Sustainable Tourism in Verla
Kouvola is committed to preserving the rich cultural heritage in the region for future generations to cherish, and for this reason it boasts a number of protected, sustainable sites for visitors. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Verla is a restored and preserved factory community dating from the heyday of early industrialisation. It is a unique site where visitors can learn about the birth of the Finnish forest and paper industry and the life of the people associated with the mill.Find out how sustainability is at the heart of all Verla's operations and daily activities.
Share on social mediaShare this page on Twitter. The link opens a new browser window where the sharing takes place. Share this page on Facebook. The link opens a new browser window where the sharing takes place. Share this page on VKontakte. The link opens a new browser window where the sharing takes place. Share this page on LinkedIn. The link opens a new browser window where the sharing takes place.
Principles of sustainable tourism
The UPM Verla Mill Museum is committed to the common Principles of Sustainable Tourism adopted in 2016 for Finland's UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Metsähallitus' nature services. The principles guide all the operations on the site and cooperation with tourism businesses and services in the area:
1. We support the preservation of valuable features at the sites and promote their protection
2. We minimise the burden on the environment
3. We strengthen local aspects
4. We promote the use of the sites to increase health and wellbeing
5. We promote growth and job creation in the local economy
6. We communicate together the values and services of the site
Preservation and protection of valuable features at the sites
The first principle of sustainable tourism affects every aspect of our operations. Verla has been restored and protected with the utmost attention to detail and strong planning. Of the buildings at the site, 30 are protected by law and the more recent buildings were protected under the local plan which was enforced in 2020. The owner of the site has taken proactive measures to ensure that the standard of preservation meets the criteria of a world heritage site: UPM has applied for the preservation status of the site itself and the local plan was also updated on UPM’s initiative. The ambitious protection goals show in all practical details. UPM has invested substantially to ensure continued preservation of the area. One of the most important projects in this respect include the fireproofing of buildings, the flood barriers built in the Verlankoski rapids in 2015, and the reconstruction of the heating system in the factory buildings in 2018. Verla is a prime example of how buildings, structures and the environment can be successfully preserved with systematic long-term planning.
Verla is located off the main road and is only partly accessible by public transport. The easiest way to reach Verla is by car. For this reason, since summer 2018 the carpark at Verla has had an EV charging station provided by KSS Energia. Virtual accessibility was significantly improved in 2015 by adding a Skyview application for aerial photos and 360 views on the website.The website also has a downloadable and printable walking tour guide for the workers’ housing at the World Heritage Site. This makes it possible for your to visit the site independently throughout the year, free of charge. The guided history tour also encourages visitors to explore the site independently in all seasons.
Verla aims to utilise emission-free energy sources as much as possible. The heating system operates on wood pellets, and since 2020, the electricity is clean hydropower energy generated at Verla’s own plant. The main water line is fitted with a pressure-reducing valve to save water. In addition, an extensive recycling system was introduced during 2021.
Improving our visitors’ wellbeing
According to visitor feedback, the quiet and calm environment at Verla was considered a positive asset – the distant location has its advantages. Cultural sites create wellbeing for the visit through the overall experience. At Verla, this experience focuses on the sense of history and reconnecting with our roots. The concept of creating an immaterial and culturally immersive experience is built around the multilingual mill museum tours and the independent walking routes on the site. The beautiful and well-tended gardens and natural environments are also a valuable party of the experience. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the forests which are an integral part of Verla’s cultural and industrial history. On the Verla Forest Trail, visitors can learn about modern sustainable forestry while enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of the forest.
Verla drives the local economy
Verla is a major driver in the area’s economy: during the high season, it offers jobs for 20 people, and the maintenance and repairs create several additional jobs throughout the year. The impact of tourism on the local economy is created by both direct spending on the site and in the immediate community and the indirect and direct secondary effects of consumption. According to visitor surveys and the local economic survey coordinated by the Association of World Heritage Sites in Finland in 2018, the total revenue impact of tourism at the site is EUR 2.5 million Per year and the effect of years of employment is 24 person-years.
Sustainable Travel Finland
The UPM Verla Mill Museum in Kouvola was the first site in Finland to be awarded the Visit Finland Sustainable Travel Finland label as recognition of its valuable and long-term contribution to sustainable tourism. Sustainable Travel Finland is the sustainable tourism programme coordinated by Visit Finland which provides travel destinations in Finland with a toolkit and models for sustainable tourism and continuous development. Find out more about Sustainable Travel Finland.