Red carpet under my feet, camera flashes, photographer taking photos by the photo wall, champagne glass in hand, so many glamorous dresses: I feel like I just hit Hollywood.
I got the chance to take part in the FIRST ever Finnish Travel Gala. How amazing is that! We have watched how Sweden has celebrated their own Travel Galas for decades so FINALLY we got our first Travel Gala in Finland. We were maybe a bit late but what made the timing now perfect for the first Finnish Travel Gala ever was that it’s the 100th year of independence for Finland!
Shortly put Travel Gala is about travel professionals getting together and awarding the successful companies in different areas of the tourism industry. The gala was organized by SMAL which is the association of the Finnish Travel Agencies. I was so excited to be able to take part in this event since I have been working few years now on the field and I’m passionate about travel and tourism as you regular readers probably know by now. 😉
The best part of the evening was definitely THE FOOD! And wine of course! The dish to die for was the appetizer which was gravlax with maltbread and whitefish roe mousse served with a glass of Michel Servin Blanc deliciousness. For the main we were served a reindeer fawn roast and potato muffin with dark lingonberry-game sauce and it was accompanied with aromatic and full Bodegas Santa Ana Homage Malbec red wine. Just amazing. The dessert was the traditional Finnish specialty that no one knows how to explain called Britakakku. The base is a cake and it’s topped with meringue and we got it served with caramel sauce and cranberries. It was accompanied with a bubbly glass of perfection called DOCG Brachetto d’Acqui.
Galas are also for awarding people so who won then?
1. Innovation of the year: Allas Sea Pool
Allas Sea Pool combines pools, saunas, restaurant, terrace and café altogether under one roof and it’s located in the hearth of Helsinki. Click here to read more about it on my article.
2. The most captivating presence in the social media: Norppalive
Norppalive broadcasted live video of a ringed seal called “Pullervo” from the Saimaa-lake where ringed seals live. Those seals are endangered so the idea behind Norppalive was to raise the awareness of these endangered cuties. And they did it well!
3. The service experience of the year: Metsähallitus
Metsähallitus takes care of our forests in Finland and they have built a lot of new paths to the national parks.
4. Forerunner of promoting the image of Finland: Slush.
Slush is the world’s leading startup event which gathers startup businesses together for few days in Helsinki. This event has really uplifted the image of Finland all around the world.
5. Sustainable business of the year: Finnair
Airline company Finnair has done long-term planning towards more sustainable business by for example buying a new fleet of A350 planes.
6. The tourism company of the year: Visit Rovaniemi.
Visit Rovaniemi gathers together the entrepreneurs around Lapland and promotes the Lapland travel experience abroad.
Special prize: The crowd’s favourite: Maternity package
Maternity package is kit every mum gets after giving birth to a baby and the kit is granted by the Finnish social security institution Kela. The kit includes baby clothes, bedding, nappies and other child care products. The award was given due to the Maternity package making a breakthrough also abroad and promotes Finland in a very positive light.
That was a lot of talk about the awards but it’s important to highlight the work that has been done in the tourism sector. I think next year I should be chosen to the award of the promoter of the Finland-image – hahah!
I thought the Gala was overall interesting to see: good speeches and interesting to meet all the tourism professionals there! What I found out was that the Finnish Tourism lies on very old shoulders, meaning that I think I was maybe one of the youngest ones attending and the age average was closer to 50. In my perspective maybe Finnish tourism business should involve more youngsters to really get the development going and to keep up with the rest of the world.
In the Gala there were so many beautiful evening gowns! What I found interesting in the Gala outfits was that there were really fancy but then the hairdo didn’t always match the glittering gown. I found the combination of flat hair and glamorous gowns a bit weird but maybe that will be the next Hollywood style. Obviously I also did my own hair but at least I tried to make some curls haha! And I didn’t have the long gown either but it wasn’t mandatory. 😉
Cool experience overall – we’ll see what happens next year!
I will keep on promoting Finland at least!