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Verla Groundwood and Board Mill
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Verla Mill community is located in a small village called Jaala with a close proximity of Kymi river which is one of the biggest rivers in in Southeast Finland. The mill itself is fairly small but had a good reputation as a trustworthy location for producing cardboard. The mill was founded in 1872 but shortly after that burned to the ground because of construction faults. In 1882 new facilities were built and this is what you can find in Jaala even nowadays (Verlan tehdasmuseo, n.y.).
The forest industry grew to have a major part in building up Finland's economy starting from the industrial revolution in the 19th century. One main reason for developing forestry was the extensive network of lakes and rivers connecting places and providing means of transportation. The former agricultural country was converted into forest industry (Kortelainen, 1999). The Verla Mill community is one of the only ones surviving up to this date with the atmosphere of an old industrial village. In the community there could be found commodities such as a shop, sauna and a community centre (Verlan tehdasmuseo, n.y.).
In the 19th and 20th century paper and board production was big in North America and Europe which is why Verla Mill community symbolizes that industrialization era to the society and a way of seeing how things used to be done in the old days (UNESCO, 1992- 2014). According to UNESCO (1992-2014) the board and paper mill of Verla represents "a small- scale rural industrial settlement" that was common in the 19th and 20th century and was selected as a Culture heritage site in 1996 because of its exceptional condition. The mill provides a historical significance that can also be used nowadays to promote tourism to the region. Kymenlaakso, the municipality surrounding Jaala, is well known for paper production, even up to today big companies such as Stora Enso and UPM have their factories along river Kymi (Held Cassel, Pashkevich, 2014; Mokkala, 2014).
The managerial challenges of Verla Mill is definitely the creative destruction referred in Held Cassel and Pashkevich (2014). The municipality and stakeholders together have created an festival that tells the story of ancient times with knights and princesses. The problem is that Verla was an industrial village with forestry and this is not used in the storytelling. The image of the particular World Heritage site seems to be still on the making. The second managerial issue would be the conflict between tourism and heritage referred in Aas, Ladkin and Fletcher (2005). The old Mill is now home to for example a winery, museum, conference rooms and cafes. The tourist office wants to use the site only to attract tourists but on the other hand UNESCO emphasizes also the educational point of view and preservation of the area. Verla is seen more as an tourist attraction than a culture heritage site by the municipality (Verla tehdasmuseo, n.y.; Mokkala, 2014).
AAS, C., LADKIN, A. and FLETCHER, J. (2005) Stakeholder collaboration and heritage management. Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 28–48.
HELDT CASSEL, S. and PASHKEVICH, A. (2014) World heritage and tourism innovation: institutional frameworks and local adaptation. European Planning Studies.Vol. 22, No. 8, pp. 1625–1640.
KORTELAINEN, J. (1999) The river as an actor-network: the Finnish forest industry utilization of lake and river systems. Geoforum. Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 235-247.
MOKKALA, M. (2014) Own experience of cultural heritage site and knowledge from working in the economic development company of the region. [Reviewed 11.11.2014] student/Finnish citizen, firstname.lastname@example.org
UNESCO (1992-2014) Verla Groundwood and Board Mill. [Online]. Available in: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/751 [Accessed 11.11.2014]
VERLAN TEHDASMUSEO (n.y.) History of Verla Mill community. [Online] Available in: http://www.verla.fi/en/history [Accessed 05.11.2014]
Written by Marianne Mokkala
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