What Does Maritime Turku Feel like? was a multisensory study carried out at the University of Turku to explore citizens and tourists’ images of Turku as a maritime city. The new research method provides more precise information than before e.g. for developing urban design and tourism.
Carried out by the Aistila unit at the University of Turku, an application of sensory perception research was developed for the study. The multisensory study charted visual, auditory, smell, taste, and touch perceptions which create maritime experiences. The research survey was answered by over 1,000 residents of Turku and nearby municipalities and by almost 900 foreign tourists.
The research results showed that there are five core maritime Turku experiences: the Aura river, rocky shore, beach, Turku archipelago, and Ruissalo.
The survey also aimed at exploring the locals’ perspectives on what maritime factors are lacking in the city. Many locals long for a view on the sea, nature for exercising by the sea, and easier accessibility of travelling in the archipelago. Additionally, a modern sea bath by the Aura river was wished for.
Residents have a central role in tourism development because they use services throughout the year and also outside the tourism season.
– The citizens of Turku are experts in experiencing what can be done here and what makes the real city with its atmosphere, events, and interesting places, says Development Manager Päivi Pohjolainen from Visit Turku.
– In tourism, we have lately seen that tourists want experiences which are important to locals, too, adds Pohjolainen.
The research results confirmed that maritimity is important to people in the Turku region. This can be seen e.g. with the great success of Föli’s water buses. In their region, the citizens of Turku consider the best places for maritime experiences Ruissalo, the Aura riverside, and the archipelago.
Experience Research Gives Useful Information for City Development
The outcome of the study was identifying the key points of maritime Turku and understanding what kind of sensory perceptions they give to people.
– The maritime experiences identified by the research were documented as multisensory recipes, which work as concrete tools for the designers and implementers of customer experiences, says Research and Concepting Manager Laura Forsman from Aistila.
– The results also confirmed that the best bits of maritime Turku are still hidden treasures from the tourism perspective, because the accessibility of the archipelago and maritime nature is not the best possible, adds Forsman.
– With the research data, city development can be carried out better than before starting with the experiences and ending up with concrete perceptions. The study provides us with a lot of information about the characteristic and unique maritime experience in Turku. This is used for developing the maritime city and its services, says Liaison Manager Antti Kirkkola of the City of Turku.
The research indicates, for instance, why the rocky shore is significant and wanted to be experienced by people alone or together with others important to them. The rocky shore is regarded as a place for a calming and purifying experience of the sea with all the senses.
The study was carried out by Aistila, which is a business unit within the Functional Foods Forum at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Turku. The clients and sponsors of the study included Turku Urban Research Programme and Visit Finland.
Photo: City of Turku, Arto Takala