The “Hallan Sauna” project was funded by the Euregio Karelia Neighbourhood Programme between 2001 and 2006, with the objective of creating a sauna world to Ukkohalla ski resort in Hyrynsalmi municipality, Finland in order to increase the flow of tourists year-round. According to Pekka Oikarinen, the development leader of the Hyrynsalmi Municipality, the tourism of Ukkohalla, and the whole Hyrynsalmi, was in crisis before the project. The project especially aimed to boost the amount of Russian tourists of the area. “After the project, the number of Russian tourists staying the night in the area rose from nearly a hundred to 4000 tourists a year,” Oikarinen explains. In the year following the construction of the sauna world, 2007, there were altogether 100 000 guests staying overnight in Ukkohalla, which meant that the project really had had a positive effect on the tourism and economy of the area.
The diverse services born from the project
The project included the constructions of the Hallan Saaga Wellness & Sauna World, with their wide variety of saunas, washing and dressing facilities and pools. The service quality was also improved and expanded by including some Russian service providers to the product range in order to better service the at the time quickly booming number of Russians visiting the eastern parts of Finland. Because of the project, the number of accommodation rooms rose from around 190 to 350 and bowling alley, shops, world´s most northern wakeboard centre were constructed. In addition, various new companies, such as Hallan Sauna Oy, Hallan Aurinkosaaga Oy and Saagan Safarit were established. The construction of the Sauna World increased the attractiveness of the area in the eyes of investors and as a result, the total amount of investments into the area from the end of the project in 2006 to the year 2020 was between 25 to 30 million euros.
The future of the Sauna World
Recently, the Sauna World has been in auction for private investors, which was part of the original plan of the Hyrynsalmi municipality. As of September of 2020, there were no new buyers for the Sauna, partly because of the drastic new situation followed by the global Covid-19 pandemic but there is not panic in the municipality. After all, the Sauna World has been a great boost for the tourism of Hyrynsalmi and will probably continue in the future as well.