Whilst the pandemic pushes the live format of the show to January 2023, Panoptic Events is delighted to join the ‘virtual’ version this year. In normal circumstances, MATKA is the largest travel fair in Northern Europe, which brings together almost 1000 travel organizers, destinations and tourism organizations from over 80 countries! The MATKA program regularly features lectures and presentations about the latest travel and tourism themes and trends. 

Even in the virtual format MATKA will offer Panoptic Events a wide spectrum of exhibitors offer a wide range of destinations to explore, especially domestically in Finland. Panoptic Events has a full agenda of meetings that will allow engagement with representatives of Helsinki, Rovaniemi, Liminka, Oulu and plenty more. 

Ramy James Salameh shares memories of one of his most memorable ever ‘Incentive’ experiences, which took place in Eastern Finland and is something Panoptic Events can easily organise for your corporate group – check-out this unique activity through our very own team member:

River Wild – ‘Rapids Floating’ Incentive in Finland

– Ramy James Salameh reviews this exhilarating Incentive experience –

The first time you do this you will be scared and the second time you will enjoy it – says our team leader as he imitates the river’s meander with his hand. We are about to float down the rapids of Pajakkakoski River in Kuhmo, eastern Finland, without a boat in the middle of winter with temperatures out of the water nearing -30C. Scared? Petrified would be a better, more literal term. Thankfully, the group is well prepared. The bright orange suit, thermals and life jacket might make us walk like astronauts on the moon but at least they’re going to keep us warm. A balaclava, helmet and hood complete the ensemble. I’m cocooned within layers of insulation that only makes my racing heart beat louder. 

The final instruction from our guide is to position ourselves in the middle of the rapids away from the icy banks. He’s barely finished his sentence before the strong current sweeps me downstream at pace. For around 500 metres I’m at the mercy of this fast flowing-beast. Bobbing up and down over the rapids using my arms as oars to remain feet-first and clear of possible obstacles.

The River spits wickedly cold water onto my frozen cheeks and steam from the channel clouds my vision. The water foams menacingly and for a few frantic minutes it propels, pushes and jostles my body as it carries me down river. I feel like a fighter in the wrong weight category as, with tired limbs, I try to hold my position and prevent myself spinning.

The Finns are a quirky bunch, they use the seasons and geography to think of weird and wonderful ways to exploit their landscape in a sustainable and fun way. Whilst in the grip of the swift flowing current, my heart races but my mind becomes sharply focused. Nature has a habit of reinvigorating, regenerating and rebalancing even in these few minutes of exhilaration, which I know will become a life-long memory.

As I reach the only bend in the river the water calms and Pajjakoski starts to run a little more smoothly. For the first time I can appreciate the unusual perspective that floating on my back gives me: the snowy tops of pine trees pass by on both sides and the dome of a local Orthodox Church catches the light from the distant sunset.

“Swim the bank, swim to the bank!” another member of the team barks from the river edge. Easier said than done, as one must edge out of the current, to be able to move towards terra firma. When I finally get to the bank, there’s another obstacle in my way: getting out. Adopting seal-like movements and rocking back and forth on my stomach I finally find ice thick enough to hold my weight so I can haul myself up on to land. 

The temperatures are so low that the excess water dripping from the survival suit freezes onto me like miniature stalactites. Thinking back, I must have looked like a band member from ‘Lordi’, the extravagant latex monsters that became Finland’s Eurovision-winning export – Remember them? Alas, at that moment I did not really care, as I looked back up the river wondering whether I should do it all over again.

You can view our MICE Guides here.

Are you attending MATKA?

Contact us if you wish to organise this and other incentives in Finland.