responsible for aspects like visitor management. As I work on
a regional basis, Soomaa is just one of the many projects I’m involved with.

    Expected degree of involvement in future
At the moment only regional staff is representing Soomaa. In future, one person will be very involved
with Soomaa. It could be me, but it could also be someone else. It is very important that the National
Park has a representative because it gives the park a ‘face’. People, especially locals, will know who to
turn to and contact if they have enquiries. A responsible and representative is thereby also important in
order to build relationships.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
The Soomaa National Park already offers quite a few products to its visitors. Though, I think that
niche products and more exclusive things could be an option. An idea would for example be good
experts to observe wildlife. Some people come here with the specific desire to see a bear or wolf;
someone that can help them find these animals is missing. Furthermore, workshops in relation to
traditional cuisine and crafts could be interesting. Visitors could learn how to make traditional bread
and things like that. Also, local food is hard to find in Soomaa. There is no restaurant offering locally
produced dishes and the farmers in the area aren’t allowed to sell there home made products because
they don’t have a license. At the moment there are only field chefs in Soomaa. They produce their
food outside of the park and bring it inside. A local restaurant offering traditional food would therefore
be another option. The only problem is that trust plays a very big role in regards to this option, as one
has to be able to depend on the chef that he provides food for the visitors all the time.
In a way the visitor centre is another product as a renovation of the visitor centre is very due.
Momentarily it doesn’t offer any clear messages to the visitors and there is hardly anything to do or
look at in the visitor centre. The project for renovating the visitor centre has already been accepted and
it will be enlarged sometime in the near future. We are planning to equip it with more audiovisual
materials and structure it more appropriately.

     1.2. Interview with Meelis Suurkask
         Position: Conservation Planner of the Environmental Board
     Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
Tourism planning is one aspect in the management plan for the Soomaa National Park. Tourism makes
up about 50% to 75% of the activities that the communities here are involved with. Tourism planning
is therefore very important for the management plan. All people that live within the borders of the
national park are somehow involved or influenced by tourism. Outside the national park there are also
many entrepreneurs that are involved with tourism in the national park too.
                                                    77

    Perceived strong points of the Soomaa National Park
The fact that Soomaa is a large territory with nature buffering ability makes it easy to support itself.
The human activities in the area also don’t influence the whole territory. There is enough room for
animals to escape from humans.
Moreover, the national park is quite well observed in the sense of rangers inspecting the area and its
roads. There is also a chance to improve the infrastructure and develop entrepreneurial activities
without having too big impacts because of the large environment.

    Perceived threats through tourism
The main problem of the Soomaa National Park is that a management body for the national park is
missing. The management of the park is too complex as now one is especially responsible focussing
on the park. There is no ‘face’ to the park.
Also, the maintenance of the national park has been given to the forest ministry which hasn’t given
any specific indications on how much they will invest in maintaining the national park.

    His vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My objectives for the Soomaa National Park are that it should be a classical national park that
provides environmental services. I hope for conservation activities to be coordinated by one team in
future. Also, it would be very positive if businesses are provided by local people in order to benefit the
local economy.

    His opinion on what is of interest to tourists
There are a couple of reasons for tourists to come to the Soomaa National Park. First of all they are
interested in the wetlands. They also seek experiences in nature and adventures (e.g. canoe trips).
Another reason is that many people have a specific interest in features of nature (e.g. botanical
interests). Also, tourists come in order to experience the 5th season and seek recreation in nature. There
are of course two groups of people. Those that are ‘positive’ respect the fauna and flora, while those
that are ‘negative’ litter, are noisy and cause damages to nature. As there is a lot of private property in
Estonia and because national parks are free for everyone, people know that they will have no problems
with landlords in the park. It can be very problematic if people take advantage of this.

     His perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
The Soomaa National Park was established in 1993. Up till then no tourism activities had taken place
in the area. The first stage of tourism development was that entrepreneurs appeared and started
offering canoe trips. The second stage was the building of nature trails and guides. The third stage was
the construction of the visitor centre.
As tourism grew, coordination in relation to limits for group sizes started. Additionally the need for
more trails was satisfied and the first management plan was prepared. The building of infrastructure
helped raise the number of tourists. The increasing numbers of tourists resulted in a raise in the
economy as the local economy profited from the income through tourism. Then, at the beginning of
2000 tourism started to be a very important source of income for locals. Additional income was earned
through things like habitat management.
Nowadays the tourism influence on the national park isn’t that relevant anymore. All the guides are
self employed and the private sector has grown very strong. Therefore, tourism is relatively difficult to
coordinate.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
I’m of the opinion that the visitor centre of the Soomaa National Park should provide more
interpretational materials to tourists. Also it should be the responsibility of the visitor centre to
coordinate the guides and activities within the national park. Local park rangers are missing that can
help out tourists and can serve as guides.

    Expectation towards the PAN Parks membership
In relation to PAN Parks I expect that the cooperation between entrepreneurs improves and that they
will act as one unit. Furthermore standards have to be set and regulations implemented.
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    1.3. Interview with Rait Parts
        Position: Visitor Management Specialist/ State Forest Management Board
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
My role relates to organising the visitor management in the national park and the wider areas which
are protected by the Nature Conservation Act. The Nature Conservation Act contains all protected
areas which belong to the Sakala Recreation Area to which the Soomaa National Park was added.
The tasks I’m involved in concerning the visitor management are counting visitors, organising events
for larger audiences, providing information about the national park, organising work camps,
functioning as a contact person between the Environmental Board and the management of the Soomaa
National Park. Throughout my work it is very important to share information which is relevant for
conserving the national park appropriately and noting any changes or harm to nature.

    His visions and objectives for the Soomaa National Park
My objectives for the Soomaa National Park have to be divided into personal aims, as I’m living in the
area and my objectives as an employee.
Personally, I hope that the natural conditions of the park remain as they are and that destroyed natural
habitats and ecosystems will be restored. Furthermore, the access to the park via public transport
should be improved. Momentarily there are hardly any public buses and most of the people have to
come via car or tour buses. It should therefore be made easier for individuals to access the park.
My interests as an employee are more or less the same. In this relation I especially hope that the
quality of services provided by entrepreneurs will support nature conservation. Also, the cooperation
between nature conservationists, the government and the private sector should be better.

     Perceived strengths of the Soomaa National Park
I regard the strengths of the Soomaa National Park to be that the park has good natural barriers. There
are only a few access points to the park and therefore the control over visitors relatively high, which is
of course beneficial to visitor management and nature protection.
The growing cooperation between local governments and entrepreneurs can also be stated as strong
point of the national park. Additionally I’d like to mention that the team for nature conservation is of
good quality.

    Perceived threats towards the Soomaa National Park
Threats to the national park are uncontrolled mass tourism and insufficient cooperation between tour
operators in the region. Moreover, decisions made on the state level which don’t have an appropriate
monitoring system can pose a threat.
    His opinion on what is of interest to tourists
Tourists primarily come to the Soomaa National Park in order to experience pure nature.

    Places he would show to tourists
This depends very much on the type of tourist. With bigger groups or tour buses, I would share
information on the Soomaa National Park via films, computer materials, a short lecture and printed
materials. To them I would suggest walking the beaver track. I would try to keep them away from
other boardwalks during the high season (May till August).
Individual groups that are interested in spending a full day at the Soomaa National Park mostly enjoy
doing trips and activities with local tour operators. If this is not the case, I would suggest the
Karuskose area. Here they can walk the Ingatsi Trail or and in the one-log boat building workshop.

    His perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
In the Soomaa National Park there is no overall story or legend, but many small stories exist on how
people used to live in the area. These stories are mainly about how people that lived in the area were
far away from the ‘outside world’. For this reason the people were very independent, comparable to
people living on an island. The people from the ‘mainland’ or the ‘outside world’ saw the people of
the Soomaa area as awkward. Many misunderstandings took place between the people of the Soomaa
area and those living outside of the region, as their lifestyles and perceptions differed.
The history of Tori is connected to the sandstone caves. It is said that the devil lived in the caves. And
apparently he got beaten up by the ladies that washed their clothes in the river.
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    His definition of the ideal tourist
The ideal tourist for me would be a person that has background knowledge on nature in general and
respects natural and cultural values.
Like mentioned before, I would suggest different activities to various types of people or groups.
Individual groups are more appropriate for areas like Karuskose, as the nature disturbance through this
audience is relatively low in comparison to large tour busses for example.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
I don’t think there are any specific products missing in the Soomaa National Park. Though, what could
be improved is the quality of the products and experiences.
In general I must add that the state should provide better community based services like means of
telecommunication and transport.

    His expectations in relation to the PAN Parks membership
I expect that entrepreneurs will bring in more quality tourism in the sense that tourists stay for a longer
period of time and have a higher spending power.
It would be nice if transit tourism would be decreased, but I don’t really think that that will happen.
In regards to local communities I think that local communities won’t benefit from the PAN Parks
membership that much as most of the locals are too old to participate.

   Perception of the area of the Soomaa National Park
The Soomaa National Park comprises all villages which are connected with one ‘leg’ to the park.
Bordering villages would be Riisa, Tipu, Iia, Aesoo and Karjakula.

2. Counties
    2.1. Interview with Andres Metsoja
        Position: Pärnu County Government – Chairman of the Board
    Which role does tourism play for you?
Tourism is extremely important for Pärnu city. Though, one has to say that nature tourism has gotten
more popular in the past and this type of tourism is therefore growing. This trend also benefits the city
tourism as tourists do city trips in between their nature experiences. Also hunting tourism has become
more important in the past as well as activities taking place at the coastal region. Tourism is very
important for the life quality of locals and for the local economy.

    How has tourism development changed in the region?
The influence of tourism has grown in the past and will still grow in the future. It has become more
important for locals, as it brings in income.
A problem is though, that the rural municipalities don’t understand the importance of tourism. If they
don’t cooperate, they don’t reach as much as they could when they would work together. The Pärnu
Tourism Board has finally started to work effectively by today. And now, in the time of economic
decline, it has been understood that tourism is important not only for cities but also for country sides.

     Can you think of any threats associated with tourism?
There have been many analyses of threats of tourism. In my opinion, entrepreneurs in tourism should
understand their own impacts and influences on the environment and should control them by
themselves. They themselves are responsible for their decisions and impacts.
It is furthermore important to bear in mind that tourism shouldn’t be overrated. It shouldn’t exceed the
carrying capacity as in the long run the quality of the tourism products would decrease and there’d be
nothing left to sell. Concerning these points it is important that nature conservationists, entrepreneurs,
etc. cooperate in order to maintain the tourism quality. Also, tourism marketing shouldn’t have the
objective of selling more, but rather aim at selling good quality.
Today, I must say that the cooperation of stakeholders could be better and it is important to establish a
strategic framework. In practice it is possible to go from one entrepreneur to the next because there
aren’t that many, but it is definitely not possible to take into account everyone’s opinion! There is a
need for a general understanding. This is really difficult as there are many marginal interests and it’s
hard to find a balance.
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    What are strong points for the Soomaa National Park, the wider area and the communities?
I’d consider strong points of the Soomaa National Park to be its brand name, the relatively good
cooperation between local entrepreneurs, the conservation activities taking place and the coordination
between nature activities and the management of the park. Also, the Soomaa National Park combines
two counties and thereby increases their interaction.
Regarding the local communities, especially the river tourism plays a great deal in regards to the local
income. Tourism to the park brings income to the local shops and entrepreneurs, which has a positive
effect on the local economy.

Problems are that the road infrastructure is relatively bad and social problems arise through the
remoteness of the area. It is for example difficult for first aid to access.
Moreover, when tourism is present in an area, everyone tries to sell himself, which leads to a lack of
quality of products. Too much of the same is offered and it would be important to implement a
standard of quality for the products. In this sense it has to be mentioned that tourism itself doesn’t
provide sufficient income for the local people. Side activities, like agriculture, should therefore be
coherent with tourism.

    Can you think of any products that are missing in the Soomaa National Park, which could attract
    more tourists?
The Soomaa National Park should be more developed. It could definitely be possible to sell it more,
especially through enhanced interpretation. Furthermore, the visitor centre needs a renovation and the
infrastructure could be improved. The problem in relation to the infrastructure is though, that the
“bad” roads have a special charm. The people living in the area haven’t moved there because of the
roads and tourists might enjoy the “rough” experience as it gives flair to the destination.
Additionally, I think that forest guards and their forest houses could exhibit the way of life that is a
kind of tradition.
Moreover, the Soomaa National Park should link itself to other regions. Momentarily, it tries to keep
tourists to itself as long as possible. But tourism could be more profitable for the county if the park
was linked with other regions.

     What expectations to you have in relation to the future PAN Parks membership of the Soomaa
     National Park?
One has to say that PAN Parks isn’t like a magic tool which solves all problems. It helps but can also
cause problems in the sense that some entrepreneurs might not be ready for this membership yet.
I think that PAN Parks has good means to make local entrepreneurs active, but in my opinion people
should only cooperate in order to become a member of PAN Parks. They should be active even
without PAN Parks. I recon its difficult to tell whether they are simply cooperating in order to obtain
the membership and not because they want to.
For me, as a side actor, it would be interesting to go to Soomaa and ask the entrepreneurs about their
expectations. If they all answer the same, only then I think that they are ready for the PAN Parks
membership.

   2.2. Interview with Urmas Kase
       Position: Pärnu County Government – Development and Planning Department
   How do you define the destination Soomaa? Which villages form the borders of the Soomaa
   National Park?
The borders are more or less Tori, Paikuse in the south and Vändra in the north.

    Which role does tourism play for you?
The Soomaa National Park is a very important destination as it is the only national park in our county.
Though, as the Soomaa National Park is divided upon two counties, Pärnu and Viljandi, which were
once one county, the cooperation is a bit difficult. It would be better if the park was managed by only
one county, like it was before. Pärnu is the biggest county in Estonia and has a strong focal point on
regional development. In Pärnu county alone there are 20 municipalities, of which three form partners
when it comes to questions concerning the Soomaa National Park.
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It has to be said that 90% of the visitors to the Soomaa National Park come from Pärnu and not from
Viljandi. I guess that’s because the roads from here are better and more scenery is offered. Also, in the
summer, Pärnu has a lot of visitors which come for the beaches and undertake trips to Soomaa.
Another factor is that the tourists from Tallinn drive over Pärnu in order to get to the park instead of
passing through Viljandi.

    How has tourism development changed in the region?
Like mentioned before, tourism plays a very big role for Pärnu county and we see many new
opportunities. After Tallinn, Pärnu is the second destination when it comes to the amount of tourists it
receives. The tourists need catering and thereby support the local agriculture.
Last year the biggest change taking place was that the Pärnu Tourism Board was formed. This was an
important establishment as it started helping to draw the tourists out of Pärnu, which is really crowded
in summer. Tourists are offered various options for day trips. Especially the UNESCO island of
Kihnu, the West coast, the Soomaa National Park, the biggest sand dunes in Estonia and important
historical sites are being promoted.

    Can you think of any threats associated with tourism?
For Pärnu city I have to say that there is no real threat through tourism, as the number of tourists has
even decreased in the past years. Though, with increasing numbers of tourists it is important that
Soomaa National Park controls its carrying capacity.

    What are strong points for the Soomaa National Park, the wider area and the communities?
The strong points of the Soomaa National Park are definitely its natural features, real wilderness
experiences and its brand value. As it is a peak territory and will become a member of PAN Parks
soon, it will gain in importance. For the communities, the agriculture plays an essential role and is a
strong point.
From a county point of view I’d add that the cooperation between nature sites, local counties, local
authorities, etc. is quite good since the 1990s.

     Why do you think tourists come to the Soomaa National Park?
I recon that most of the visitors to the Soomaa National Park come in order to experience the 5th
season, the flood. Also, they often want to enjoy a real and unique wilderness experience. Rivers are
very popular in terms of participating in canoe or kayak tours. Many people, especially those from the
cities come to enjoy the nature and solitude which they seek in the park.

    What are your specific aims/ objectives for the Soomaa National Park, the wider area, the tourism
    development and the local communities?
I hope that the Soomaa National Park won’t be overloaded with tourists in future. Furthermore, apart
from joining the PAN Parks network, Soomaa National Park might become an UNESCO site as it is
already on the tentative list. I consider increasing the quality of life of the local people living in the
national park as important. Also, the natural values need to be preserved appropriately and the
environment has to be kept clean.

     What expectations to you have in relation to the future PAN Parks membership of the Soomaa
     National Park?
Concerning PAN Parks, I hope that the entrepreneurs will merge and our contacts and links will
continue. Also, as PAN Parks has been initiated by the WWF it is a quality mark which will hopefully
attract more educated tourists which are truly dedicated and interested in nature.

3. Municipalities
   3.1. Interview with Enda Link
       Position: Municipality head of Tori
   What is your role? What are your tasks?
Municipality tasks within our area.
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     Which of the villages in your area are important for tourism?
We are the gate of Soomaa. Quite many are involved; as a source of income it plays an important role
for the inhabitants.

     How do you think the tourism development has changed in the region?
Itself the number of tourist and the economic income of tourism has risen. The new aspects within the
last few years are the cooperation between the different stakeholders involved in tourism.

   What is the perception of tourism among the people within your region?
The perception is very positive.

    Do you associate any threats with tourism to the SNP?
I do not associate threats for the local people; only in terms of pollution of the environment.

    Why do you think tourists come to the Soomaa National Park?
The main reason why tourist come to the area is natural recreation. People want to enjoy the peace and
silence of the area. They are kind of coming for “meditating” purposes.

   Can you think of any products that are missing, which could attract more tourists?
There should be more and better public transportation.

   What are your specific aims/ objectives for the Soomaa National Park and the socio-economic
   development of communities in your region?
That the people have a good quality of life as well as that more people will visit the National Park.

    What expectations to you have in relation to the future PAN Parks membership of the Soomaa
    National Park?
It will benefit the region as more people will come to the SNP. Especially more people from different
countries. This will generate more jobs.

    3.2. Interview with Kumo Erkman
        Position: Head of Municipality of Paikuse
    What is your role? What are your tasks?
In Paikuse we have a number of 3,900 inhabitants living on 177km². The area consists of 21 villages.
I’m the head of the municipality Paikuse, therefore my tasks are various. We mainly have two
different departments. The one is concerned with social and humanitarian issues, while the second
department deals with planning and construction and things like that. I am responsible for socio-
humanitarian issues, sports and culture as well as city planning and development issues

    Which industries play a role for the municipality of Paikuse?
The main important sources of income are in the wood industry, service industry, furniture production
as well as metal industry. Also many people produce very good local products, like food or small
handcrafts. But at the moment they are lacking the know-how and the people to sell the products to.
Tourism makes up only around 5% of the industry.

    Which role does tourism play for you?
Up to this point tourism plays a minor role in relation to the incomes for the communities. Round
about 40 people are involved in it. It involves around 5 % of the income for the area. There are some
farmers involved in offering accommodation facilities for tourists. Though, we want to develop more
tourism in our region and we have two or three opportunities to do so.
First of all, Paikuse is only 25km away from the SNP and our region is bordering with the SNP.
Interacting with the SNP in relation to tourism would therefore be a good opportunity for the
community.
The second option is that we have discovered things like plates in Paikuse, which date back to the
Stone Age. They are about 8,000 to 10,000 years old. Getting EU funds for reconstructing a Stone Age
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village or so would be great. Momentarily a tourism professor from the university in Pärnu and an
archaeology professor from Tartu are involved with the findings.

    Do you associate any threats with tourism to the SNP?
The problem I see is that tourism is a fast growing industry and we could have a problem keeping up
with the development if tourism numbers increase rapidly.

     Why do you think tourists come to the Soomaa National Park?
I recon, that most of the tourists come in to get to know this unique environment. There are few places
in Europe which offer such complex nature. The people are free to walk around, but they prefer having
paths and trails that lead them, as they are not used to wandering of into the forest. They feel safer if
there are trails to which they can stick and they don’t have to think of finding the way back. The bogs
are of course one of the most important natural features in the SNP.
Furthermore I have to say that this is a perfect environment for children to run around and learn by
touching and seeing plants, animals and footprints, instead of reading everything in a book.

    Can you think of any products that are missing, which could attract more tourists?
Most of the tourists are lead to only a couple of places within the park. I think that the tourism flows
have to be stretched over the park like a network. It has to be clearly stated where the tourists can find
what and then they will travel to various destinations within and around the SNP and will spend their
money at different locations. This is a problem of logistics and infrastructure…
Furthermore, a sight seeing tower could be built as people don’t like wandering of unguarded and
without a trail.
Moreover, local products, like food, and souvenirs are missing. Tourists are interested in learning
about culture and would involve in workshops or purchase local, traditional products if they were
offered.

     What are your specific aims/ objectives for the Soomaa National Park and the economic
     development of communities in your region?
In relation to the SNP, my objectives are that the connection to Paikuse will be stronger, making the
community benefit from the NP.
I think the establishment of trails is very important. Tourists often don’t like wandering of alone into
the woods. They feel safer if they stick to a trail, which is good for us, because they will stay on the
trail and the impact on nature will be minimized. Implementing guides more strongly which show the
tourists around is also one of my objectives, as this would increase the income of locals through
tourism. Small villages often don’t like to be disturbed by tourists, so having guides which control the
visitor flows is very positive.

Concerning community development, I hope that we will build another school soon. This is an aspect
which increases the number of people moving to the area. Further facilities which support this are
building a health centre, a sports hall, street lamps and arranging a meeting place for village people.
Moreover, constructing this Stone Age village could support local incomes.

    What expectations to you have in relation to the future PAN Parks membership of the Soomaa
    National Park?
I think that the PAN Parks Network will benefit the community. It is a large network which is
knowledgeable about tourism and development, and we can profit from the intellectual input.

    3.3. Interview with Tonu Kiviloo
        Position: Head of the Kopu Municipality
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
The municipality of Kopu is responsible for 9 villages. The municipality has various roles. It supports
organisations in building infrastructure, tries to make it more appealing for people to move here,
supports the economy by helping small companies in settling down and offering their products in the
park, promotes the area and tries to get clients for operators in the area. The good brand of the national
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park makes this municipality stand out in comparison to others. Also the emphasis on nature education
in local schools and universities is supported.

     Communities for which tourism plays a role
There is a perspective for each village to be involved in tourism because they all have natural
resources to offer. The problem is though that the resources aren’t used and the local people aren’t
qualified to work in tourism.
The number of people employed by tourism in this region is relatively low. There is only one person
that does it as a full time job. But I would say that of the 800 people living in the municipality of
Kopu, a maximum number of 10 people works in tourism. As you can see, tourism isn’t regarded as a
full time job as it is 100% seasonal all over Estonia. I think that in 2 years time the situation will be
different though.
The manor will support tourism in future and it’ll take over some of the clients going through Kopu.
There is also a manor school project here in the region, which is part of a network that’s covering the
country. Approximately 15 areas, encompassing a number of 60 schools in total are included in this
network.

     Perception of tourism in villages
Village people don’t really acknowledge tourism as it is a seasonal activity and it takes years to attract
tourists and make the tourism activity economically efficient.
For small tourism farms of companies the random independent tourist makes up only 1/3 of the
income they make. Event tourism on the other hand makes much more money. Tourism has to create a
synergy between various service providers and the environment to make it work. An atmosphere for
visitors has to be created. Here in these circumstances (seasonality) it is very difficult to earn income
through tourism.

    Economic activities taking place in the region
Most of the people work with agriculture and many go to work in cities outside of the region, like e.g.
Viljandi. The municipality gives work through the municipality itself, the school, the kindergarten and
the pensioner homes.

     His visions and objectives for the Soomaa National Park
My hopes for this region are that the agriculture won’t disappear. Also, the public services of
communities (e.g. schools) should maintain their position and there should be a synergy in the tourism
sector when tourism numbers increase.
I hope that everything goes well with the establishment of a Visitor Centre in the old dairy factory here
in Kopu and that this will attract more tourists to the region. There should be some services for people
that are passing through (e.g. a visitor centre or a café).

     Perceived threats towards the Soomaa National Park
In relation to tourism there are two types of visitors which pose a threat to the national park. First of
all, uncomfortable clients for communities are often teenagers as these are noisy, rebel and the cause
for many accidents. The second type is a visitor that comes randomly. Uncontrolled tourism and
especially people that earned their money fast and don’t have any respect to nature can have a very
negative impact on the environment. They think that with money they are allowed to do anything.

   Perceived weaknesses of the Soomaa National Park
The weaknesses of the Soomaa National Park are that the administrative work of the national park has
been too jumpy. Also, the national park has only managed to build infrastructure up till now and not
more.

    His opinion on what is of interest to tourists
The national park has a strong brand name; therefore I think many Estonians come here as it is kind of
a ‘must’ to have seen the national park, especially when you live in Estonia. Furthermore, a person
who has a wider knowledge about nature, wildlife and its complexity comes to the park. It is a ‘real’
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wildlife experience when you come to the national park, as there are no fences and the animals aren’t
being fed or so.
For Scandinavian tourists it is a totally different nature site to what they have at home, therefore they
enjoy visiting the national park. It also has to be mentioned that nowadays people living in cities often
seek to spend some time in nature. The Soomaa National Park is a perfect place to do so.

    His perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
In Soviet times people were employed by the state. Nowadays the people only live in the past or right
now, they don’t really have any perspectives. There is lack of initiative and many small enterprises
haven’t even planned for the future. People just wanted as much as possible as soon as possible,
without looking ahead.

    His definition of the ideal tourist
I consider the ideal tourist to be an educated person that has an average or higher income and stays for
a longer period of time (more than 2 to 4 days). I think families, groups of friends or companies are
quality clients.

     Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
I don’t really see a problem in the sense of people offering things. What is missing in the national park
is the administrative procedures and planning.

    His expectations in relation to the PAN Parks membership
I do expect the PAN Parks network to benefit the area and the communities.

   3.4. Interview with Leili Kuusk
       Position: Representative of Suure- Jaani Municipality
   What is your role? What are your tasks?
Governmental task within the area of the Suure – Jaani

    Which of the villages in your area are important for tourism?
Tourism in our municipality is rather a side activity. There are some single entrepreneurs who are
involved. They offer accommodation.

   How do you think the tourism development has changed in the region?
The number of tourists coming to the SNP has grown.

     What is the perception of tourism among the people within your region?
It is rather neutral, they are not too much involved in it.

     Do you associate any threats with tourism to the SNP?
In this state of tourism, I do not see many threats caused by tourism. However, I do see the threat that
local people are not enough involved in tourism.
     Why do you think tourists come to the Soomaa National Park?
They come to see the special landscape and nature the SNP offers.

    Can you think of any products that are missing, which could attract more tourists?
There could be more trails within the park. The trails should be made more diverse and tallied for
different user groups.

     What are your specific aims/ objectives for the Soomaa National Park and the socio-economic
     development of communities in your region?
I would like to have more target group based products for the Park. For the community I would like to
attract more people to live in the area; and to create more income opportunities.
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    What expectations to you have in relation to the future PAN Parks membership of the Soomaa
    National Park?
I do not have any expectations about the Network: I heard about it but I am not familiar with the entire
concept. I need to gain more information to be able to make a comment about effects of the network.

    What are most socio-economic problems within your area?
We have a problem with unemployment at a local level. That is why many people move into the cities
to gain income or even go abroad, for short or even long time work. Most important sources of income
are work provided by the municipality.

    3.5. Interview with Reevo Maidla
        Position: Union of Viljandi local municipalities
    What is your role? What are your tasks?
I’m the managing director of an association of 15 local municipalities in Viljandi.
We carry out all sorts of development processes, such as constructing tourism routes, organizing
county-size events and conducting educational projects. Momentarily we have an ongoing project with
children up to class 6. They have outdoor classes and study topics in relation to their natural
environment.
The Soomaa National Park only plays a small role for us.

    Which of the villages in your area are important for tourism?
Each of the villages has its own attractions. Some of them are only locally known for some kind of
event, while others attract a wider range of people. Kopu for example is connected to the Soomaa
National Park and is therefore relatively known.
All of the villages have different kinds of tourism activities taking place and therefore it’s difficult to
divide them according to their importance.

    How do you think the tourism development has changed in the region?
The tourism development in the region has been relatively stable in the past few years. I think it
increased a little bit every year. One of the main factors contributing to this development was that
Estonia became a member of the EU. This made it easier for people to travel here, and also many EU
Funds were invested in the countries development.
The tourism information centre in Viljandi is now owned by the association of municipalities and we
therefore have two specialists in the field of tourism.

    What is the perception of tourism among the people within your region?
The local people are very flexible and primarily see the good side of tourism. They have more
business opportunities and therefore a possible increasing income through tourism. Though, I recon
the problem is that tourism is often solely seen from an economic point of view; people think of
making money. In this sense, many forget the importance of nature protection. But I guess it could be
the role of municipalities to make people keep environmental issues in mind.

    Do you associate any threats with tourism to the SNP?
A threat is that the stress on nature has increased rapidly in the past. But as there are methods which
could be implemented in order to control and monitor visitors, I think this shouldn’t be too big of a
problem. Through increasing numbers of tourists, I think the importance of the entrance points of the
national park will grow. Entrance gates could be positioned at the three roads entering the national
park, which would make it relatively easy to control visitor flows. Different ticketing systems and
entrance fees could be implied. Of course there have to be exceptions concerning the entrance fees;
locals for example should get into the national park for free or for a reduced price.
Also, I have to mention, the roads leading into the national park are very bad. This factor might keep
tourists from visiting the national park in the first place.
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    Why do you think tourists come to the Soomaa National Park?
People come the the Soomaa National Park because it is a unique environment that can’t be found
anywhere else on the planet. Also, the concentration of animals in the park is quite high, which offers
great opportunities for visitors to spot them.

     Can you think of any products that are missing, which could attract more tourists?
At the moment the Soomaa National Park doesn’t offer that many products. I think that there is room
for imagination and new types of products. It has to be said though, that I am not sad that the national
park doesn’t have that much to offer. I prefer to have it like it is in order to keep the natural
environment intact for the next generations to come.

     What are your specific aims/ objectives for the Soomaa National Park and the socio-economic
     development of communities in your region?
In relation to the Soomaa National Park, my objectives stand in relation to improving the road
systems. Regarding the socio-economic development of the communities I must say that there are
many ‘Robinson Cruiso’ –type of people living here. Many people have left this place because its not
really a place to live… If you don’t work in tourism, then there’s not much to do here. Everything is
far away.

     What expectations to you have in relation to the future PAN Parks membership of the Soomaa
     National Park?
First of all I hope that the PAN Parks network initiates new ideas and processes in the Soomaa
National Park.
And secondly, I hope that by being in the network, more tourists come to the area and the quality of
the products will improve.
This membership won’t harm the local population; it might even benefit them in regards to job
opportunities in tourism. It will probably attract local business partners as this environment is perfect
for tourism businesses.

4. NGOs
    4.1. Interview with Meerle Adams
         Position: Manager of the Green Riverland Organisation/ Partnership
    What is your role? What are your tasks?
The Green Riverland Organisation is responsible for the SNP and the wider region which encompasses
part of the Viljandi, Pärnu and Raplamaa County.

     How do you think the tourism development has changed in the region?
I think that the development work is on a new level now. There have been many discussions between
entrepreneurs, people of the NP, NGOs as well as locals in regards to how the region is developing in
relation to tourism.
Last year, at the end of June, the regional strategy was finished of which the SNP is a part. So finally
something is happening. Up until recently, there has been hardly any cooperation of the stakeholders.
Especially tourism entrepreneurs and service providers thought they could manage everything on their
own. Now though they finally understood that the service quality is very important for tourists. Good
quality is hard to be provided by one single person or service provider. Therefore, the cooperation of
service providers increased and they managed to develop the ‘Soomaa’ booklet. Packages are gaining
in importance and these should be formed in cooperation with various service providers to increase the
quality.
Services that have taken place outside the park are now moving into the park.
We organise various projects with tourism entrepreneurs which aim at cooperation and skills. One, for
example, is concerned with first aid. All service providers should be able to do first aid and will obtain
a certificate when they terminated this workshop. We always finance one skilled entrepreneur to do
the workshop with other entrepreneurs.
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     Which role does tourism play for you?
Tourism plays an important role for us. By referring to tourism, we not only mean tourism
entrepreneurs, but also local projects like food produce. Projects like these can be used in the context
of tourism.

     Do you associate any threats with tourism to the SNP?
I don’t associate any unusual problems with tourism.
It has to be mentioned though, that the problem within the SNP is that there are only few local people.
The houses within the NP are in a bad condition, but it is not allowed to build any new houses.
Therefore the old farms have to be used, but these aren’t very appealing as they are very old and
instable.

    Why do you think tourists come to the Soomaa National Park?
This question was asked at a tourism mass in Tallinn and the people answered that they come because
Soomaa is a NP. It therefore has a certain standard. Furthermore they like to escape the urban areas
and spend time in the bogs and forests.
Also they like the fact that the SNP provides various trails and a good walking system to see the
natural features of the park, as they prefer not to have to think about where they can walk and where
not. They like sticking to the paths and being led around.

    Can you think of any products that are missing, which could attract more tourists?
I think that further product development depends on the cooperation between NGOs, locals,
entrepreneurs, etc.
Like I mentioned before, I recon that services should be provided in packages as this benefits more
locals, contributes to cooperation and offers better quality tourism products. A canoe tour operator
could paddle down the river with the tourists and stop at one of the villages. Here the tourists could
have a coffee break and experience the village life. Village people could offer local food and other
products to purchase. This is the idea I have, that a trip has many stopovers. Also, emphasis could be
put on the fact that people come into the NP via Viljandi and not always Pärnu.

     How would you define the ideal/ perfect tourist?
Momentarily you can categorize the visitors to the NP into two groups.
The first group are people that come to the NP in order to escape urban areas. They have informed
themselves about the NP, want to learn more about it and have respect for nature. This is the group of
people I prefer.
The second group are party people; drinkers which are noisy and don’t care about the environment.
This type of tourism doesn’t fit into the context of a NP. But apparently there are many groups like
this coming to the SNP. I think it is a bad direction and the focus of the SNP should be directed more
towards its environmental features.

     What are your specific aims/ objectives for the Soomaa National Park and the economic
     development of communities in your region?
My hopes for the future are that people are more interested in the NP. Packages dealing with the
natural and cultural features of the NP should be offered and these should be put together in
cooperation with various stakeholders. Village and culture tourism would be a good source of income
for the local people.

     What expectations to you have in relation to the future PAN Parks membership of the Soomaa
     National Park?
I find the PAN Parks network good because it promotes the NP on a European level which attracts
more international tourists. I expect the quality of the services to increase and a better cooperation of
entrepreneurs. It might help conserving not only nature but also traditions by reconstructing villages or
so. I like the concept as it is in line with the objectives the Green Riverland Organisation has. We are
heading in the same direction.
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    4.2. Interview with Tiina Korts
        Position: Friends of Soomaa Organisation/ Head of Friends of Soomaa Org.
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
The organisation ‘Friends of Soomaa’ exists since 1997 and comprises around 80 volunteers. This
organisation was founded in order to conduct administrative works, sustain the natural features of the
Soomaa region as well as support local communities.
We have meetings with volunteers approximately 2-4 times per year. Usually we go hiking together or
do some other activities together.

‘Friends of Soomaa’ supports the building of hiking trails in the park and via project funds we put up
info posts etc. I’ve been a project leader for a long time and tried to get money for various different
projects. I implemented those for which we received funding. Through the organisation we have many
contacts within the Soomaa National Park. We help local people in implementing projects and
conducting seminars.
Our organisation offers a lot of workshops for locals which stand in relation to the traditions of the
area. These include making milk or cream, baking bread, making honey, cutting hay and storing it
appropriately over winter. Furthermore we are busy making a national calendar, indicating days that
are of historical relevance.
Furthermore I take a lot of German guests on hiking tours.

    Her vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My vision for the Soomaa National Park is that it will stay such a quiet and peaceful place, as silence
is hard to find anywhere else today…
Furthermore, of course I hope that the flora and fauna of the region will be well conserved in future.
Unfortunately it is relatively hard to spot any animals because the forests are very overgrown, but
there are many other unique features which can be seen, like e.g. turf which is several metres thick.

My objectives regarding the organisation ‘Friends of Soomaa’ are that I hope we’ll continue doing
what we have done the last 12 years. I don’t have any specific aims or so, I just hope we will keep
finding solutions for problems by detecting a ‘golden middle way’ between tourism, nature and local
communities. The organisation should stay like it is.

   Her opinion on what is of interest to tourists
Tourists come here to see the bogs and forests.

    Her perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
The problem of cultural features of the park is that the park is very much left deserted by humans. In
former times, many villages were located next to the rivers and the traditional Estonian farmhouses
were huge, having kitchen, dormitories, stalls etc. under one roof. The lifestyles of the people were
dependent on the floods and one-log boats were a tradition that nowadays looses its importance.
People used to hike to cities in order to get petroleum or salt in winter, as the bogs were frozen and
therefore it was possible to walk over them. Many people left Soomaa involuntarily because of the
war. Also, people from rich villages were often deported to Siberia. A lot of men died in the war and
never returned and many villages in this area were killed during battles. Young people nowadays
move away to urban areas.

In the Soviet times everything got taken away from the local people. Now they got their land back but
it has become part of a national park. Therefore, they are not allowed to cultivate it anymore. Some
regions have also been declared bird areas which are not allowed to be entered.
On the website of ‘Friends of Soomaa’ we collected some of the stories and legends of the national
park.

   Her definition of the ideal tourist
The groups I take on tours range from 2 to 50 people. Some are very much interested in Soomaa,
while others hardly ask any questions.
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The tourist is always the ‘king’. I think that when a person comes to the national park voluntarily, then
he is already ‘perfect’ as he has some sort of reason to make a visit. It is impossible to change tourists
and therefore one has to adapt to them and figure out their needs and wants. Of course it is always nice
to have people here that are interested in natural features and have a high spending power.
I would say that it’s most difficult to deal with school kids as they didn’t necessarily choose to come
here. They can do what ever they like though as long as they don’t litter or damage any habitats.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
What is missing in the Soomaa National Park is accommodation for larger groups. Many people are
interested in camping or spending time in small huts, but bigger groups that are would like to conduct
seminars or so, don’t really have the possibility to spend the night in the national park.
Also, food is a difficult issue to deal with. Many solutions have been tried already, but as tourism is
very seasonal it is difficult to arrange something that is profitable throughout the year.

    Perceived threats through tourism
One of the main threats is the increasing number of tourists to the area. If these aren’t regulated and
managed appropriately, then the carrying capacity is exceeded. Now already many hiking trails are
much wider then they used to be and plants are often picked without permission.
Generally speaking, I think that when tourists bring money to locals, then tourism is ok. But if tourists
are loud and pollute our nature, then tourism becomes a problem. Local people will get annoyed and
want to be left alone.

   Perception of the area of the Soomaa National Park
The borders of the Soomaa National Park are the next biggest villages, like for example Tori and
Kopu.

    Expectation towards the PAN Parks membership
I recon the idea of PAN Parks is very good as this network doesn’t operate at the expense of natural
resources and local people. As most of the people that are active within the national park are business
people, I hope that these will see it the same way. It is also up to them whether tourism and nature
conservation will stay in harmony. If the network functions the way it promises to function, then, like I
said, I think everything will work out fine.

    4.3. Interview with Dagmar Hoder
    Position: Project leader, chairman of management board Tipu Nature School
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
The association for the development of the nature school tries to reach people of all ages; children,
teenagers as well as adults. We aim at initiating encounters between people and nature. Village
development, communication and interaction will be strived for. The project is about involving people
in local development. The work we do has a strong cultural focus. One village house will serve as
facility and assembly to bring people together.

    Her vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My vision is mainly dedicated to this project. I hope that many different people will be engaged in this
project and will enjoy team and group work. The principle of encounters between people and nature
also serves to initiate a change in perspective and an exchange not only between a single person and
nature but also between people. Furthermore, the village house shall serve as overnight facility for
university classes. It will be a nice location to hold seminars relating to the environment and nature.

    Her perceived degree of influence on management processes of the Soomaa National Park
I don’t have any influence at all on managerial processes in the national park as the project I’m
working on is independent. The contact between the management of the park and locals in general is
very poor.
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    Expected degree of involvement in future
I won’t necessarily be more involved in the Soomaa National Park. My area of expertise steers more
towards environmental education. I will therefore have an influence on local development processes
and I will maybe work in cooperation with Aivar Ruukel when it comes to material provision and such
things.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
Especially German, British and Dutch people seek for special tours, like bird watching. These types of
tours are lacking as the necessary expertise might not be available. Also, the educational input is very
poor or not existent. Interpretation and educative material is not provided sufficiently. Furthermore,
improvements could be made regarding the infrastructure in the national park and catering facilities
are also very limited. The Soomaa National Park is also missing accommodation, especially for bigger
groups. And probably because the visitor centre hardly offers any informative and educational input to
the visitor, it is scarcely visited.
Interesting products could also be workshops on hand made foods or crafts and cultural studies.

5. Tourism Board
   5.1. Interview with Annely Kesküll
        Position: Pärnu Tourism Information Centre
   Which role does tourism play for you?
The Soomaa National Park is one of the main natural destinations for the county of Pärnu. Especially
people that live in cities like to visit Soomaa in order to go canoeing or bog shoeing. Approximately
50% of the tourists coming to the visitor centre are Finish.

     How has tourism development changed in the region?
The tourism development is strongly influenced by basic changes in the world. The number of tourists
to Pärnu County has increased in the past years. This might be due to the fact that people living in
cities are increasingly interested in coming to counties and rural areas. A big problem in relation to
this is the lack of public transport and generally the bad connection to counties.

    Can you think of any threats associated with tourism?
The biggest threat to tourism in this region is the media. Only last year the media gave out a short
report on criminality in cities. Apparently a public website asked visitors to rate in which city in
Estonia you would most likely get beaten up. Most of the visitors to the site voted for Pärnu, which
even made people from Finland, which read this in the news, call for at least three months in order to
find out if it was possible to travel to Pärnu again.

    What are strong points for the Soomaa National Park, the wider area and the communities?
The strong point of the national park is pure nature and wilderness. The NGOs founded in the area
help advertising and marketing the Soomaa National Park. Because the Pärnu Tourism Centre only has
limited means of marketing the park as the responsibility is divided upon both the Pärnu and the
Viljandi county.

   Why do you think tourists come to the Soomaa National Park?
Tourists come to the Soomaa National Park because it’s a special place offering wilderness
experiences and many river activities.

    What are your specific aims/ objectives for the Soomaa National Park, the wider area, the tourism
    development and the local communities?
Aivar Ruukel and other entrepreneurs do good work in promoting the area and developing the
objectives not only on paper but making them real. They open new services and are very much
involved in PAN Parks. The aim is to develop the area as a whole and keep sustainability as one of the
strong points. A complex approach is very positive.

I hope to stay proud of sending tourists to the park. The Soomaa National Park is our jewel and we
have to preserve it well.
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Maybe we will also be able to find a cooperation project with another natural area abroad and establish
useful connections in future.
As everyone who pays taxes in Pärnu County in a way owns the Tourism Information Centre I think
that it is important to reflect community interests. The ongoing cooperation with the ‘Green River
Land’ umbrella organisation is very important as well, as this organisation is based on community
interests, local initiative and local developments like local food or tourism.

    Can you think of any products that are missing in the Soomaa National Park, which could attract
    more tourists?
I don’t think there are any products missing in the Soomaa National Park, apart from the issue of
public transport that I mentioned before. Furthermore, accommodation is within the park is lacking,
but people have many possibilities of staying in the areas around the national park.

    What expectations to you have in relation to the future PAN Parks membership of the Soomaa
    National Park?
By becoming a member of PAN Parks, I expect the Soomaa National Park to achieve a better service
quality. I think that the PAN Parks Certificate is very important for the Soomaa National Park as it is a
strong argument for people abroad to come here to Estonia. If more people start coming here, a chain
reaction might be triggered. Furthermore we also have a UNESCO site which is also an attraction
point. So the PAN Parks membership will help to gain international recognition.

6. Tour operators
    6.1. Interview with Aavo Hansberg
        Position: Local Tour Operator/Edela Loodus Matkad Ou
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
I’m a tour operator in the Soomaa National Park, so I mainly offer tours, like for example canoe trips,
saunas and nature trips and walks. For me this is a side job and I would like it to stay that way.
Sometime in the future I would like to buy a small place near the Riisa village from where I can
operate. Tourism is very important, even though its just seasonal.

    His vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
I hope for the Soomaa National Park to stay a unique and whole territory with its natural and cultural
resources. It should be sold well by its stakeholders and every person visiting the park should get the
best out of it. It would be best to sell the park as a whole and not have every small company do its own
thing. Working together is of great importance.
My vision is also that the infrastructure in Soomaa doesn’t hold the number of tourists if it grows.
Therefore improvements have to be made soon.
Hopefully the Soomaa National Park will be known on a European- level soon. I don’t have any
expectations concerning PAN Parks, I will just see what comes. I just hope that tourists will be
regulated well.

    His opinion on what is of interest to tourists
Most of the visitors coming to the Soomaa National Park are Estonians. These can be divided into two
groups. The true nature lovers which come alone or with their families and the ‘fast- food’ nature
tourists which come for the activities. The second type of Estonians comes in big groups and for them
the environment is secondary. Unfortunately they make up the highest number of tourists to the park.
Regarding foreign tourists, I have to say that these mostly come well-equipped to face the true
wildlife. Others are tourists that want to spend time at the beach in Pärnu. If it’s a cloudy day they
come to the Soomaa National Park to entertain themselves but not necessarily to see the nature.

   Places he would show to tourists
The natural features of the park are the unique selling points of the Soomaa National Park.

    His perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
The national park doesn’t really have a lot of history, or at least there aren’t many places where you
can see it. Abandoned places have a historical flair and there are probably some stories to be told.
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There’s not much interpretation offered to tourists, but Soomaa is a lot about freedom and silence. The
people living in the villages cold tell stories about the national park though.

    His definition of the ideal tourist
Well, this is very hard to define… I reckon that individual tourists are best as they all have different
interests in the park and it’s a challenge to try to satisfy these. I personally start from the individual
and try to determine what he/she is interested in.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
I would say that there’s not enough accommodation offered in the park and the food services are
definitely lacking. These two issues can be problematic, especially during the high season.

    Perception of the area of the Soomaa National Park
The borders of the Soomaa National Park are Kopu, Sindi and Tori. One could say that the closest
bigger villages define the borders.

     6.2. Interview with Aivar Ruukel
         Position: Local Tour Operator since 1995
     Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
I offer different types of trips for visitors to the Soomaa National Park. These include non-guided and
guided trips, night walks from 9 pm till 0 am where people can spot beavers and sometimes I have
student groups as well. Also, I offer canoe building workshops.

     His vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My vision for the park is that there is more economic activity taking place. It would be nice to
decrease the seasonality and develop tourism in harmony with other economic activities.
It is important to support nature conservation aims in the long run and keep the Soomaa National Park
as it is. Also, the quality of life of the people living in the park should be improved and the cultural
identity of the park and the people should be restored.

    His perceived degree of influence on management processes of the Soomaa National Park
As I work in the administration of the Soomaa National Park, my influence is relatively strong. Also,
because I am a tour operator, I promote the park and I am responsible for bringing visitors to the park.

    Expected degree of involvement in future
I will still be strongly involved with the park in future and maybe I’ll deal with new tasks and offer
new activities.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
What I would really like to do is offer a more intense canoe building workshop. I know that already
exists but it would be nice having a building for that! Concerning underdeveloped or new activities, I
would say that nature viewing and animal spotting is rather rudimentary. Experts on this field are
scarce and visitors often seek interpretation. People often come to see wolves though, which is rather
impossible. A guide could help, but promising people to see wolves would mean that the animals
would have to be fed, which can have a very negative impact. Animals like birds could be search for
though, as bird watching doesn’t have a strong impact. Also, rare species of plants could be interesting
to some tourists.
Moreover, I would propose offering cultural products in the park. These could be various traditional
crafts or even workshops like the canoe building. Furthermore, offering local food and product is a
good incentive for tourists.

     6.3. Interview with Argo Linnamae
         Position: Local Tour Operator/ Freedom of Adventure
     Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
I live in Pärnu, but 2, 5 years ago I started offering various types of trips like adventure hiking, bog
walking, snow shoeing, canoeing and kayaking in the Soomaa National Park.
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    His vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My vision for the Soomaa National Park is that the nature stays as untouched as it is now and that
tourism is regulated effectively in order to outgo any negative impacts on the wilderness.
From the point of view of an entrepreneur I don’t really have any critics. I’m awaiting the PAN Parks
membership which will hopefully bring a ‘higher quality of guests’ to the park. I mean this in the
sense of people that respect the national park and its natural features.

    His opinion on what is of interest to tourists
Tourists come to the park in order to experience the nature. They enjoy being in the wilderness and
looking at the many bogs. People come here because Soomaa has a strong brand name and offers them
the opportunity to discover untouched nature sites.

    Places he would show to tourists
Like I mentioned before, I think that the untouched nature is of great interest to tourists. Furthermore,
it would be nice to show them small or deserted villages in the park as well as centres of bogs.

    His perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
Concerning the history of Soomaa, the one log boat is essential to mention. It has a connection to the
50s and the high water season that has affected the people here a lot in the past. The 50s in general are
an interesting nature event. It is also interesting that traditions vary according to different areas of the
park.

    His definition of the ideal tourist
I would define the ideal tourist as someone that wants to discover Soomaa’s natural and cultural
resources. It is nice to have a personal connection to the clients. I value people that respect what is
offered to them.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
One of the most important things that is missing or is lacking, is appropriate infrastructure. The park is
very hard to access. Moreover, activities like animal watching could be broadened.

    Perception of the area of the Soomaa National Park
I would say that the borders of the Soomaa National Park are Kopu and all the access points to the
park.

     6.4. Interview with Silver Sams
         Position: Local Tour Operator/ Tori Matkakeskus
     Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
I offer various activities ranging from canoeing over to bow shooting, horse riding and saunas. But my
main activities take place on rivers during the months of May till August.

     His vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
I especially hope for active communities in the Soomaa National Park in future. The park should stay
untouched and conserved, while better communication takes place between the Environmental board
and the board of the national park. Also the board of the park should regulate the activities in the park.
We, the tour operators, offer exclusive wilderness tours and what happens is that we bump into other
tour operators taking their clients to the same spot at the same time. These things should be controlled
and it has to be determined who’s allowed to go where and when, so that the quality of the trips is
upheld. Furthermore, cultural historical sites are very valuable and should be protected. These include
settlements left behind in the 20s. It would be interesting to show these to tourists, but on the other
hand mass tourism would destroy the flair. Additionally, the local county government needs to support
the national park in building infrastructure.
In relation to PAN Parks I expect the number of tourists coming per year to stay, but the quality of the
tourism products will increase and the income through tourism will amount as well through better
quality experiences and higher prices.
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   His opinion on what is of interest to tourists
90% of the clients I have come from Tallinn and they mostly seek sports activities. In general people
come to have a look at the nature, spot animals or experience the fifth season, the flood.

    Places he would show to tourists
Places I find very interesting and worth seeing are deserted houses and settlements where nature has
taken over. These places show nature’s victory over humans.

     His perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
The Soomaa National Park doesn’t really have a history… It also doesn’t have any traditions or
cultural things. Interesting aspects, like I mentioned before, would be the discovering the deserted
settlements.

    His definition of the ideal tourist
For me an ideal tourist is a person who is able and willing to pay for individual guidance. It is more of
an experience if one goes in a small group of one to two people. I prefer people that value and respect
the nature and what they can see. Also, the perfect tourist has a lot of time to spend in the park and
spends a lot on personal guides.

     Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
I don’t think there are any products missing… The problem, which could be dealt with through better
communication and cooperation between the stakeholders, is that there is too much competition. There
is too much overlap as everyone offers more or less the same. There should be one specialist in one
field and not more. It doesn’t make sense if everyone is offering everything. In order to make this type
of concept work there needs to be trust and cooperation between the stakeholders. They have to
promote other business partners if they themselves don’t offer what the tourist is looking for.
Moreover, most of the products have to appeal to foreign markets. Locals don’t stay for a long period
of time and they also don’t involve really involve in these types of activities as they can often plan
them by themselves.

    Perception of the area of the Soomaa National Park
I would define the borders of the Soomaa National Park according to changes in the landscape. The
Pärnu river in a way is a landmark and the span of the park reaches more or less from Tori to Uia.

    6.5. Interview with Algirdas- Andrus Martsoo
        Position: Independent Tourism Guide since 1997
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
My main task in the Soomaa National Park is that I build and renew walking trails. Apart from
building trails I also serve as an independent guide for bog walks e.g.. Sometimes I also work for
Aivar Ruukel (TO). The number of visitors I take on guided walks is very much dependent on the
season. I have a wide range of different group sizes, ranging from independent travellers to tour buses.
Per year I recon there are a total number of around 1,000 people walking the trails in Soomaa.
About 80% of the visitors are Estonians, while maybe 1/5 are Germans. The rest are Finns and
Swedish people.

    His vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My hope for the park is that its natural and cultural resources are well preserved in future. It is also
very important to keep the local identity alive! A better cooperation with the private sector would also
be supportive to the park’s management.
Furthermore, an increasing local income through tourism and other practical work, like building
infrastructure for tourism, would be beneficial. Also, it would be advantageous for the Soomaa
National Park if it were better prepared for tourism. Staff that is fluent in foreign languages would be
necessary and would make it easier to sell products to tourists.

    His perceived degree of influence on management processes of the Soomaa National Park
As a guide I have no influence on management matters of the park.
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    Expected degree of involvement in future
I would like to engage in more guided tours with varying degrees of physical activity.

     Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
More extreme walking tours could be a possibility. I, for example, would enjoy taking people on
tougher bog shoeing walks or hikes. Furthermore, an interesting idea would be to find abandoned
villages in the park, discover cultural issues, stories and histories of places.

7. Accommodation
    7.1. Interview with Hitti Sosi
        Position: Veelaager - Accommodation and trips (www.veelaager.de)
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
Since 1999 I offer accommodation, canoeing trips and saunas to tourists. I have five private cottages
and one small house for approximately 20 people.
Sometimes I have around 100 to 200 Estonian clients on a weekend, while I have around 5 foreign
families during the week. Out of 200 people that I accommodate, maybe 15 are interested in the
Soomaa National Park. If parties or dinners are organised I cooperate with the pub in Joesu for
catering.
For me tourism is a hobby in the summertime. It is also a good opportunity for my children to practice
working and foreign languages. In winter time I primarily have company parties here.

   His visions and objectives for the Soomaa National Park
Having 3,000 people per year like now is enough for me as it is more of a hobby.

   Perceived strengths of the Soomaa National Park
The strengths of the Soomaa National Park are its brand name and its status of being a national park.
Also, the location of the national park is very profitable as it is situated in the centre of Estonia.

     Perceived threats towards the Soomaa National Park
Quickly increasing numbers of visitors would pose a threat to the national park, but I think 150 to 250
visitors per month should be fine.

    His opinion on what is of interest to tourists
Most of the individual tourists come to see the swamps, while many companies come here to have
parties.

    Places he would show to tourists
I would recommend both the Riisa and the Ingatsi Trail to my clients. Also the Visitor Centre and the
Beaver Track would be things I would suggest.

    His perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
If my clients are interested in historical issues then I refer them to a guide. I live in the house of my
grandmother, she knew a lot about the villages and especially Riisa, but unfortunately I can’t tell you
any stories.

    His definition of the ideal tourist
I prefer having families here that stay for 1 to 2 weeks. They often come with their own car and are
therefore very independent and you don’t have a lot of trouble with them.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
The only thing I can think of is that the Visitor Centre should be more functioning. Visitor should be
provided with more, cost free materials and the activities in the park should be coordinated by this
facility.
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     His expectations in relation to the PAN Parks membership
I think that the PAN Parks Certification might increase the number of foreign visitors to the Soomaa
National Park. Also I expect the facilities provided by the park to be in a better state. Everything will
be safer and more aesthetic. I also hope for tourism to become less seasonal and increasing
employment possibilities for locals in tourism.

    7.2. Interview with Aimar Kuill
         Position: Junisi - Accommodation and activities (www.junisi.de)
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
We have five camping houses and a total number of 20 beds. Apart form accommodation we offer 4-
wheel motorcycles, paintball shooting, long bow shooting, canoeing, guided hiking tours and if food is
required we cooperate with a catering facility. We exist since 2004 and operate around 4 months per
year. In regards to the accommodation, we receive around 100 clients per month. The total number of
clients per year (including all activities and accommodation) makes up around 1,000. I recon that abut
80% of our clients visit the Soomaa National Park.

    His visions and objectives for the Soomaa National Park
My objective is that our enterprise will grow bigger and we will add 5 additional rooms. We’ve asked
for money from the EU for this expansion, but the project stopped because of the bad economic
situation. Therefore, I hope that this project will work out in the end.

     Perceived strengths of the Soomaa National Park
Strengths of the Soomaa National Park are its nature, bogs and rivers. Also I find the cooperation of
the tourism stakeholders very good.

     Perceived threats towards the Soomaa National Park
It is rather a weakness then a threat, but I would mention the cooperation with the government is
definitely missing. Furthermore the management of the national park and its activities isn’t working
very well. And there are often misunderstandings between nature conservationists and entrepreneurs.

   His opinion on what is of interest to tourists
Tourists come to the Soomaa National Park in order to experience nature, see bogs and flat meadows.
Also, the 5th season is very popular, but it only makes up 1 to 3 weeks per year.

    Places he would show to tourists
I would definitely recommend the Ingatsi Trail to my clients, as well as a visit to the Visitor Centre
where they can collect some information.

    His perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
I know quite a few legends from this area. One for example stands in relation to the dunes of the park.
Apparently a church hid a treasure in the dunes during the war. There have been many treasure hunters
trying to find it, but as the treasure is cursed there are always things happening to the treasure seekers.
Some had a burst tire while others had some other kind of accident that prevented them from finding
the treasure. So up till now, no one has found the treasure because the curse is so strong. It is said that
one man knew where the treasure is. He was going to reveal the mystery if his daughter got married,
but she never did and now the old man is dead. When treasure hunters give up and come back, they
usually bring buttons or coins which they found in the dunes, but that’s it.
Others make jokes about this treasure and say that it is connected to the Swedish king. They joke that
the king lost the northern war because he was too busy trying to hide the treasure and planting trees.

    His definition of the ideal tourist
I don’t really have a type of ideal tourist. Only 2% of the clients we receive are from foreign countries,
but that’s primarily because up till now we’ve only promoted ourselves solely in Estonian.
We either get big groups, usually companies, which organise parties. They engage in activities like
paintball shooting or so. The more independent travellers are those that visit the national park.
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     Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
I can’t really think of anything new we could offer. Maybe cycling routes could be interesting, but that
is relatively difficult to realize because the roads are very dusty. Also skiing or snow scooters could be
an option. But as we don’t always have this much snow in winter, I’m not sure whether it’s worth the
investment…

    His expectations in relation to the PAN Parks membership
In regards to the PAN Parks membership, I expect more foreign clients to come. I don’t think that the
number of tourists will increase though.
Also, the promotion of the national park will be better and the brand name will be recognized on a
European level.

    7.3. Interview with Katrin Ruumet
         Position: Local accommodation provider/ Klaara- Manni Puhkemaja
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
I offer accommodation here in Tori since 2002. Currently I have 10 rooms, but 13 additional rooms
will be provided soon.

    Her vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My aim for the Soomaa National Park is protecting the natural heritage, keeping the ecosystems intact
and preserving a healthy environment for all the flora and fauna. The area of Soomaa should be
protected as a unit in order for it to maintain one face.
Furthermore, communication between the locals and the local municipalities should be improved
because laws are often interpreted in a too strict way so that there is no room for movement.

    Her opinion on what is of interest to tourists
Here I will divide between Estonians and foreigners.
First of all, the Estonians often come in larger groups like families, companies or groups of friends.
We don’t have many individual Estonian guests. Most of the groups seek short and entertaining
activities. They want to get an overview of the park and experience an aha-effect like a beautiful
sunset or something like that.
Most of the foreigners are from Europe. While tourists from neighbouring countries like Latvia or
Finland are few because they think the landscape of their country of origin is very similar to Estonia’s,
many come from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Foreigners know exactly why they are
coming and often have the activities they would like to involve in on their mind. They care for the
environment and do their best not to harm it.

     Places she would show to tourists
Again I will differentiate between foreign and domestic tourists and moreover between the Soomaa
National Park itself and its surrounding area.
Foreigners coming to the Soomaa National Park will be interested in seeing Tori, the sandstone caves
in Tori, the horse farm, the visitor centre of the national park as well as a few of the walking trails.
During the day they therefore undertake small trips and activities and in the evening they come back to
the accommodation and like having contact with local people. These types of things are interesting
enough for them to stay for a while. Outside of the Soomaa National Park, Pärnu is probably the next
destination to visit.
Estonians on the other hand can be distinguished between families and those coming in groups.
Families are interested in more or less the same activities like foreigners. They like guided tours in the
national park and enjoy going canoeing with Silver or Aivar for a day. Groups of friends or companies
have different interests though. They come to do a tour around Tori and the Soomaa National Park.
Their interest focuses on why the national park is unique. They want to learn more about its natural
and cultural values. Outside of the Soomaa National Park, Estonians like going to Pärnu in order to
visit some bars, clubs and restaurants. Big groups sometimes even organise entertainment e.g. in form
of music shows themselves. Sometimes full day tours, mainly for Estonians as they come in bigger
groups, are organised around the park. During a day the group visits the sandstone caves, goes
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canoeing or horseback riding or even bow shooting. In cases like these supper is included and
sometimes a picnic is additionally organised.

    Her perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
Historical things which make the park alive are e.g. the long bog boats which were used in the 50s.
Otherwise there is no cultural or historical background on the Soomaa National Park. Tori on the other
hand has a history, which makes this destination easier to sell.

   Her definition of the ideal tourist
Because I’m a business woman, money does play a role for me. I especially prefer older people and
families that have a higher education. I like people that have a concrete view on life. They are
somehow easier to deal with as they value nature more than others. It is nice to have clients that know
where they are coming and respect the destination.

     Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
I think what is missing are more possibilities of getting acquainted to local people. This proves to be
quite difficult as there are only 80 people living in the Soomaa National Park. I guess human touch
and cultural aspects are lacking though.

    Perception of the area of the Soomaa National Park
I would say that the area of the Soomaa National Park starts from Tori and leads to Kopu. In some
areas it is difficult to define where exactly the borders of the national park are as the landscape doesn’t
really change.

     7.4. Interview with Keili Rändvee
         Position: Riisa Ranjo - Local accommodation provider
     Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
I offer accommodation in the Soomaa National Park since approximately 2005. I have 37 beds and can
provide the visitors with bicycles and boats.

    Her vision/ aim for the Soomaa National Park
My vision or aim is that we will establish a conference hall in the near future. Concerning the Soomaa
National Park I hope that the nature stays freely accessible to everyone and that the management of the
park is transparent. It would be good if market conflicts would be reduced and if the communication
between entrepreneurs would be easier.


    Her opinion on strong points of the Soomaa National Park
First of all, the nature is the strong point of the national park. Additionally I would say that another
strong point is the fact that the facilities in the park are for free.

     Her opinion on what is of interest to tourists
I think that tourists come here primarily because of the nature. They like to engage in day trips offered
in the park.

    Her perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
I don’t really know anything about Soomaa’s history, and my accommodation business also doesn’t
have a past since it only exists for four years.

    Her definition of the ideal tourist
My definition of an ideal tourist is an ordinary person that is friendly and likes personal contact.
    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
I cannot really think of any products that are missing… Though, the hotel spas in Pärnu often offer
day trips, but not yet to the Soomaa National Park. So this could be an idea.
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    Expectations in relation to the PAN Parks membership
I expect more naturally aware clients to come to the Soomaa National Park when it is a member of
PAN Parks. Furthermore, PAN Parks is a good trade mark to sell to tourists and therefore I expect the
number of tourists to increase.

    7.5. Interview with Marika Laidna and Raivo Olesk
        Position: Ponka - Accommodation (www.ponkaland.com)
    Role and tasks in the Soomaa National Park
We exist since 2008 and received our first clients in December. We have around 20 beds and some of
our rooms are shared rooms for up to 6 people. Also we offer a hall for parties. Up till now we have
developed around 1/3 of what we are planning to offer to tourists. But first we will see how everything
goes before we construct everything. Also we cooperate with a catering service in Pärnu when clients
want to arrange a party or have dinner. We’d like to cooperate with a business in the area soon though.

    Their visions and objectives for the Soomaa National Park
We hope that tourism won’t be a seasonal activity for us.
Also we hope that the Soomaa National Park will become a member of PAN Parks as more quality
clients might come.

    Their opinion on what is of interest to tourists
Mostly nature lovers come to the Soomaa National Park. Estonians mainly stay 1-2 days. They come
to the national park in order to engage in activities like canoeing or hiking. Foreigners on the other
hand stay longer. They are more aware of where they are coming and what the destination has to offer.

    Places they would show to tourists
I would recommend the Beaver Track behind the Visitor Centre to tourists. Furthermore, the Riisa
Track is very nice too.

     Their perception of Soomaa’s history, legends and stories that make it alive
I don’t really know a lot about the history of this place. My family (Marika Laidna) has a long history
in relation to this place. I saw in my family tree that a man moved next to the river in 1630, so since
then part of my family has been here. My grandfather lived on this land before, so I have been here
during my childhood.
We don’t really know many legends of Soomaa, but they are always interesting for tourists as they can
create a kind of AHA-effect. In Tori there is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the Baltic States. It
is from around the 1730s or so. But the problem is that no one really knows as no one promotes these
things.

    Their definition of the ideal tourist
I (Raivo Olesk) would like to receive more Russian tourists as Russians are very good and loyal
clients. I also speak Russian, so that makes it easier to make them feel comfortable. Ideal tourists are
those that pay respect to their environment.

    Product ideas that could attract an amounting number of tourists
Apart from a restaurant offering local food, there is not much missing in this area. Some soft activities
like volleyball or soccer could be offered to tourists though. My wife Marika would like to have more
activities that involve hand-made arts and crafts.

				
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Description: Assessment of the sustainable tourism potential of the Soomaa National Park A research study on potential markets and marketing strategies as part of the STDS that is required for becoming a member of PAN Parks Final thesis - Antje T�bbe NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences International Tourism Management and Consultancy Specialisation: Sustainable Tourism June 2009