Karelia Expert Tourist Service Ltd. is a regional Destination Management Organisation (DMO) in North Karelia, Finland.
The main objective of Karelia Expert Tourist Service is to increase tourism demand in North Karelia. Its responsibilities and tasks include:
- Improving attractiveness of the region through marketing campaigns and activities,
- Development of destination’s commercial relations. This includes development of new partnerships and finding new and high-level international tourism productions to North Karelia,
- Development of tourism products in collaboration with tourism companies,
- Supervision of tourism destination’s interests.
Karelia Expert works closely with regional tourism actors, the national tourism development organisation Visit Finland and other tourism stakeholders in developing the destination. The region of North Karelia is part of the Finnish Lake District which covers regions in Eastern and Central Finland. These regions carry out joint marketing campaigns and promote the Finnish Lakeland in international markets.
Karelia Expert operates under the brand name VisitKarelia. It maintains and creates content for VisitKarelia.fi website listing attractions, tourist services and events available in the region.
Previously Karelia Expert had a subsidiary company (DMC) VisitKarelia Sales Ltd. that rented holiday cottages and sold programme services and tours for groups, companies and individual clients. The DMC was funded through private sources (sale commissions). In 2018 responsibility of these activities were given to private operators.
Karelia Expert Tourist Service is a municipal-funded non-profit organization. Funding is based on agreements between regional municipalities and the DMO. Part of their budget comes from European and national project funds.
Karelia Expert Tourist Service has 5 staff members.
Evidence of success
Karelia Expert Tourist Services has created favourable conditions for tourism growth in the region. It has created new partnerships for the destination, increased awareness of the region both in national and international markets (e.g. fam trips, fairs) and developed the skills and international growth of tourism companies. Due to these activities, the number of international tourist in the region is gradually increasing.
Potential for learning or transfer
Karelia Expert Tourist Service is an example of a DMO that is funded mainly through public funds. It can serve as an example to regions that are planning to establish destination management structures. The organization involves both the public (financing) and the private sector (service providers) and it cooperates actively with other tourism stakeholders.
Most of the tourism companies in the region are SMEs that would find it difficult to succeed or to enter foreign markets without the support of the regional DMO. Through its marketing campaigns and activities SMEs get greater visibility and have better chances to attract new customers. Karelia Expert Tourist Service has also improved the online presence of tourism companies and helped them with product development. All these activities have increased the competitiveness of the region.