Innovation in Virtual Events & Sustainability in a World Facing COVID-19
Resilience and creativity have always been hallmarks of the travel industry. At Miles, we’ve been inspired by the innovative ways that destinations and organizations are exemplifying those qualities, adapting to meet the extraordinary challenges presented by COVID-19. We will be spotlighting those efforts here to help share that inspiration throughout the industry.
Helsinki, the capital of Finland, has emerged as one of the most innovative, progressive and forward-looking city destinations anywhere in the world. It stands out even more for its willingness to change and experiment in a world confronting the challenges of COVID-19.
Helsinki’s innovation as a visitor destination during the COVID-19 crisis is built on the foundation of tight integration with a wider city government entity that is progressive and focused on innovation, especially coordinating tourism’s recovery in two targeted areas of leadership: knowledge and “green” economies. It is redoubling its efforts to rebuild a tourism industry that has deep and wide resident support and engagement and is anchored in the unique strengths of the city.
Helsinki’s story as a destination innovator is not as well-known as other larger, more prominent European cities including Scandinavia’s Stockholm and Copenhagen and major European capitals and visitor destinations including London, Amsterdam or Berlin. Yet Helsinki turns this relative obscurity to its advantage, confident in its own strengths and recognizing it only needs to attract a small percentage of visitors, investors and talent. It openly declares “Helsinki is not for everyone”. It also uses its smaller size as an advantage to position itself as a more flexible and nimble destination partner offering what it touts as “a perfect test-bed for the world’s megacities”.
Two notable areas of innovations stand out in how Helsinki is tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and “building back better”: virtual events and sustainability.
Helsinki’s leadership in virtual events was illustrated by its huge “May Day” celebrations that attracted a live audience in the hundreds of thousands and over one million viewers both live and OnDemand. Helsinki’s leadership in virtual events is built on its vibrant and innovative technology sector including VR technologies. The May Day event was widely seen as an early example of the opportunity for virtual experiences and events to reach new audiences in new and engaging ways – opportunities that could transcend the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guardian noted: “Helsinki’s huge VR gig hints at the potential of virtual tourism’.
- Forbes ‘Virtual Reality Concert in Helsinki Attracts over 1 million spectators’
- More on Helsinki’s May Day Virtual Celebrations
- Behind the scenes in creating “Virtual Helsinki”
Helsinki has deep, city wide commitment to sustainability. This has a well-resourced, multi sector approach to moving to a more sustainable future, and there is strong local resident support. Helsinki has some of the most ambitious targets of any European city: seeking to reduce carbon emissions 60% by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2035.
Hence its credentials as a sustainable visitor destination is well resourced, authentic and credible. This commitment has only grown in reimagining tourism coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its Sustainability Business service works directly with businesses to introduce sustainable business practices from energy conservation initiatives to waste reduction and recycling solutions.
On its “My Helsinki” digital platform is clear, personalized information for both locals and visitors combining all the sustainable choices in the city from experiences and dining to transportation.