Finished research projects


Project duration and start date:  1.4.2014 – 30.9.2015

Short description of project

The project enhances and promotes thematic Rural Wellbeing tourism products in Europe by supporting transnational co-operation between different tourism stakeholders (SMTEs, DMOs, NTOs, tourism development organizations and research institutes) that are working together to provide, develop and promote sustainable wellbeing tourism products in rural areas. The project adds competitiveness of the Northern Europe as a Rural Wellbeing Tourism Destination by supporting tourism service providers providing services under the theme.

Research activities provide guidelines and support for Rural Wellbeing tourism product development and promotional activities. In addition activities and tools that support the distribution and recognisability of Rural Wellbeing have been developed. The project supports the sustainable development and the visibility of local, regional, national and transnational Rural Wellbeing tourism offering and hence the effects are seen in different levels with different time-dependence. In local and regional levels the increased and improved product offering bring new and also repeat customers to the tourism businesses and destinations. The project also adds the internationalization of the SMTEs.


In long term the increased tourism flows affect positively to turnovers of SMTEs and also to the competitiveness of the tourism businesses and attractiveness of destinations. The appeal and interest customers show towards the products are measured by using customer surveys and market research.


Lead partner/coordinator:

University of Eastern Finland, Centre for Tourism Studies (Finland)



Latvijas Lauku tūrisma asociācija "Lauku ceļotājs"  (Latvia)

Lietuvos kaimo turizmo asociacija (Lithuania)

Hardangerrådet (Norway)

SydDansk Universitet, Center for Landdistriktsforskning (Denmark)

VisitVejle, Vejle Erhvervsudvikling, Erhverv & Kultur (Denmark)

Finnish Tourist Board (Finland)


Prowell-activities 2014-2015


The central project results can be divided into two parts: academic results and business results. 


Academic results

Anne-Mette Hjalager, Kaarina Tervo-Kankare, Anja Tuohino and Henna Konu explored and outlined the wider features of rural wellbeing tourism in the overarching transnational, geographic context of Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Norway and Latvia. The report (Hjalager, A-M., Kaarina Tervo-Kankare, K., Tuohino, A., & Konu, H. (2015). Prowell - towards a new understanding of rural wellbeing tourism. Esbjerg.) can be found and downloaded at


Also market research on rural wellbeing tourists was conducted during the project. 550 responses from rural tourists in northern Europe was collected with online survey. The market research studied motivations, preferance for rural destination attributes, information search behavior and interest in rural wellbeing tourism services. Also 14 rural wellbeing products, each consisting of various services, were identified. The report is accessible at

The english version of the survey used in the customer research is accessible at

Business results


Information on rural wellbeing products developed during the project can be accessed at the following websites:







Rural Well-being definitions and contents; Researcher Kaarina Tervo-Kankare, /University of Eastern Finland, Centre for Tourism Studies and Development manager Anja Tuohino /University of Eastern Finland, Centre for Tourism Studies

Research results for rural wellbeing tourism development from customer survey; Head of Research (e-marketing) Juho Pesonen/University of Eastern Finland, Centre for Tourism Studies

Wellbeing product offer in the Baltics - results of the cooperation trans-nationally and locally; President Asnāte Ziemele, /Lauku CeĮotājs - the Latvian Rural Tourism Association

Finrelax®Growth Programm, Project manager Kiti Häkkinen / Visit Finland case presentation, Marketing and Sales manager Tiina Ruotsalainen / Kalajoki Resort

Hardanger- active rural wellbeing/ Leiv Vambheim, Jan Tjosaas, Trude Rinaldo/Hardangerrådet

The Search for Silence / Morten NielsenVisitVejle, Vejle Erhvervsudvikling, Erhverv & Kultur (Denmark)

EU tourism policy in the field of sustainable tourism and funding opportunities; Policy Officer Ilona Lelonek Husting, European Commission, DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneuship and SMEs, Tourism Policy Unit

Project background


Project is co-funded by the EU on transnational thematic tourism products contributing to a more sustainable tourism, and is awarded under the 2013 call for proposals – Supporting the enhancement and promotion of transnational thematic tourism products".


A short presentation of the project can be found HERE.



Development manager Anja Tuohino,                                                                           



Preventive Wellness, also in The Netherlands

Creating innovative concepts for Dutch wellness centres. An international project 2011 – 2013 initiated by the University of Inholland, Amsterdam|Diemen, The Netherlands PROJECT PARTNERS Dutch Spa and Wellness Association, Thermal and Beauty Group, Exercise Connexion Europe, Living Well, Hidden Profits, Total Wellness, Wellness Stars, Healing Hotels of the World, University of Eastern Finland and University of Inholland. Under graduate students and research fellows will carry out the researches.


WELLNESS Wellness is a worldwide development that can be considered as a reflection of the fact that an increasing number of people are taking their self responsibility in maintaining and creating a healthy balance between body and mind, work and leisure. Worldwide the growing wellness industry is one of the biggest leisure industries and is estimated to represent nearly $2 trillion dollar globally. LEARNING FROM OTHER COUNTRIES The wellness centres in The Netherlands are mainly focused on relaxing and pampering the client. But why not offer them lifestyle programs in the same surrounding, new products and services that we call: preventive wellness? The Dutch wellness managers would like to have a better insight in the success factors of leading wellness countries, such as Germany and Austria. Besides that, The Netherlands want to learn from countries like Finland, that are maybe not very known for their wellness offer, but nevertheless want to define their unique selling points within this industry. Researchers of the UEF have created the concept of Nordic Wellbeing, they worked together with SME’s and partners like the Finnish Tourism Board. The UEF will share their knowledge and experiences within this project.


FOUR PHASES The project is built around four phases:
  • SWOT of The Netherlands as a preventive wellness country and developing Evidence Based Research Methods.
  • Field trip to Germany and Austria and visit our partners of Wellness Stars and Healing Hotels of the World.
  • Defining customer profiles and continuing of Evidence Based Research.
  • Creating new Product Management Concepts that can be implemented in Dutch wellness centres. The University of Inholland also would like integrate the project results into new educational programs on spa and wellness management.
  • FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Anja.Tuohino (at) Roos.Gerritsma (at) (project leader)


STEPPA - Sustainable Tourism in Enterprises, Parks and Protected Areas

STEPPA project’s main aim is to promote and strengthen the cooperation between the different experiences and certification initiatives for small and micro tourism enterprises working with (Charter) protected areas, through the sharing, levelling and enhancement of their sustainability practices and criteria, and strengthen their competitiveness through the development of working partnerships between these initiatives and specialized research and support centres for tourism sustainability.


The project involves ten partners from seven countries: OBJECTIVES a) promote and strengthen the cooperation between the different partnership initiatives aimed at small and micro tourism enterprises working with (Charter) protected areas; b) benchmark the different sustainability certification schemes and business/park working partnerships against best practices at European level and work on their harmonization; c) strengthen businesses’ competitiveness through the support of tourism research centres and access to tailored sustainability research and market tools; d) demonstrate links between implementation of sustainable management systems, increased competitiveness, growth in conservation awareness and support, and businesses and destination value leading to better customer value; e) promote capacity-building of business owners and protected areas’ managers on sustainable tourism approaches and evaluation; f) disseminate best practices at a European level through the creation of online networking platform for sharing of resources and tools for protected areas, businesses, and other interested parties. WORK DESCRIPTION

  • University of Eastern Finland (Finland),
  • Leeds Metropolitan University (UK),
  • EUROPARC Federation (Germany)
  • Consejeria de Medio Ambiente (Andalucia, Spain)
  • Parco Naturale Alpi Marittime (Italy)
  • Parco Naturale Adamello Brenta (Italy)
  • State Nature Conservancy of Slovak Republic (Slovak Republic)
  • Latvian Country Holidays (Latvia)
  • Nationalparkverwaltung Harz (Germany)
  • CoaST (UK).
  1. comparison of different methodologies, and group discussions concerning sustainability standards and practices;
  2. customer research;
  3. business research.