What does maritime Turku feel like? was multisensory research carried out in Turku to find out citizens’ and tourists’ images of Turku as a maritime city. The new research method gives more exact information than before, for example, to develop urban design and tourism.

The research was carried out by Aistila. Aistila is a business unit in the University of Turku, within the Functional Foods Forum in the Faculty of Medicine. The clients and the sponsors of the research were Turku Urban Research Programme and Visit Finland.

Research What does maritime Turku feel like? (Miltä merellinen Turku tuntuu?) (pdf)

The research was carried out by the Aistila unit in the University of Turku which developed an application of sensory perception research for this subject. The multisensory research charted visual, auditory, smell, taste and touch perceptions which create maritime experiences for persons. The inquiry of the research was answered by over 1000 residents of Turku and nearby municipalities and by almost 900 foreign tourists.

The research results showed that the maritime experience in Turku crystallises into five core experiences: River Aura, rocky shore, beach, Turku Archipelago and Ruissalo.

The inquiry also aimed at finding out locals’ point of view on what maritime factors are lacking in the city. Many of them long for a view on the sea, nature for exercise by the sea and easier accessibility of travelling in the archipelago. Additionally, a modern sea bath at the River Aura was wished for.

The residents are in 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 at experiencing what can be done here and what the real city is with its atmosphere, events and interesting places, says Development Manager Päivi Pohjolainen of Visit Turku. – In tourism we have lately seen that tourists want to get experiences which are also important to locals.

The research result confirmed that maritimity is important to those in the region of Turku. This is shown, among other things, by the great success of Föli’s water buses. The citizens of Turku think that the best places for maritime experiences in their region are Ruissalo, the riverside of Aurajoki and, of course, the archipelago.

The experience research gives useful information for city development

As a final result, the research brought out the key points of maritime Turku and the understanding of 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 of Aistila. – The results also confirmed that the best bits of maritime Turku are still hidden treasures from the point of view of tourism because the accessibility of the archipelago and maritime nature is not the best possible.

- By means of this research data, city development can be done better than before starting from  experiences and ending up in concrete perceptions. The research gives us 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 a significant experience which a person wants to have alone or with important people. The rocky shore is a place where to seek a calming and purifying experience of the sea with all the senses.