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Phone-free zone: Finland introduces world’s first digital detox tourist island

This Finnish island wants visitors to disconnect from their phones.
This Finnish island wants visitors to disconnect from their phones. Copyright Annika Ruohonen
Copyright Annika Ruohonen
By Charlotte Elton
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This European island is asking tourists to switch off their phones this summer.

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Itching for a digital detox? An island in Finland wants to become the world’s first phone-free tourist zone.

Every summer, millions of social media users snap and share their holidays online

But if you’re tired of thinking about the perfect vacation Instagram - or want to disconnect from pesky work emails while you’re out of office - then Ulko-Tammio is the destination for you.

Located in the Eastern Gulf of Finland, the tiny island has declared itself a ‘phone-free’ zone.

“The island of Ulko-Tammio, which is located off the coast of Hamina, will be a phone-free area this summer,” says Mats Selin, from Visit Kotka-Hamina tourism board.

“We want to urge holidaymakers to switch off their smart devices and to stop and genuinely enjoy the islands.”

Travellers will be asked to keep smart devices in their pockets and to disconnect from social media. The island still has a functioning mobile network.

What is there to do on Ulko-Tammio?

Part of the Eastern Gulf national park, Ulko-Tammio is uninhabited by people. Visitors can stay overnight in tents or cabins.

The new rules - which will be voluntary - will give visitors a chance to “focus on nature”, says Joel Heino, from Parks and Wildlife Finland.

“This is a great initiative that could be implemented in other nature and recreational destinations, too.”

Annika Ruohonen
Turning off your phone can have various positive mental health benefits.Annika Ruohonen

There’s plenty to do once you put your phone away.

Hiking trails wind around the rocky shoreline, and visitors can climb bird-watching towers to check out the island’s rare flora and fauna.

Ulko-Tammio can be reached by private boat, or by sea cruises organised by MeriSet.

Tourists can also catch a water taxi from Varissaari - a historic island fortress. You can charter the taxi from Vaakku, a local restaurant.

What are the benefits of a digital detox?

Smartphones and computers dominate our day-to-day lives.

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European adults average around six hours per day on their screens. But ditching swiping, clicking and typing can have amazing mental health benefits.

A 2022 study found that participants who took a one week break from social media reported ‘significant improvements’ in well-being and sleep quality.

A digital rest can help repair your attention span, too. Constant exposure to digital stimuli impairs our ability to concentrate and think deeply.

A 2019 University of East Anglia study revealed that a ‘digital detox’ holiday increases feelings of connectedness and presence.

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