AL2 Tourism in Lapland

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The numbers of registered overnight stays at accommodation businesses in Lapland have increased since the 1990s. The increase has become steeper in the 2000s, but it started to fall after 2008. In 2012 the amount of overnight stays exceeded the the levels in 2008, equaling 2.4 million stays.

In the three northernmost municipalities of Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki the increase of the number of overnight stays has been more moderate, but at least in Inari there has been a clear 25% increase since 1995.

Visits to national parks have become more common during the last ten years. Pallas?Ylläs and Pyhä?Luosto national parks were established in their present extent in 2005. The estimated number of visits to both of these areas was already in 2007 over ten thousand more than in 2005. Urho Kekkonen national park also seems to have received somewhat more visits in recent years. The number of visits to Lemmenjoki has remained approximately at the same level.




Impact on biodiversity

Tourism is one of the human activities that influences biodiversity in the alpine areas the most. Tourism may threaten the wilderness-like character of these areas especially since it usually is associated with increasing off-road traffic (AL3). This includes, for example, snow mobile safaris and transportation by helicopter to distant resorts. Hiking and nature tourism cause erosion of soil and vegetation around the most popular routes in national parks. The effects of trampling may be destructive for the ground vegetation communities, which often recover slowly in northern conditions. Certain animal species may also be disturbed by visitor groups.

The number of visitors is already greater than the vegetation can tolerate in many national parks. Therefore the need to direct visitors away from vulnerable sites is increasing. Tourism is at the same time very important for Lapland. Many of its indirect effects actually benefit biodiversity too, for example by bringing conservation areas and their importance under public attention.


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