The popularity of Finland's national parks — which enjoyed a bumper year in 2020 — continued into 2021, according to parks and forestry agency Metsähallitus.
There were over four million visits to national parks nationwide last year, the agency said.
This represents a two percent increase on the number of visits in 2020, but a 25 percent increase on the visitor figures from 2019.
The popularity of the parks is set to continue, according to Henrik Jansson, Director of Parks and Wildlife at Metsähallitus.
"Last year showed that many first-timers were coming to the national parks. When international tourists return in the coming years, any decline in the popularity of national parks is unlikely," Jansson said.
Of all 40 national parks, Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park had the highest number of visitors last year, with almost 700,000 people making the trip to the park in Western Lapland.
The second-highest number of visitors were to the Urho Kekkonen National Park, also in Lapland, and third was Nuuksio National Park in the municipalities of Espoo, Kirkkonummi and Vihti, near Helsinki.
Overall, parks in Lapland and northeast Finland proved to be especially popular with nature enthusiasts.
According to Metsähallitus, this can be explained by the sharp increase in domestic tourism as well as the number of people working remotely, especially in holiday homes near national parks.
However, parks located in southern Finland saw a slight dip in visitor numbers compared to 2020, although the figures were still higher than in pre-Covid years.
For example, about 173,000 people visited the Repovesi National Park in Kouvola and Mäntyharju last year, compared with more than 230,000 visitors in 2020.