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Opinnäytetyö: Hungry for Finland Competition 2023 – Insights on Finnish food tourism

Author of the Thesis: Ilias Kuntras (2023)

Hungry for Finland has commissioned the thesis to research the products and services of the National Food Tourism Competition 2023. The competition encourages local networks related to food and tourism to develop food tourism offerings – based on responsibility and locality. Also, the competition aims to strengthen the productization of experiential food tourism in Finland, search for top food tourism products, and enhance local cooperation.

A Portrayal of Finnish Food Tourism

The thesis seeks to answer key questions regarding the portrayal of Finnish food tourism through professional participation in the National Food Tourism Competition 2023. The main research question of the thesis is: How does Finnish food tourism appear through the participants of the National Food Tourism Competition 2023? The sub-questions are: How are locality and sustainability involved in the products? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Finnish food tourism?

Food tourism is a driving factor for travelling locally and internationally. Sustainability in this context is visible through local producers, seasonality and innovation found in the products. Locality is the sense of place in food tourism from experiencing what each region offers through culinary experiences. The theory of the thesis is based on food tourism, which means exploring the role of food in the tourism experience. Another applied theory is the ”authenticity theory,” which is based on the importance of an authentic food tourism experience reflecting local food culture and heritage.

The theory extends to ”memorable tourism” arguing how multisensory experiences create memorable experiences – when food tourism is exposed through meaningful and immersive products or services. To frame the idea of the theories, the author connects the experience economy model, which examines the value of luxury in food tourism in this context. The data was gathered by the commissioner between 01.5.2023 and 31.7.2023. This thesis was carried out from 23.8.2023 to 17.11.2023. This research is based on 46 products, and the main results were found to be ”locality” and ”storytelling” as the products’ strengths. Further suggestions refer to continuing a content analysis based on mixed-method research for all the products and their pricing, marketing channels, and service quality tools, which were excluded in this paper.

Finland is Redefining Luxury: Multisensory, Sustainable Food Tourism Experiences

The results show that Finnish food tourism offers a multisensory experience for travelers to Finland while remaining sustainable and redefining luxury in food tourism. The findings of this research highlight a focus on quality over quantity in food tourism products, targeting a niche audience in Finnish food tourism. Despite the rise in global crises, Finland remains a safe, adventurous, and authentic destination with compelling storytelling. Finally, the author suggests development points for the commissioner to build social media strategies and offer consulting services for food tourism businesses to improve their storytelling and marketing plans.