In Ruka-Kuusamo, tourism is based on the region’s spectacular nature attractions. Conserving them commits us, tourism operators, to act sustainably when we produce tourism services. In line with the 1993 environment declaration by the town of Kuusamo, we comply with the principles of sustainable development in everything we do.
Sustainable tourism in Ruka-Kuusamo
Sustainable tourism is developed in our region systematically and with a long-term plan. We hope that you will also take the principles of sustainable tourism into account on your holiday. On this site, you will find more information about sustainable tourism as well as practical examples and instructions for sustainable tourism.
Ruka-Kuusamo uses a sustainable tourism plan that is updated annually. The plan provides the guidelines for the long-term development of the region’s sustainable tourism from the perspectives of ecological, cultural, social and financial sustainability.
Ruka-Kuusamo’s sustainability principles
The sustainability principles depict Ruka-Kuusamo’s sustainability ambition, values, principles and the directions in which we want to proceed in the future. By signing Visit Finland’s 10 principles of sustainable tourism below, we commit comprehensively to working for more sustainable tourism in Finland.
1. We engage in fair cooperation
We develop tourism together with other operators in our region and industry. Together, we can better influence the future of society and tourism. We want our region to be a great place to live and visit, now and in the future, so we make decisions that are sustainable also for future generations. We treat everyone fairly and with respect, and only engage in fair and honest trade.
2. We take care of nature
We protect our region’s environment, landscapes and biodiversity. Our operations do not exceed nature’s carrying capacity but ensure the preconditions for a good life and preserve a clean operating environment in our region. We also take care of the wellbeing of our animals and treat them with respect.
3. We respect cultural heritage
We cherish the cultural heritage of our region. We aim to present, revive, maintain and strengthen local culture in a genuine and respectful way. We also understand that cultures have always developed through interaction and also learned from one another.
4. We promote wellbeing, human rights and equality
We treat our employees, guests and local residents equally and respectfully, regardless of their background. We take people’s special needs into account in our operations. We train, guide and encourage our personnel to act sustainably.
5. We favour local products
We support regional products, services and companies, and our goal is to employ local people. We favour food made using Finnish ingredients. We engage residents and companies in questions that affect them.
6. We invest in safety and quality
We ensure the safety of local residents, our personnel and guests, and make sure that we follow the regulations of authorities. When we develop our services and products with a focus on quality, we create the preconditions for continuing our own operations.
7. We take climate impacts into consideration
We make climate-smart choices and reduce our carbon footprint. We track the strain tourism puts on the environment and actively measure our use of energy and resources to operate more efficiently.
8. We are open in our communications
We communicate sustainable tourism actions in our region courageously together with future plans and visions. We want to make sustainable tourism in Finland known all over the world. We are open about sharing our successes, but also our challenges.
9. We are continuously developing the vitality of the tourism industry in our region
We are ready to renew our services and products to ensure their demand also in the future. A stable economy and an ethical industry create a basis for sustainable operational development.
10. We commit to the principles of sustainable tourism
We assume an active role in promoting sustainable tourism and implementing these sustainable tourism principles. We prepare a sustainable tourism action plan and commit to even more systematic operations according to the plan in the future. We commit to implementing actions and want to learn more in the future.
Sustainable tourism guide for tourism operators
The region’s tourism operators have the Sustainable Tourism Guide (in Finnish), published in 2018, at their disposal.
Sitoumus2050.fi is an online service where organizations, companies and individuals can make operational commitments for sustainable development.
Ruka-Kuusamo Tourist Association has made a commitment for 2050: Towards more sustainable tourism in Ruka-Kuusamo
"Ruka-Kuusamo Matkailu ry is committed to promoting sustainable tourism in Kuusamo by developing its own operations in accordance with the Ekokompassi system, guiding its member companies along the sustainable tourism development path and encouraging tourists visiting the area to make responsible choices."
The Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism
Ruka-Kuusamo is proud to be a signatory of the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism. We commit to deliver plans aligned with the pathways to cut tourism emissions in half over the next decade and reach Net Zero emissions as soon as possible before 2050.
Visit Finland has developed the Sustainable Travel Finland programme for tourism operators and regions. If companies and tourism regions meet the programme’s strict quality criteria, they can apply for the highly regarded Sustainable Travel Finland label. Ruka-Kuusamo participated in the sustainability programme and is striving to get a Sustainable Travel Finland label for the entire region.
Promoting sustainability in practice
When planning your holiday, choose services that implement different areas of sustainable tourism. In addition to the environment, the operations also consider financial and social sustainability, in addition to cherishing traditions.
When going on a holiday, switch off electrical appliances at home, shut ventilation windows, decrease room temperature and turn down underfloor heating in your bathroom.
Get to know the sustainability instructions below and act accordingly.
The traveller’s etiquette
An etiquette for travellers and tourists (set of ethical guidelines) visiting our region was published in the summer of 2021. Its core messages are as follows:
- Be mindful of safety matters.
- Move around and use the services in the area sustainably.
- Allow also others to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
- Dispose of your rubbish in a bin, sort and recycle whenever possible.
- Favour local food and try local products and services.
Sustainable tourism pledge
The Sustainable Tourism Pledge is designed for visitors coming to and staying in Finland. It guides tourists to act in a way that promotes sustainable tourism and travel.
You can find up-to-date information on recycling stations in Kuusamo from the town of Kuusamo’s website (in Finnish).
- Prisma Kuusamo, Huoparintie 1, Kuusamo: Glass, metal, cardboard, paper, cartons, plastic and clothing.
- Sports field parking area, Vanttajantie, Kuusamo: Glass, metal, cardboard, paper, carton and clothing
- Rukanriutta, Rukatunturi: Glass, metal, cardboard, paper and carton
- Käylä Sale, Käyläntie 9, Käylä: Glass, metal, cardboard, paper and carton
- Kuusamon Jäteasema waste collection station, Ouluntie 57 A, Kuusamo: Residents and holiday residents can take hazardous waste, electrical and electronic waste and garden waste, metal and clean timber waste to the waste collection station free of charge. The costs of receiving this waste are covered with the waste management basic fee collected from properties.
Review the instructions for sorting waste.
Arriving at a holiday destination has a great impact on your holiday’s ecological footprint. Favour a train to Oulu or Rovaniemi, or the bus.
If possible, choose accommodation within walking distance from the slopes, trails and services. This will decrease your car use during your holiday.
Tips for getting around sustainably
You can drive to Kuusamo using an electric car as there are high-power chargers available along the way. The Ruka-Kuusamo region also provides plenty of charging stations for electric cars. You can find more information about the charging stations in the section Parking.
In the winter, SkiBus runs between Kuusamo centre and Ruka village and in the Ruka area. Using the bus is free in the Ruka area for customers with ski passes. Ruka Ski Resort has compensated the fuel emissions of SkiBus traffic in the Ruka area.
The Village-2-Valley Gondola that runs on green electricity takes customers fast from Ruka village to Ruka Valley. In addition to the ski season, the gondola is also in use in the summer for hikers and bikers to get around. The gondola is spacious enough for a pram. Pets are also welcome on the gondola.
An airport bus operates from Kuusamo airport to Ruka and Salla. In the summer, you can reach Oulanka National Park and Karhunkierros Trail with the Karhunkierros Trail bus and Hossa National Park with HossaBussi. Shared taxis are also available.
Kuusamo airport, like other Finavia airports, has been carbon-neutral since 2019. In addition to decreasing its own emissions, Kuusamo airport has committed to decreasing its emissions through a compensation mechanism.
When choosing accommodation, price is often a key factor, but we also recommend taking a look at the sustainability plans of the accommodation providers that you are interested in.
If possible, choose an accommodation provider that cherishes the environment while producing services.
Tips for sustainable accommodation
When assessing the sustainability of operations, the following aspects, among others, can be used as criteria:
- The accommodation uses electricity and heat generated using renewable energy.
- The accommodation has a functional recycling system.
- Structures and equipment in the accommodation are maintained regularly to promote efficient operations and minimum consumption.
- Ecological efficiency is an objective in the accommodation’s procurement.
- The accommodation strives to operate all year round.
- The accommodation personnel are trained and committed to considering the different aspects of sustainable tourism.
It’s important to act smartly also when on holiday. Consume electricity, heat and water only when needed: switch lights on only when necessary, switch your sauna off after you have used it and do not leave windows open for long periods of time. Sort waste into appropriate containers. Recycling saves both natural resources and energy. We aim to continuously develop recycling biowaste in our region.
In Ruka-Kuusamo, many accommodation providers follow the principles of ecological, social and cultural sustainable development. Social sustainability includes safety and equality, among other things. You are welcome as you are! A practical example of social sustainability is Oivanki Outdoor Education Centre’s camps that promote life management.
Cultural sustainability is connected to cherishing local cultural heritage in different ways. Iisakki Village, Pohjolan Pirtti, Isokenkäisten Klubi and Palosaaren Porotila reindeer farm cherish Kuusamo’s cultural heritage in the forms of local architectural tradition as well as adventures and food.
Ruka-Kuusamo is a true home of wild food. Most of our restaurants provide food made of local, pure ingredients.
Find out more about the sustainability programmes of restaurants and choose restaurants that favour local ingredients, develop recycling and decrease food waste.
Tips for sustainable restaurant visits
Many of our restaurants favour local ingredients. Learn more about our site on Wild food and favour small local private restaurants that operate as family companies.
Many of our region’s restaurants have implemented environmental programmes and are always striving to develop waste sorting and recycling in restaurants. We aim to continuously develop recycling biowaste in our region.
Scandic Rukahovi’s restaurant Kaltiokivi is included in the ResQ Club service. You can buy leftover dishes from the restaurant through the app and decrease food waste.
The principles of sustainable tourism are taken into consideration also in our adventures. We are continuously striving to develop our operations in a direction that is more sustainable for the environment and available all year round. Operations all year round also create jobs all year round!
Snowy winters are an absolute precondition for our ski resort operations. To help curb climate change, Ruka became a carbon-neutral ski resort already in 2018.
Tips for sustainable adventures
Ruka Ski Resort is included in the Energy-Efficient Ski Resort deal. Determined, long-term work has achieved great savings in energy costs. At the start of the winter season, we use snow that has been farmed during the subzero temperatures of mid-winter and preserved over the summer, and we aim to continuously develop snowmaking with new technology, for instance.
In addition, Ruka Ski Resort has switched to Neste MY Non Road Diesel™, made 100% from waste and scraps, thus giving up the use of fossil fuels almost completely. Switching to Neste’s renewable fuel oil is part of Ruka’s consistent sustainability work that Ruka and Pyhä initiated as the firsts of the industry with an environmental programme in 2008.
Skiing customers are encouraged to use the environmentally friendly SkiBus when arriving to the slopes. You can find bins at the ski lifts’ base stations, and those moving around the slopes are encouraged to promote safety by complying with the slope rules.
Our event calendar helps you to choose sustainably
Our event search offers you the possibility to choose activities provided by companies that have gained Sustainable Travel Finland badge.
You can find activities powered by your own muscles or those of your four-legged friend in the section Animals. We also aim to make environmentally friendly choices with activities that run on mechanical power, such as four-stroke snowmobiles and electric outboard motors.
Keep slopes, ski trails and campfire sites clean – a responsible skier does not leave anything in nature except tracks from their skis and poles. Hikers take everything they had with them home from the trail. The less waste we have to transport away from nature using mechanical power, the less noise and emissions we create.
The local landscape and recreational value trading model ensures the preservation of beautiful scenery and biodiversity in the region’s privately owned forests, also for visitors to admire.
Supporting locals is part of sustainability
Supporting local communities is also part of the sustainability programme. Every year, Ruka Ski Resort hands over free season ski passes to all Kuusamo residents aged 10 with the aim of encouraging local kids to enjoy the snow and sports.
In addition to this, supporting locals can be seen in the operations of Ruka Ski Resort and many other companies in the region: for instance, as fair cooperation with the region’s entrepreneurs, using local services and creating permanent, all-year employment for those living in the surrounding area.
Today, accessibility is taken into account in tourism already in the design stage of buildings and structures.
Attention has also been paid to the accessibility of adventures and trails.
Tips on accessible services
Wheelchair ramps, sufficiently wide entrance and interior doors, disabled bathrooms (also along hiking trails) and wheelchair ramps are functional practical examples of promoting accessibility in the construction of buildings. However, there is still room for improvement. For instance, accommodation requires more showers and sauna facilities equipped for the disabled, and receptions should also take into account lowered service counter heights.
Companies providing adventures and activities have also paid attention to accessibility: Ruka Ski School provides applied alpine skiing lessons on the Ruka slopes. Northern Lights Expedition’s covered and heated northern lights sleighs, Adventure Apes’ adventures designed for those with visual impairments, Ruska Laukka’s accessible horse services and Taiga School’s river boat provide accessible entry to adventures.
Ruka has an accessible trail leading to the peak of the fell. (Please note! This trail if not at use during summer 2023 due to the building site of new slopes in Masto slope area.) In Oulanka National Park, you can reach the Kiutaköngäs waterfall accessibly along the Könkään kuohu Trail and to the scenery of the starting point of Karhunkierros Trail along the Napapiirin nopia Trail. In Käylä, you can fish on the accessible fishing pier by Käylänkoski waterfall. Hossa National Park has many accessible trails and fishing locations. In addition to a trail structure that enables accessibility, trails managed by Metsähallitus also have outdoor toilets for the disabled.
At the Solstice festival, the Lickalyzer wristband launched by Karhu, the partner of the event, won the "Social Sponsorship of the Year 2022" series in the Sponsorship & Events Awards competition. Karhu wanted to remind the 2022 Solstice revelers about responsible drinking, so a wrist-mounted tester bracelet was piloted at the festival, measuring blood alcohol content from saliva.
Tourism companies with the Sustainable Travel Finland label
We encourage tourism operators to operate systematically to promote sustainable tourism. Our goal is to get at least half of Ruka-Kuusamo’s tourism operators to acquire environmental certification and to meet the objectives required by the Sustainable Travel Finland label. In the Ruka-Kuusamo region, the following companies have been awarded the Sustainable Travel Finland label: