Koli is a valuable asset to the North Karelia Region and its regional council. The Regional Council has been involved in the development of Koli Cultura ever since the architecture competition, and it strongly believes in the project. Region Mayor Pentti Hyttinen and development managers Pekka Huovinen and Sami Laakkonen gave their views on the development of Koli.
- The development of Koli has always been close to our hearts at the Regional Council, says Mayor Hyttinen at the start of the interview.
According to Hyttinen, there should be more emphasis on Koli as the jewel of North Karelia, a place with both national and international appeal. The Regional Council has been active at Koli for a long time. It has taken part in the drafting of the master plan for Koli’s development, funded the Sibeliuksen jalanjäljillä (“In the Footsteps of Sibelius”) theatre production, and supported the cultural and economic development of the region in many ways. The Regional Council was also one of the financiers of the Koli Cultura architecture competition in 2009.
- It is time to take the next step in the development of Koli, and to rest on broader shoulders. Closer cooperation between different operators is required. I believe that when it is complete, Koli Cultura will be the heart of North Karelia, radiating good all around it. Koli Cultura is developed towards a common good by the joint efforts of the Regional Council, other Koli stakeholders and the North Karelian tourism and service industries, explains Development Manager Pekka Huovinen from the Regional Council.
According to Huovinen, project cooperation between local operators and those from other locations is a valuable asset. It is also important to promote cooperation between different tourist destinations within the region. This requires infrastructure such as good public transport. With regard to the traffic plan of Koli Cultura, Huovinen believes that one of the positive factors is that Koli Cultura will reduce the traffic pressure within the national park. The development of transport links between different destinations requires joint efforts. As Hyttinen points out, the development of Koli and involvement in the project is important for Joensuu, the largest city of the Karelia Region.
- More efficient transport links between Joensuu and Koli are vital to enable services such as day trips to Koli. Although traffic volumes are likely to increase, there are environmentally friendly low-emission alternatives such as vehicles running on biofuel or electricity, Hyttinen explains.
Sustainability as a Selling Point
The Regional Council has launched a growth programme for 2011-2013. One of its objectives is to attract new investment to the region. Koli plays an important role in the region's development, and the Regional Council aims to support entrepreneurship and direct more investment towards Koli.
Development Manager Sami Laakkonen, who was in charge of tourism development in Lapland for eight years, is keen to emphasise the uniqueness of Koli’s hill and lake landscape. Laakkonen believes that Koli is inherently well-placed for the development of sustainable nature tourism. The national park is the jewel and number one attraction of the entire region, and its ecology and aesthetics must be nurtured.
- The philosophy of Koli Cultura is well-suited to the concept of the national park, and the centre will support the region in myriad ways as it grows and develops. Koli Cultura will be a regional and national model and export asset, when the products used in the construction and design are displayed and available for purchase at the centre, Laakkonen points out.
Hyttinen believes in Koli’s potential as a future trailblazer of sustainable nature tourism. Year-round tourism at Koli could support the region's economy, housing and living, especially in the vicinity of Koli. New services and buildings could also revitalise Koli village. Hyttinen sees Koli Cultura as a potential model for other regions and as an international selling point.
- I believe that international customers and businesses, such as Asian and Indian tourists, will be increasingly attracted to Koli and Koli Cultura in the future, Hyttinen concludes.
Region Mayor Pentti Hyttinen, the Regional Council of North Karelia, tel. +358 (0)40 546 5227
Development Manager Pekka Huovinen, the Regional Council of North Karelia, tel. +358 (0)40 583 5428
Development Manager Sami Laakkonen, the Regional Council of North Karelia, tel. +358 (0)50 443 1661
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