Returnees understand the richness of local travel

Text: Essi Keskitalo Photo: Jaana Mälkki

As the saying goes “Sometimes you have to go far to see close”. The richness of one’s homeland opens up differently after travelling. After going around the world Jaana Mälkki has found this to be true.

During her career, Jaana has worked as a tour guide with Aurinkomatkat, at Finnair airport and as an au pair in the United States. The beautiful nature and its proximity enticed her to return to her home region of Satakunta. 
- Pori is a wonderful city! It is easy to take care of things here, everything is nearby and life is simple.

After having seen the world, Jaana has a solid idea of what makes Satakunta interesting to foreigners. These are usually things that Finnish people do not necessarily see or appreciate. 
- The Nordic light, space and peacefulness surprise people. The nature with its rivers and lakes also enchant people. Forests like these do not exist elsewhere in the world!

© WildNordicNature

Knowledge of competitive assets is useful at Jaana's current workplace, Karhuseutu ry. The purpose of the countryside development association is to encourage people, communities, and enterprises to develop their actions and their environment. This happens by granting leader financing to local and international projects, associations and small companies.

International projects and nature tourism

As the Manager of the Transnational Cooperation, Jaana participates in the launching of international projects in the areas of Ravakka and Pyhäjärvi, in addition to the operational areas of the six municipalities that belong to Karhuseutu ry. One of her own projects is leading an international nature tourism project. 
- Our goal is to utilise our foreign partners' eyes in order to create the kind of appreciation for nature and our own region that they deserve. We want to increase local tourism, Jaana says and encourages entrepreneurs interested in nature tourism or associations interested in international projects to contact her. 
- In Europe, there are over 2,000 activity groups with whom we can collaborate. Sharing new ideas and connections is easy.

However, international projects are not only about tourism. 
- We can complete 90% of the work locally and 10% with a partner overseas.

As a supporter of ecology, Jaana tries to minimise travelling in her own work as well, even though her work covers the whole of Europe. Sometimes international guests arrive in Satakunta. Times like that may involve admiring the starry sky in the middle of a wintry night or picking mushrooms in a forest. 
- There is a richness that comes from being in contact with different cultures, fields and people!

Well-being from the Nordic nature

Jaana Mälkki has faith in the nature of Satakunta and Finland. Jaana started a company called Wild Nordic Nature, which sells and markets tourism-related items in Finland and the rest of Europe. She sells products by other entrepreneurs in nature during different seasons as well as her own, such as herbal sauna treatments and paddling classes. Jaana is the right person to ask for help in terms of productisation. VisitFinland named Finrelax one of its TOP25 star companies of 2016; these 25 Finnish products represent Finland overseas as a wellness destination. The award-winning product of Wild Nordic Nature is about exploring Finnish mythology, wild food and the wellness impact of forests on the shores of a lake in the backwoods of Pori and in the Bothnian Sea National Park, as well as enjoying paddling and various sauna treatments in Luvia.