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28.11.2023 11:00

Saariselkä Ski & Sport Resort Oy is moving towards sustainable ski resort operations

Master thesis of Ida Katajamaa studied Saariselkä Ski & Sport Resort: how a sustainable development plan could be created for the ski resort and what was the level of sustainability of the case company from the perspectives of environmental, economic, and socio-cultural sustainability, and how the operations could be developed.


Climate change is heating the Arctic quickly, and ski resorts traditionally require snow to run their operations. While substantial pressure is put on governing bodies, the question is - how can ski resorts themselves become more sustainable and climate-friendly? The master thesis studied the specific case of Saariselkä Ski & Sport Resort, focusing on two research goals: how a sustainable development plan could be created for the ski resort and what was the level of sustainability of the case company from the perspectives of environmental, economic, and socio-cultural sustainability, and how the operations could be developed.

The structure of the qualitative case study research was based on sustainable business model innovation – studying the case company’s key partners, key activities, value propositions, customer relationships, customer segments, key resources, channels, cost structure, revenue streams, and the case company’s eco-social costs and benefits. The requirements for the sustainable travel plan were also influenced by the national and international environmental policies and handbooks of the Finnish Ski Area Association and Sustainable Travel Finland program.

The empirical research was conducted through interviews with the case company’s owners and key employees representing the case company’s different departments: maintenance, rental, sales, and restaurant. The research showed that while the case company had already made steps towards sustainable practices, especially from the perspective of socio-cultural sustainability, more systematic and pre-planned sustainability work was required.

The thesis research resulted in a sustainable development plan, including a detailed action plan with concrete tasks needed to improve sustainability at the case company. It was suggested that for the case company to be more environmentally sustainable, it should for instance increase the amount of climate-friendly, local products at its restaurant and rental shop, change to 100% renewable energy, invest in LED lights, and motion detectors, and restore forests in the slope areas. From the perspective of economic sustainability, the case company should aim at increasing the number of local staff members, creating traineeship possibilities, and creating a purchasing plan and guidelines ensuring clear practices. To become more socio-culturally sustainable, the case company should improve the skiing possibilities of the local population, donate to charity, increase the accessibility of the infrastructure, develop adaptive skiing possibilities, and offer training to staff focusing on the local culture and language.

Graph about Saariselkä Ski Resort steps for more sustainable operations

Graph 1: Saariselkä Ski & Sport Resort’s steps for more sustainable operations.


Together with the case company’s owners, the thesis author created a strategic timeline for the case company’s future steps toward increased sustainability in ski resort operations. It was argued, that as sustainable business operations are likely both resource-efficient and more eco-socially friendly, there should be no question whether other ski resorts should also begin their sustainability journey today.

For more information, please contact:

Ida Katajamaa
Tel. +358 45 840 8157
E-Mail: ida.katajamaa(at)skisaariselka.fi



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