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As a nature city towards the new millennium

At the turn of the millennium, Kuusamo changed its municipal form from a rural municipality to a city. Kuusamo adopted the designation “Nature City” to emphasize the combination of city-like services with a diverse and beautiful natural environment.

An airport suitable for modern flight operations was completed in Kuusamo in the 1990s. It opened new perspectives for tourism. After the turn of the millennium, internationalism clearly increased. European tourists were an everyday sight in Kuusamo.

International tourists did not come to Kuusamo just to be attracted by skiing. The northern wilderness environment was perhaps a bigger attraction factor. The companies organized tourism services supporting the northern image, reindeer and dog sled rides, snowmobile safaris, ski hikes and much more. The less popular summer tourism with its customized program services also gained a foothold with internationalization.

Part of Kuusamo’s internationalization is the border traffic from Russia that opened after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As the 21st century progresses, shopping tourism from the Murmansk region and Karelia, as well as further afield from Russia, has been a visible phenomenon in Kuusamo’s large stores, at first as groups arriving by bus, later as guests arriving privately in their cars.

Russian tourists who visit Ruka and other tourist destinations during New Year’s and other public holidays make up their own number and use the wide range of tourist services available.

The development of Kuusamo’s nature town has not been parallel, especially in the central area. The department stores built on its edge have moved business away from the old commercial centre, which has fallen into disrepair due to a lack of customers. Despite many attempts, Kuusamo has so far not been able to create a living historical city centre that offers both its permanent residents and visiting guests a comfortable environment. But it must be remembered that the city centre is only a little over a hundred years old and that seventy years ago the war destroyed it.