The Finnish island of Ulko-Tammio is urging travelers to disconnect in a big way — by becoming a phone-free destination.
“We encourage visitors to put their phones away voluntarily and to focus their senses on nature rather than on their phones,” Joel Heino, the manager of visitor management at Parks & Wildlife Finland, said in a statement shared with Travel + Leisure.
Ulko-Tammio, which is off the coast of Hamina in the Kotka-Hamina region, is one of about 100 islands located in the 30-mile-wide Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park. It’s known for its rare birds and plants, as well as its “beautiful and lush nature, with its rugged rocky shores,” the area’s tourism site described.
A former wartime frontier post, the island now features nature trails, a bird tower, a cave intended to be used as a shelter during World War II, and two restored cannons. Visitors can access Ulko-Tammio by private boat, ferry, or water taxi, and choose to stay overnight in tents or cabins.
The idea to make the area a phone-free zone came about from seeing the effects of societal addiction to technology. It oftentimes spikes when we’re traveling since there’s a growing expectation and pressure to share those vacation moments instead of actually enjoying them, the organizers explained.
“People are not meant to be glued to screens all the time,” Terhi Mustonen, a psychologist and program manager at Sosped Foundation, a welfare organization, said. “Even a short digital fast can be useful and improve our well-being and help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
Ulko-Tammio is in an area with complete phone coverage and the mandate is technically optional. But the destination hopes that by creating this initiative, more people will turn their focus from their screens to the scenery to really soak in the experience of being on vacation — and truly living in the moment.
“We want to urge holidaymakers to switch off their smart devices and to stop and genuinely enjoy the islands,” Mats Selin, who is part of the Visit Kotka-Hamina team, said in a statement.
The greater goal is that travelers will carry forth that mentality to the entire region, and eventually all of their travels.