Text: Emily Höckert & Monika Lüthje
Film: Louise Romain
Photos: Outi Kugapi
Our previous blog text presented some inspiring souvenirs that ARCTISEN members had brought with them from the first benchmarking trip in Sisimiut, Greenland. While we were not able to join the trip, we decided to summarize the best parts of this very special gathering – according to what we have heard and read afterwards.
After three days in Sisimiut, the group had head towards Nuuk. Nuuk had offered various possibilities to learn about Greenlandic cultures in museums, cultural centers, by visiting community artisans, local shops and restaurants.
Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, has approximately 16,800 residents. There are three hotels in Nuuk – Hotel Nordbo, Hotel Seamen’s Home and Hotel Hans Egede with a conference center with seating for 300 people. There is also a number of small accommodations. Nuuk has an international airport with year-round direct flights from Iceland, via Air Greenland and Air Iceland. Air Greenland operates domestic flights from Nuuk to every region of the country. Everybody can make use the Public and National Library of Greenland, including short term visitors and tourists.
While walking on the streets of Nuuk, many had been amazed by the colorful houses, and felt urge to look in through the windows. In our project on Cultural sensitivity, the project partners are well aware about the inappropriateness of this kind of behavior. The phenomenon of tourists trespassing people’s backyards and taking photos through windows has been recognized as a problem in our home towns and villages in the Nordic countries as well. However, in a role of a tourist, they were able to gain better understanding how one’s genuine curiosity toward ‘exotic’ local ways of life can lead to this kind of irresponsible behavior.
Luckily, our partners were welcomed to local homes for a Kaffemik, organised by Tupilak Travel! Kaffemik means going for a coffee to a local home as you can see in the following video. Please, don’t foget to remove your shoes when entering the host’s home.
We must confess that this part of the trip is the one we have envied the most. While there are some examples of these kinds of tourism products across the Sápmi, our interviews (see reports) indicate that it is quite common that international tourists are interested in meeting the locals and visiting their homes. Visit Greenland’s instructions and inforgaphics ’How to Kaffemik’, serve as great inspiration for those who are interested in developing these kinds of services.
On the following day, the ARCTISEN-team was hosted by award-winning Two Ravens: Greenlandic company that offers, for instance, hiking, camping, skiing, fishing and hunting tours around Nuuk and in the Greenlandic winderness around the year. Important part of their services is to weave together stories and traditions with food outdoors. For many this visit had been an inspiring example of how tourism companies can share local culture in a simple and meaningful way. And they have such a great slogan as well: It’s all about the stories you bring back home!
In sum, the most important lessons from this benchmarking trip included the following aspects:
- Tourism entrepreneur, tell your story. Your story is enough.
- Benchmarking enables tourism entrepreneurs to change roles, and to gain understanding how it is to be a guest in others’ home villages or home towns.
- Tourists are interested in peeking through the windows and to experience local ways of life. What kind of services enable tourists to do this?
- Examples from Greenland show how important it is to use the local resources for cooking and making handicrafts.
- Keep it simple. Mundane things, like gathering around a cup of coffee or strolling around without a hurry, might be enough.
Finally, while the benchmarking trips are inspiring experiences for those who participate in them, it is essential to explore how as many as possible could somehow enjoy the fruits picked from these trips. These two blog-texts have aimed at sharing at least few bites. How could we continue to share these fruits and souvenirs in the future? While Covid-19 pandemic, has forced us to postpone our next benchmarking trip to Canada (planned for May), we are currently exploring the possibilities of organising these kinds of benchmarking events online.
ARCTISEN members will organise a workshop called ’Meeting Up!’ as part of the Nordic Tourism and Hospitality Sympoisum in Akureyri, Iceland. You can find more information about the symposium and our workshop here. Welcome!