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About us

About us

Wild Taiga is an association comprising approx. 50 companies in the tourism sector and operating mainly in eastern Kainuu in the area of Suomussalmi and Kuhmo. Most companies operating under the Wild Taiga banner are small, personal artisan entrepreneurs who have collated their local traditions, culture, knowledge and products, to offer visitors the best, unique experiences.

The member companies are, in the main, family businesses. Younger generations are taught the skills of the trade to carry on the traditions and culture. As small business they are dependable on high level of tourist satisfaction with meaningful experiences. As locals they are very aware of the impact tourism can bring to their area and work hard to keep a good balance with the nature, their provider – in all the definition of sustainable tourism.

The association’s mission is to monitor the sector’s general and common interests related to professional activities, to promote co-operation between its members and improve the sector’s general operating prerequisites.

Entrepreneurs in the association represent a comprehensive range of the region’s tourism offering. Active in the association are hotels, entrepreneurs renting out cottages, restaurants as well as programme service companies. Common to all is utilization of the region’s attraction factors in tourism. The main attraction factors in the eastern Kainuu area are unspoilt nature and the richness of the fauna, the colourful history of the area from the Winter War and the culture enriched by the spirit of the Kalevala.

The financial resources for Wild Taiga’s joint marketing are based on the members’ joint marketing fees as well as the city of Kuhmo’s and municipality of Suomussalmi’s funding to the association.

Further information about the association’s activities are available by contacting info@wildtaiga.com
The company listing you can find here.

Sari Rusanen (chairman): sari.rusanen(at)kuhmofestival.fi, tel. +358 8 652 0936

Ritva Huttunen (deputy chairperson): ritva.huttunen(at)kuutamokeikat.fi

Timo Korhonen: hossa(at)retkeilykeskus.fi

Maija-Reetta Daly: info(at)hossanlumo.fi

Riina Nilsson-Määttä: sales(at)martinselkonen.fi

Tarleena Ylönen: tarleena.ylonen(at)hotellikalevala.fi

Petri Heikkinen: petri.heikkinen(at)vuokatinmaa.com

Sabrina Logeais: info(at)taigaspirit.com


The development project implemented by Kajaani University of Applied Sciences was based on the extensive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry and on the financial situation of the companies as well as the rapidly changing operating environment of tourism, along with the related identified needs to maintain the competitiveness of the region (business renewal, responding to changes in consumer behavior, better utilization of business data at different stages of the customer journey).

The project was carried out in close co-operation with Idän Taiga tourism association in the Kuhmo-Suomussalmi region, which implements joint marketing for its member companies under the Wild Taiga brand. The primary target group of the project consisted of the association’s member companies (Wild Taiga companies).

The aim of the project was to collect and utilize business information to improve the digital customer experience and the region competitiveness, develop an operating model of tourism marketing automation (case Wild Taiga), create new content to engage customers and enhance the business skills of the companies in the region.

The objectives were pursued through three work packages with key measures including:

  • Technical development measures for the wildtaiga.fi website, automation system and integrations
  • Collection and enrichment of customer data and customer profiling
  • Development of new types of content to activate and engage customers, and marketing communication activities: automated messages, personalized newsletters, article content, event participation, multi-channel targeted digital campaigns
  • Organizing virtual tours with multi-sensory elements
  • Adopting Visit Finland’s national tourism product database (DataHub), increasing the product offer on the platform and publishing new products on wildtaiga.fi and arcticlakeland.com websites through integration
  • Coaching to develop the companies’ skills in knowledge management, content creation, digital marketing and utilization of new technologies

As a result of the project, Idän Taiga is actively using a communication automation system that utilizes machine learning based artificial intelligence, and has an operating model for basic-level marketing automation developed during the project. During the project, necessary steps towards a better digital customer experience in the region were taken, through both marketing automation and other new technical and content solutions. The most effective ways to gather customer data through marketing efforts have been identified.

The project has created a view of the possibilities and conditions for utilizing marketing automation from the perspective of a tourism association that carries out joint marketing for tourism companies. The desired level of comprehensive utilization of automation, advanced tracking of the path to purchase and the creation of a 360-degree customer view were not achieved due to challenges encountered with the technical integrations of systems and access to booking and sales data. These challenges could not be fully resolved within the resources of the implementer or the project.

Through the project, the digital marketing of Wild Taiga has evolved towards a more efficient and modern direction. Marketing is more personalized and timely. Data-driven, more precisely segmented target audiences have improved targeting of the marketing actions, enabling the provision of meaningful content across multiple channels and communication of Wild Taiga’s tourism services and products that are relevant to customers’ interests. This is reflected in increased engagement rates from website and social media analytics to automated email messages and newsletters.

The results, experiences, materials and new knowledge gained through the project will be used in the activities of both Idän Taiga and the Wild Taiga companies. The association will continue to use the automation system and further develop its marketing automation practices and content after the project, building the follow-up actions on the experience gained during the project. Email automation, personalized newsletter marketing and utilizing data-driven target groups in external campaigns, according to the models developed and tested in the project, will remain a permanent part of the joint marketing activities carried out by Wild Taiga.


Association implements Wild Taiga Online-project in 2018-2021. The Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (Kajaani UAS) was also involved in the implementation of the project, being in charge of the technical design of the VR (virtual reality) environment marketing materials, which were produced for Wild Taiga. As partner of the project, the VR laboratory of the Kajaani UAS provided its experience and knowledge necessary for the implementation of the project’s VR section.

Project budget was funded by Kuhmo Town, Suomussalmi Municipality, Regional Council of Kainuu, Kajaani UAS, Idän Taiga (Wild Taiga) association as well as ERDF (70%).

The key objectives of the project’s main actor lay in offering online reservation capabilities for Wild Taiga products (from at least 25 companies), introducing and testing the VR marketing materials (at least 10 demonstration videos), and participating in Visit Finland’s marketing initiatives for the Lakeland region (with an aim of 5% growth in international traffic to wildtaiga.fi, combined turnover of companies, and international accommodation days).

The co-partner’s objective was to construct a virtual environment tailored for the presentation of a variety of tourist destinations and activities as well as develop a new way to present them. One of the project objectives was to establish a VR software infrastructure through which different travel destinations could be presented using 360-degree video. The aim was to design and implement a VR infrastructure that would facilitate the fast and smooth launching of similar environments and simplify the addition of new videos. Another aim was to further develop 360-degree video production and editing methods to ensure the most efficient presentation of various tourist destinations. Another goal was to enhance the level of expertise and knowledge at Kajaani UAS regarding the production of 360-degree videos, with the ultimate aim of integrating the production of videos and related virtual environments into Kajaani UAS’s service offering.

The objectives of the project were pursued through the following measures: (1) Corporate training on the use of electronic reservation systems, (2) video shoots and presentations using the newly created virtual environment, (3) participation in Visit Finland’s Lakeland campaign (sales events, tour operator and media visits, electronic campaigns), (4) participation in the Kainuu Arctic Lakeland brand development and joint marketing measures, (5) production of marketing materials, (6) participation in tourism safety development, and (7) participation in the negotiations on air travel connections from Kajaani.

The project development goal was to have at least 25 Wild Taiga companies whose products could be booked electronically. Ultimately, this was achieved for twenty-eight (28) companies, exceeding the goal by three (3) enterprises.

Another development goal was to produce 360-degree presentation videos of at least 10 tourist destinations. Nearly 30 activities in 15 different locations were filmed, leading to the production of 16 presentation videos, thus exceeding the goal. In addition, a VR software infrastructure was created onto which the videos could be uploaded and integrated.

The third objective of the project was its involvement in the sales and marketing operations of Visit Finland’s Lakeland marketing campaign. While the participation goal was achieved during the first 18 months of the project, the implementation was necessarily reduced or discontinued in certain areas due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The performance target within this objective was a 5% annual increase in international overnight stays (registered and non-registered), the total turnover of companies, and the number of visitors to the Wild Taiga website. In the first year, the international overnight target was reached, with an increase of 11.35% (34,413), but in 2020 this had fallen to 12,924 overnight stays. The annual growth target for turnover was not met. The international traffic to the WildTaiga.fi website increased by 3.9% in the first year, and then again by 160% in early 2021. The numbers and trends in terms of non-registered overnight stays were investigated through a business survey, while overnight stays by registered persons were derived from the official statistics provided by Statistics Finland.

The Board of the Idän Taiga Association considers the project to have progressed according to the planned measures and to have achieved its objectives despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which immensely hampered the project’s operations. The project represents an important step in the continuing work of the Idän Taiga Association to support member companies’ digital capabilities and has resulted in a significant number of these companies’ products now being available for online booking. Due to the pandemic, tourism marketing underwent a complete change during the project period. The digital leap occurred primarily in terms of sales events as well as in the communication between the project management, the participating companies, and the Arctic Lakeland cooperation network. The Idän Taiga Association and Kajaani UAS were pioneers in the introduction of VR materials in Kainuu, and the Idän Taiga Association was the first to organise virtual exploration trips and introduce market automation.



Wild Taiga Quality

Idän Taiga ry (a local tourism association) launched targeted quality training for companies involved in combined marketing. Wild Taiga Quality training days, led by Haaga-Perho, have been tailored in the Wild Taiga area on the basis of the practically oriented QUALITY 1000 -programme, directed towards the tourist field, and founded on international quality award criteria. The programme included both company quality training and its Quality Network for continuous follow-up, which is the Finnish Tourist Board’s real-time monitoring tool to manage the QUALITY 1000 -process.

The businesses which have undergone the Wild Taiga Quality Start Up training received the Wild Taiga Quality Logo, indicating that the company has invested in the development of its products and services. Also a Wild Taiga Quality Handbook has been adopted for use by the companies involved. This specifies the area’s combined quality criteria and guidelines for monitoring the quality of products and services as well as applying the quality logo on a continuous basis.


Wild Taiga has been awarded with many awards during the past years:


  • Wild Taiga won the title of Finland’s Emerging Tourist Destination of Excellence in the European Commission’s “European Destinations of Excellence” competition.
  • The Finnish Guild of Travel Writers chose Wild Taiga as their winning destination in the same competition.
  • In the ITB Berlin “Scandinavian Travel Award 2008” competition, Wild Taiga was chosen among the TOP 10 companies in the “Erfolg” series.


  • Finnish Champion 2011 in travel marketing – awarded by The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.


  • Second place in marketing category of Chinese Tourist Welcome Awards awarded by COTRI (Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute).


  • Wild Taiga was awarded as a Runner-up in Eden Innovation Prize 2016 -competition in Malta.


  • Five Wild Taiga products were chosen among TOP20 Finnish tourism products, by Visit Finland, in categories Authentic FinRelax or Cultural Experience.
  • Wild Taiga was among the top 15 destinations in “European Best Destinations 2017” competition.


  • Wild Taiga won the Eden Innovation Prize -competition in the category “Best Practice in Trend in tourism: offers for LGBT community”
Wild Taiga summer