The Power of Scandi

I have been following the Nordic destination marketing for about 20 years as I started studying tourism and marketing communications in the mid 90’s. A lot has changed in marketing and communication since, but the basic essentials in destination and nation branding are still the same. However, the ‘scandi’ everything from food and fashion to lifestyle and liveability is probably hotter than ever right now.

The scandi aesthetics and lifestyle are on lips of aplenty. LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) is our middle name. We’ve always lived by, in, from and with nature as most of us still lived in the countryside until 70’s. Urbanism reached us later than in the rest of Europe. We are just learning how to live in cities. We are also a region where grey is considered as a colour, referring to our long and lightless winters with plenty of water in all of its forms from ice and snow to slush and crust and everything in between.

Modern and Modest, MoMo, is a ‘new’ term in literature and architecture describing the suburban homes of over a million Finns and even more Swedes or Danes. MoMo is our case study house, from the fifties to seventies, as urbanism became a dream for many of us in search of a better life in the cities along with rising urban status. Surprisingly, MoMo is also hotter than ever.

Minimalism, natural experiences and the sound of silence have popped up again in the tourist brochures. The Norwegians are Powered by Nature. You can get Inspired in Iceland. The Danes ride open with their bikes and the power of the wind (and their famous Hygge), while Sweden manifests to be The New Culinary Nation. We Finns are balancing somewhere there in the middle with our Wild & Free, Culture Beat and Silence Please. The Sámi people have also awaken to promote their rich culture and the darkness of the north by newly established Visit Sápmi.

Wellness is in the core from yoga to Yasuragi (a Japanese spa in Lidingö, Stockholm). In Finland you can even go ant watching in the forests, grab cold treatment in minus 110°celcius or get light therapy in your ears. You are supposed to have or do close to nothing. Or devote your holiday for the body and brain. Ski touring is soon more popular than ice hockey. Suddenly the scandi-powered tourism is about the back of our forests, lakes and mountains being the front of the
brochures, stories and communications.

One thing in common to all – and not only of the Nordic countries – is storytelling. We want the world to know about us and about our lifestyle. Even we Finns, finally, are brave enough to tell the world who we are, where we are going to, and where do we come from (although according to a recent study still nobody knows, really). Visit Finland launched a series of films about Paula, The Lighthouse Keeper or Sulo, The Bear-Hugger. Sweden has their crowd source Twitter account while Icelanders, the president included, invite visitors openly to their homes to learn about the lives on the extreme island.

There are quite many LOHAS type of tourism products and services emerging. Lodging, in this case, offers simplicity, modern luxury, aesthetics and cosiness – the Scandinavian way – modern and modest. Here a few places you probably know which are some of the top-sellers in this category:

/ Stokkoya, Norway

/ Juvet, Norway

/ Tree House, Sweden

/ Furillen, Sweden

/ Island Lodge, Sweden

/ Snow Castle, Finland

/ Igloo Hotel, Finland

/ Havsvidden, Åland (autonomous part of Finland)

and a newly opened bonus from Canada:

/ Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland

The accessible remoteness has become priceless. Think – here you are 50 kilometres (45 minutes) away from a metropolitan of 1,5 million people. The quietness is sometimes quite absurd, as we are witnessing it here on our island all year round. Sometimes you see a fox in a week – and that’s it. The only sound being cracking of the ice or a snowstorm roaring in the corners. It feels even the animals keep quiet as the snow softens their sounds.

We only wonder were are the tourists – as there would be an enormous potential for guided tours and accommodation in the area. What an experience for someone new as we are still amazed every time we get out here. Rain or shine, winter or summer or anything in between.

Scandinavian modern luxury is about a hot tub, not a jacuzzi. It’s about a relaxed sauna, not a water park. It’s about bird watching, not a seal-safari. It’s about a summer kitchen in the open, not the Michelin Stars. Or that is at least how I see it. It is about the simple things around us in life that make you happy. The thrill is in exploring something you did not know is there. And very often those little things are the ones that in the end count the most. I’m talking about a soul-warming fish-soup, open fire, woollen socks, wild meat sausages or sea-buckthorns, fresh mushrooms, rhubarb, raspberries and grass-onion growing naturally in the hood, home-baked bread, berries from the back of our islands or handicraft from the region. Things that also tell a great story – even a simple one.

The power of Scandi is a power for life.