Insights from “Ethics of Arctic Tourism” webinar

Text: Vilhelmiina Vainikka and Monika Lüthje

 

The important issue of tourism ethics was addressed in four guest speaker presentations at ETRAC webinar on 28.3.2022. Each speaker brought to the table inspiring thoughts on how to perceive and understand ethics and how to practice ethical tourism in the Arctic and beyond. This text highlights some of the points raised and you are welcome to listen to the presentations on You Tube if you wish to learn more.

Professor Dieter Müller from Umeå University, Sweden gave a presentation on “Producing and consuming tourism in Arctic peripheries: Some thoughts on Contested Phenomenon”. He highlighted a dialogical approach to ethics. This means that there are no simple right or wrong things that would apply in all places, but that we need to be in dialogue with tourism communities about ethics. What is right or wrong has to be negotiated locally. He also asks to what extent should we see individuals or collectivities in relation to ethics? And who are the legitimate stakeholders to say what is right or wrong? Even, for example, demarcation of who is a Northern resident is a tricky issue in a hypermobile World. There are conflicts and dilemmas in tourism development which is a political phenomenon. We need to be prepared that there might be no clear answers as the outcome of the dialogue. See Dieter’s presentation here.

Senior lecturer Anna de Jong, from University of Glasgow, Scotland gave insight on justice in tourism development with her presentation “A Spatial Justice Framework for Tourism Research?”. She introduced a theoretically inclined framework for tourism research in order to evaluate spatial (in)justices in tourism development. She underlined that tourism is considered as a developmental tool in the UK and EU policies and economic support is directed particularly to peripheral areas that have challenges with e.g. lack of attractive employment opportunities and youth drain. Currently many tourism dominated places have been pressured by a trend from traditional tourism products into self-governed experiences and short term rentals in addition to lack of available land and housing issues. There is a tension between hypermobility and situatedness. Justice in tourism means that all locals benefit from tourism as equally as possible, and this should also be the aim of tourism policies. Sustainable tourism has been seen as the response. The framework stems from the lack of assessment on rural policies. The spatial justice framework considers political economy, feminist approach and spatial approach. See Anna’s presentation here.

Professor Guðrún Helgadóttir from University of South-Eastern Norway pondered “Ethics of Arctic Tourism and/or Ethics of Arctic Living?” in her presentation. She stated that tourism should not be considered too much as separate from life in general, that the idea of tourism taking place in liminal space governed by hedonic values is not the ethics leading to sustainable tourism. Ethics of Arctic tourism are ethics of arctic living as tourism impacts everything in communities. Residents become hosts regardless of whether they are tourism workers. Guðrún introduced some interesting findings from her previous studies from Iceland. In the Nordic countries there is considerable volunteer engagement that becomes a tourism resource such as the rescue squads. She discussed how locals display ethics of care towards tourists as fellow human beings, offering assistance, and stating concern for their safety or them being subjected to tourist traps. At the same time her respondents could take a critical stance towards the tourism industry and tourism management by local and national authorities. Such findings beg the question if tourism knows its place in the community? And does it build community and for whom? See Guðrún’s full presentation here.

Associate professor Bryan Grimwood from University of Waterloo, Canada focused his presentation on: “Taking Responsibility for Decolonizing Arctic Tourism”. His approach to ethics centers around who we are and how we ought to live, and therefore he sees ethics as a “process of becoming otherwise”. He reminded us that tourism is not free from colonializing projects and in order to proceed in ethical recovery in Arctic tourism decolonizing politics need to be applied. Bryan addressed different forms of colonialism, particularly settler colonialism and argued that the process of colonialism can be economic, political but also cultural. Settler colonialism tries to remove or destroy Indigenous peoples physically and symbolically and this takes place even today in the Arctic. Taking responsibility is a forward-looking approach rather than one based on blame and decolonization should be made by critiquing and building. This constructive side is especially relevant in ethical recovery. Bryan introduced learning from Elders, working with communities, “listening” to non-human teachers as constructive projects of decolonization.  Listen to Bryan’s presentation here.

The next ETRAC webinar will be organized on 24.5. 15-17 CET via Zoom on “How to Sell Ethical Tourism?”. You are very welcome to participate. Check out latest information on ETRAC project here.

Greetings from ETRAC webinar ”Responsible marketing”

Text: Vilhelmiina Vainikka and Monika Lüthje

Ethical Tourism Recovery in Arctic Communities -project organized a webinar on “Responsible marketing” via Zoom on 3.2.2022. With this text, we will offer you a chance to sneak a peek into some of the inspiring messages our presenters from different parts of the Arctic wanted to deliver.

Sébastien Desnoyers-Picard, the Chief Marketing Officer from Indigenous Tourism Association Canada (ITAC) gave a very powerful and informative presentation on Indigenous tourism reconciliation in action. The COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to a marketing campaign called The Original Original, referring to the original people of the land. They created a logo and the idea was that the Indigenous would become the centerpiece of authentic experiences, as alternative to the fake products and experiences. The focus was in the domestic Canadian audience, who might be interested in Indigenous experiences but do not necessarily know what those are or where to find them. Therefore, the aim of the marketing campaign was to make customers aware of Indigenous experiences, to have visitors recommending others these products, to make the experiences easy to find, have people across the country to purchase Indigenous experiences that is to decentralize tourism. He highlighted that Indigenous tourism is not about Indigenous people but made by them actively with them as the storytellers. Find out more about the campaign:  https://destinationindigenous.ca/blog/the-original-original/

Photo: Alexis Nabisipi

Roger Johansen from Norway. He is the Strategic Development Manager at Northern Norway Tourist Board. His talk was a theoretical exploration into how the surveys for locals could be made better to support responsible tourism and futures that the local people wish to have. This is a dialogical relationship between what is and what is to become, now and future situation and desired one. Which indicators could support the values of these two situations? What is now, is based on top-down hard values and indicators such as export values and tax revenue whereas the what is to become indicators could be bottom-up soft ones like encounters, happiness and relations focusing on local values and good life on the local level.

José-Carlos Garcia-Rosell, Senior Lecturer from University of Lapland, Finland pointed out that according to the current definition of marketing by the American Marketing Association, marketing should not create value only for the customers and the companies but also for the society at large, meaning all the stakeholders. He gave an informative insight into sustainable marketing and social media. He stated that sustainable marketing should focus on the relationship between the firm and different stakeholders and not only be limited to a responsible marketing strategy used to respond to ethical consumers and support customer-firm relationships. Social media in sustainable marketing plays a crucial role in creating spaces for values-based multi-stakeholder dialogues which involves companies, customers and local stakeholders. José -Carlos showed how the case of animal welfare in tourism showed that user-generated content in social media can push issues to be taken care of in the companies. Social media is therefore a vehicle to rise awareness of the responsibility in tourism. Find out more about animal welfare in tourism: http://animaltourismfinland.com/

The webinar was a successful event with the audience consisting of tourism entrepreneurs, DMOs, authorities, and academic scholars and students. Our next webinar on “Ethics of Arctic Tourism” will be organized via zoom on 28.3.2022 15-17 CET. It will provide topical insights to the ethical dimensions of tourism in the Arctic from academic perspectives. Welcome.

Ethical Tourism Recovery in Arctic Communities – COVID-19 survey results

text: Vilhelmiina Vainikka, Rosalind Bryce, Bobby Macaulay

ETRAC (Ethical Tourism Recovery in Arctic Communities) researched what impacts COVID-19 -pandemic has had on tourism stakeholders, what have been their coping strategies and opportunities as well as what is required for the future in terms of enabling ethical tourism recovery. The project continues the work of the lead partners from four previous NPA projects – ARCTISEN, W-POWER, SHAPE and SAINT. The full report of this study can be found from Resources (interreg-npa.eu)

During the project a survey was distributed among the tourism stakeholders. In total 38 responses were received from Finland (21), the UK (10), Canada (2), one each in Belgium, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland and Russia. The most common types of respondent were SMEs or start-up businesses (10) and higher education or research institutions (9), followed by NGOs and interest groups (7), business support organisations (6), Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) (6) and other types of tourism enterprise (5). In addition, small group discussions were facilitated at the kick off webinar of the project for the participants (appr. 20). The results of these will be summarized in the following.

Results 1: General impacts of Covid-19 on tourism

The decline of international visitors and increase of the domestic visitors has had both positive and negative impacts on stakeholders. Positive effects include a light shift towards cultural tourism and more interest into local traditions and culture, but this did not include all regions or all stakeholders. Negative impacts include tensions in rural communities over availability of affordable housing due to increased demand for holiday accommodation by the domestic tourist sector.

Growing interest in outdoor tourism in natural areas has been another “winner” during the pandemic. Positive impacts include improved consumer perceptions of nature, but a negative one is for example overcrowding and littering in some areas.

Economic pressures have led to unemployment and business closures. The stakeholders are still operating within uncertainty and need to adapt their practices according to changing restrictions.

Results 2: Opportunities for innovation and change in tourism practices

The pandemic has created opportunities for innovation and business development. Some stakeholders utilized the opportunity to reconsider the broader philosophy around tourism and led businesses to more explicitly consider and adjust their activities with regard to its impacts on climate change, local people and sustainability more broadly.

New online tools and programmes have opened up possibilities for businesses and enabled new business practice. There has been an increase in the use and importance of digital tools in the marketing and provision of tourism experiences. One of the benefits has been the online networking and collaboration through which the businesses have increased their reach and access to information.

Results 3: Impact on working practices

The respondents reported difficulties in recruiting staff after pandemic had caused periods of unemployment and the situation continues to be uncertain. The young have been particularly hard hit in terms of their employment in tourism sector. Another group effected are the women, often employed in the tourism services.

Results 4: Strategies for ethical recovery

The survey results suggest that there is a critical need to provide ongoing support to SMEs throughout the recovery process. Financial support should be accessible, tailored to specific circumstances and targeted to areas where it is most needed. Training in technology, digital marketing and development of new projects would provide additional support

According to the stakeholders, networking at the regional level and the development of alternative tourism products are important measures to support recovery. An increased attention on domestic tourism was identified as a potential pathway towards responsible and ethical tourism, with a focus on nature and cultural tourism

Community driven tourism plays a crucial part in driving an ethical and sustainable tourism recovery. Stakeholders placed a focus on the importance of partnership: developing and maintaining connections and collaborations for mutual benefit and sustainability.

Barriers to more ethical and sustainable tourism include a lack of clarity over the definitions of these terms and the need to manage trade-offs between different aspects of sustainability.

Conclusions:

COVID-19 -pandemic has had both negative and positive impacts on tourism stakeholders. They see that community-based tourism would be the way forward and that there is growing interest in it. Similarly, nature-based tourism has been increasingly in focus during the pandemic. Stakeholders wish for support in local and international networking, which is crucial for ethical recovery. It is clear that there is need for more ethical tourism in the future with support to concretize the concept in practice. ETRAC will support this transition with an online open innovation and training platform, online knowledge dissemination and networking events and strategy work so stay tuned. You can follow ETRAC news in ARCTISEN Facebook or on the project website https://etrac.interreg-npa.eu

More information: Vilhelmiina Vainikka, University of Lapland, vilhelmiina.vainikka(at)ulapland.fi

New research course on culturally sensitive tourism

Text: Emily Höckert

During the Arctic Spring 2021, ARCTISEN team launched the first online course, CULTURAL SENSITIVITY IN ARCTIC TOURISM. This self-study online course, welcomes everyone to learn more about cultural sensitivity in tourism development. While the course was designed especially for tourism entrepreneurs and tourism workers, it serves as good guidance for tourism developers, DMOs, guides, students and policy-makers. That is, for everyone interested in the topic. Many people have already completed the course and have found it both inspirational and helpful.

I’d love to tell you that I absolutely loved the course you’ve carefully crafted! The information was well organised, in a way that it motivated me to study, and on my own pace! The extra material were very helpful to understand more the topic and the videos were very interesting to listen to. It was inspiring!
                                                                                                    Participant in the course ’Cultural Sensitivity in Arctic Tourism’

Now the COURSE 1 has been accompanied with a research course — with COURSE 2.  The course is designed to help you to enhance your theoretical and conceptual understanding of cultural sensitivity. The course includes articles, reports, inspirational videos, videos and self-reflexive exercises that welcome you to the current discussions on cultural sensitivity in the Arctic.

The course consists of five different chapters that approach the conceptual framework of cultural sensitivity from different aspects: 

  1. Introduction to the course 
  2. Conceptual framework of cultural sensitivity in tourism 
  3. Legacies of ethnocentrism in Arctic tourism  
  4. Culturally sensitive orientation in Arctic tourism
  5. Ongoing discussions on cultural sensitivity in tourism

This self-study online course is open for everyone. The course welcomes tourism workers, students, and everyone else interested in gaining a better theoretical understanding of cultural sensitivity. After the course, you will receive a certificate to show that you have passed the course ( 1 ECTS  = 27 hours of self-study work).

While we recommend you to start with the first course ‘Cultural Sensitivity in Arctic Tourism’, you can also choose to begin directly with this in-depth course.

Please, help us to spread the word about the both courses.

Cultural tourism courses | Uusi eOppimispalvelut.fi Blogs -sivusto

Protecting Sámi sacred sites through culturally sensitive tourism

A blog post on Eleonora Alariesto’s (2021) research: ‘The conflict of sacred and contaminant: The impurifying effects of tourism in Sámi sacred sites’

by Elsbeth Bembom & Randy Bruin

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Sápmi and this growth has led to increased negative environmental impacts, such as soil erosion and pollution. Tourism has also left its traces on Sámi sacred sites, such as Ukko’s rock in Finland, which grew into a tourism destination over the years. What happens with the sacredness of the sites, when more and more tourists visit them?

Ukko’s rock, Äijih, in Inari Sámi, at Lake Inari (See photo) is a Sámi sacred site that served for centuries as a sacrificial place and up until this day the rock still remains a place of high significance among local Inari Sámi communities. However, the rock full of meaning has also become a popular tourism spot during the last couple of decades. After a critical opinion piece by Eeva Harlin and Inka Musta on the need to preserve the sacred natural formation (Harlin and Musta, 2019), a local tour operator decided to end landing on Ukko’s rock and the local authorities removed all infrastructure, such as stairs and a dock, that was added to the island. Eleonora Alariesto, from the University of Lapland, inspired her research on this particular opinion piece (Alariesto, 2021), and examined the different forms of contaminants appearing at the Ukko’s rock sacred site using the theory of impurities. This blog post discusses Alariesto’s research through a culturally sensitive tourism lens: How can cultural sensitivity in Arctic tourism contribute to protecting sacred Sámi sites?

Ukko’s rock (Äijih, Ukonkivi, Ukko, Ukonsaari). Photo: Kaisu Raasakka/Ninara/Flickr

A dirty rock?

Even though the increasing tourism activities at this sacred site have positive economic effects for local tour operators and communities, local Sámi people have raised concerns in terms of the negative cultural and environmental impacts on the rock. To explore these sentiments, Alariesto (2021) chose to collect knowledge from news articles instead of interviewing people from the Inari Sámi community, as she did not want to bother them with yet another interview. Her theoretical framework is based on the theory of impurities by Douglas (2000), which means that what is considered dirty depends on local contexts, beliefs, norms and cultural values. Moreover, something is perceived as ‘dirty’ or inappropriate in relation to a host object, which is meant to be protected and kept clean. In her research, she found three forms of contaminants that threaten the purity and the spiritual meanings and values of Ukko’s rock:

  1. Physical contaminants

Visitors who leave trash behind, urinate, vandalize and harm the nature of the rock are examples of physical contaminants that interfere with the sacred meanings attached by Sámi communities. Other physical adjustments on the island, such as the dock and the stairs, can also be perceived as contaminants.

2. Social contaminants

The Inari Sámi usually do not visit the rock, which makes the presence of tourists and other visitors a source of contaminant that differs from its ‘original’ state. Besides, inappropriate behavior, such as drinking alcohol and snacking at the sacred site, are seen as disrespectful to the spiritual value of the cultural heritage site.

3. Cultural contaminants

Tourists visiting the island have started their own new rituals that are not connected to Sámi spirituality, such as leaving coins behind as a sacrificial practice, like many tourists do at other famous tourism spots (read throwing coins in the Trevi fountain in Rome).

As a result of these contaminants, Alariesto (2021), as a Sámi herself, advocates that Indigenous rights and cultural heritage should be protected, as many aspects of Sámi culture have nearly entirely disappeared after assimilation policies and current conflicts over land-use, where indigenous and capitalist interests clash. As Alariesto (2021) argues: “Furthermore, when protecting sacred sites, it is important to ensure the right of locals to use the sacred site, as these sites are still the subject of a wide range of activities. Sacred places provide a cultural connection with Sámi ancestors, and even if there are no longer active sacrificial rituals there, they are respected and considered essential to building Sámi identity”.

How to move forward in developing tourism at sacred sites in Sápmi? Whether some stakeholders might believe that a ban should be imposed on landing the rock, Harlin and Musta (2019) argue for “better information and guidance, so tourists would know how to act respectfully at sacred sieidi sites”. And Alariesto (2021) believes that: “When Sámi cultures are the major element of a tourism business, cultural sensitivity should be included in its methods of performing its tourism activities” (Alariesto, 2021), which is a thought we aim to discuss further.

“When Sámi cultures are the major element of a tourism business, cultural sensitivity should be included in its methods of performing its tourism activities” (Alariesto, 2021)

 

Call for future culturally sensitive tourism development 

As we have seen throughout the past years during the ARCTISEN project in Sápmi, there is a need for continuous renegotiation over the use of land, which Eleneora’s article exemplifies. In our conversations with Arctic tourism entrepreneurs, local tour operators and DMO representatives, we have heard about examples where tour operators planned to use the forest for their huski safari or snowmobile tours, while Sámi (tourism) businesses have routes for reindeer herding in the same area. Similar to the context of Ukko’s rock, where the needs of Sámi communities, tourists and businesses can create friction, we call for the importance of including cultural sensitivity in tourism development. When tourism stakeholders, whether Indigenous, local or any other affiliation, meet differences with respect, while simultaneously recognizing different needs and knowledge systems through continuous dialogue, disrespectful and environmentally and culturally pollutive behaviour could be avoided. As Viken, Höckert and Grimwood (2021) argue: “… we suggest that culturally sensitive tourism processes occur and thrive in encounters that enable reciprocal exchange between hosts and guests through sharing and receiving, (un)learning and teaching”.

“Instead, we suggest that culturally sensitive tourism processes occur and thrive in encounters that enable reciprocal exchange between hosts and guests through sharing and receiving, (un)learning and teaching” (Viken, Höckert & Grimwood, 2021)

Promoting culturally sensitive tourism practices could serve as a tool to reduce negative cultural and environmental impacts or – as Alariesto (2021) described it: “the impurifying effects of tourism in Sámi sacred sites” (Alariesto, 2021). A call for (more) cultural knowledge, respect, recognition, reciprocity* – in other words, cultural sensitivity – among tourism actors, from tourists to DMOs, could help solve the conflicts of sacred and contaminated sacred sites.

Thank you Eleonora for this inspiring and important research!

 

Sources

Alariesto, E. (2021). The conflict of sacred and contaminant: The impurifying effects of tourism in Sámi sacred sites. Matkailututkimus, 17(1), 64-70.

Harlin and Musta (2019). Myös Suomessa tulee kunnioittaa alkuperäiskansan pyhiä paikkoja. Accessed on 10th of September from: https://www.hs.fi/mielipide/art-2000006287430.html

Viken, A., Höckert, E., & Grimwood, B. S. (2021). Cultural sensitivity: Engaging difference in tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 89, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2021.103223.

 

ARCTISEN online courses

*ARCTISEN has aimed to increase this awareness through, among others, producing two  online courses about the practical and theoretical implications of cultural sensitivity. Moreover, to include tourists in this process, there is a mini course on its way specially created to make tourists mindful of possible sensitivities at the places and communities they visit.www.learn-cultural-tourism.com

 

 

Paths to cultural sensitivity in tourism business

Text: Monika Lüthje

Cultural sensitivity is a new concept in tourism research and development. When ARCTISEN project started, we had a quite vague idea of what it means in both theory and practice. Now, as the project has been going on for almost three years, our understanding of it has increased a lot. We see that the idea of culturally sensitive tourism boils down to respect, recognition and reciprocity among tourism actors. To support tourism entrepreneurs in developing their businesses in a culturally sensitive way, we have created a roadmap for culturally sensitive tourism business.

The roadmap is based on videos we have made for the ARCTISEN online course on Cultural Sensitivity in Arctic Tourism. In the videos, tourism and cultural sector entrepreneurs and destination managers operating in Finnish and Swedish Lapland, Northern Norway and Greenland share their experiences and advises of doing tourism in culturally sensitive ways. Interestingly, although these entrepreneurs and managers are operating with different kinds of tourism services in different places, their ideas about culturally sensitive tourism practices seem very similar. This was the starting point for our roadmap which we ended up calling Paths to Cultural Sensitivity (link to the online course).

The map consists of two interrelated practices – the practice of cooperation and the practice of being real. In the map, they are depicted as two mountains linked to each other by a bridge to tell that you need some effort and time to reach their tops and they are connected to each other. As you can see in the map, you can choose alternative paths to reach the mountains – there are several ways to do tourism business in a culturally sensitive way. (And those in the map are only some of them.)

The central idea of the practice of cooperation is to plan the business activities together with the local people whose lives the tourism activities affect. The aim is to plan the activities so that they do not disturb the locals’ lives. In other words, the business is planned so that it fits the life of the local community. Another important aspect in the practice of cooperation is to plan the business so that it benefits as many locals as possible and corresponds their needs.

The practice of being real means that the entrepreneur and her or his employees do not fake or pretend to be something that they are not. They do not need to be traditional or stereotypical representatives of the local culture if that is not what they really are. It is enough to tell about one’s own life in the local place. Nothing more exotic is needed. The practice of being real includes also telling correct information of the place, of its history, culture and people. That may mean some reading and studying and – if the entrepreneur or the employees are not locals themselves – respectful cooperation with the locals. The best practice is that those tell tourists about a culture whose culture it is.

Importantly, the same practices came up also during the online benchmarking trips we did this spring to Norway, Finland, Sweden and Canada. That means that these practices are used more widely in the Arctic than only by the entrepreneurs and managers featuring in the online course videos.

For more tips, check out the map as well as our online course and benchmark take-aways!

Greetings from the Canadian ARCTISEN Webinar!

Text: Chris E. Hurst

One of the key activities in the ARCTISEN project, are benchmarking events to bring together different tourism stakeholders, community representatives, entrepreneurs, scholars, students, and government representatives across the Arctic region. The first benchmarking trip took place -person in Greenland in December 2019. The challenges of COVID-19 shifted the rest of the benchmarks to an online format, with the first online benchmarking trip taking place in Norway at the end of April. This was followed by a benchmarking virtual bus tour through Finnish Lapland on May 18, and a visit to tourism businesses in Sweden on June 3.

One June 9, 2021, Canada hosted the Canadian benchmarking webinar, with the theme Experiences of Culturally Sensitive Tourism in the Canadian Arctic.

 

We were joined by tourism stakeholders in 7 countries!

 

Orienting hearts and minds

 

Sharing experiences of cultural sensitivity in tourism

 

→ Visit the Department’s webpage.

 

→ Visit Long Ago People´s Place webpage.

 

→ Visit Tundra North Tours webpage.

→ See the video from Kylik that was showed on webinar

 

 

Indigenous ecotourism futures in Canada

 

 

 

Key Messages and Takeaways

Online benchmark trip to Sweden – On the way to a cross-border tourism label

Text: Håkan Appelblad, Kjell-Åke Arensson & Randy Bruin

Videos: Visit Umeå, Swedish Lapland & Thomas Åberg

One of the main activities in the ARCTISEN project, are the benchmarking events that bring together different kinds of tourism actors across the Arctic. The first benchmarking trip took place in Greenland in December 2019 and at the end of April we joined the first online benchmarking trip, which presented tourism companies in Norway. The next month we continued our benchmarking journey in Finnish Lapland. On the 3rd of June, it was time for an online trip to Sweden. We welcome you to enjoy the shared stories, thoughts and (future) ideas we brought home with us from this digital journey.

In his words of welcome, Håkan Appelblad, researcher at the Department of Geography at the Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden, introduced the benchmark participants to Arctic Sweden. The theme of the afternoon ”Sharing knowledge as part of an innovative business-model to deal with culturally sensitive issues”. As a true geographer, Håkan presented the important tourism destinations via Google Earth, where amongst the three companies that presented their business-models during the webinar.

Image: Snapshot of Håkan Appelblad during the benchmark

Another (literally) warm welcome followed from Kjell-Åke Arensson , researcher at Ájtte museum – mountain and Sámi museum in Jokkmokk, Sweden, from a tropical and sunny Jokkmokk (28 degrees). After, Dieter Müller, professor in Human Geography at the Umeå University, was invited and described tourism development in Sweden through the years. He pointed out the so-called “Artification” of tourism and emphasized on the importance of reflection with different stakeholders about what has changed and how to move on. On to the three tourism companies based in Arctic Sweden.

 

The importance of living sustainably

Granö Beckasin

After a video of the tourism company, Granö Beckasin, Annika Rydman explained how the business came to life based on the premises of Pay respect & Eco Premium, where respect refers to respecting nature, animals and local people and Eco Premium is actually translated as sustainability. Furthermore, Annika described that when you decide to go Eco Premium: you need to live it in everything. And so they do: through inviting both tourists ánd local people on excursions. Also, they believe in presenting “real” stories, and so they invite Sámi people to explain their culture. Their persistence in building sustainably has paid off: Granö Beckasin owns an eco-hotel, tree-houses, birds’ nests and cabins and most of the houses are built with recyclable materials.

Annika ends with “Why has it always been important to us to be sustainable and include local people? Because, you learn from time to time that nature gives and takes, and we have to be fair: you cannot take more than you give.” Therefore, Granö Beckasin loves to be sustainable.

Image: Snapshot of Annika Rydman during the benchmark

Geunja The Sámi Ecolodge

Through a sphere full video, the participants got a taste of Geunja The Sámi Ecolodge. Ann-Kristine Vinka, owner of the tourism company together with Mikael Vinka, further explained the mindset of Geunja that is all about nature and culture conservation. In leaving a legacy for the future, Ann-Kristine and Mikael hope to enrich and embrace their guests with the warmth of their family and Sámi culture. During their stay, guests are part of daily life and help chopping wood, getting water, making food, moreover they are part of the family. The company is awarded with the WWF Arctic Award, Grand Travel Award and certified with the Nature’s Best label (Eco tourism certification) which means they practice small-scale tourism: 12 groups a year, 12 guests each time.

Ann-Kristine ends with welcoming the participants to share their lifestyle.

Image: Snapshot of Ann-Kristine Vinka during the benchmark

Peace & Quiet Hotel – Njannja Adventure

Björn Hedlund-Länta’s tourism company is introduced in a peaceful video, showing a calm and quiet floating igloo hotel. Björn starts with explaining that Jokkmokk is known as a Sámi destination with institutions such as the Ájtte museum. Björn used to be a military mountain guide in the Swedish army and taught others how to operate and work in similar climates, which for many soldiers “tough guys” appeared to be a very intense experience. Björn thought of what to do with his knowledge and decided to start a tourism company, which he recently re-named to “Peace & quiet hotel”. He believes that the hotel can offer guests a feeling of tranquillity and combines it with local experiences nearby, such as reindeer experiences, and local food tastings.

Image: Snapshot of Björn Hedlund-Länta during the benchmark

 

Thoughts and future ideas – How to move on?

During an interesting discussion in the digital common room, the following inspiring thoughts and ideas were shared. As illustrated with the examples below, participants offered various advocacies for a cross-border tourism label.

 

 

Virtual benchmarking trip in Finnish Lapland

Text: Suvi Autio, Elisa Hartikainen, Emily Höckert & Monika Lüthje 

Videos: Mauri Lähdesmäki , Fount Films

One of the main activities in the ARCTISEN project, are the benchmarking events that bring together different kinds of tourism actors across the Arctic. The first benchmarking trip took place in Greenland in December 2019 and at the end of April we joined the first online benchmarking trip, which presented tourism companies in Norway. 18 May it was time for benchmarking journey in the Finnish Lapland. In the following, we welcome you to enjoy the atmosphere and new ideas from our online bus-trip. After describing our journey, we will share some of the most inspiring takeaways and souvenirs.   

 

Tour guide: Suvi Autio 

Hello everyone and welcome to our Arctisen Finnish online benchmark trip. Glad to see so many of you here!  As many of you know, originally we were supposed to have physical  benchmarking trips, but then corona complicate the plans and instead we have created these online benchmarking events.

Let’s go quickly through the travel itinerary of our trip. Here you can see the timetable. We will start by gathering in groups so you can get to know some of your travelling companions. We will then head towards Hetta, where we are welcomed by Tiina at Hotel  Hetan  Majatalo.

The program included visits in five different companies in Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki and discussions in three break-out sessions.

 

First stop: Hotel Hetan Majatalo

Virtual benchmarking trip in Hotel Hetan Majatalo

More information about family Hotel in Hetta, Finland

 

Second stop: Näkkälä Adventures

Virtual benchmarking trip with Näkkälä Adventures

More information about Näkkälä Adventures in Enontekiö, Finland

 

Third stop: SoundByNature

Virtual benchmarking experience with Sanni Orasmaa

More information about SoundByNature

 

Short visits along the way

 

Fourth stop: Sámi Duodji

Welcome to visit Sámi Duodji Shop and handicraft workshop in Sajos, Inari 

More information about Sámi Duodji association in Finland

 

Fifth stop: Holiday Village Valle

Virtual benchmarking visit in Holiday Village Valle, in Utsjoki

More information about Holiday Village Valle 

 

Tour Guide: Suvi Autio

We are now approaching Rovaniemi. I hope you enjoyed this benchmarking trip with us.

Remember that the benchmarking trip in Sweden will be organised 3 June 2021.

From behalf of Arctisen I wish you all a pleasant rest of the day. Please make sure that you don´t forget any of your belongings in the buss.

Some happy bus travelers caught in a group photo.

 

 

Greetings from virtual benchmark visit in Norway

Text: Randy Bruin, Emily Höckert & Camilla Brattland

Videos: Trond Anton Andersen

One of the main activities in the ARCTISEN project, are the benchmarking events that bring together different kinds of tourism actors across the Arctic. The first benchmarking trip took place in Greenland (read more here and here) in December 2019. This trip was a success in many ways and lead to new inspiration and practical ideas for developing culturally sensitive tourism products.

While the ARCTISEN-team was in the middle of planning the forthcoming trips to Canada, Finland, Norway and Sweden the pandemic forced us to change our plans. Instead of encountering local tourism companies in situ, it became timely to envision virtual ways of visiting each other. As a result, the online benchmarking events are now taking place between April and June, 2021. Just like after the benchmarking trip in Greenland, we want to share ideas, inspiration and other souvenirs from these new gatherings as well.

Cultures and entrepreneurs on the move

The online benchmark series started April 26, broadcasted from Northern Norway with the theme: Representing culture: Moving away from stereotypes. This digital study trip was attended by nearly 40 participants from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Sweden and Norway.

The event brought together participants in Johtit and ARCTISEN projects. In her words of welcome, Hilde Bjørkli, director of the regional destination management organization in northern Norway, Nordnorsk Reiseliv (NNR), provided a summary of the Johtit project.

The Northern Sámi word, johttit, means travelling, moving, or on the move. The symbolic meaning in a tourism specific context implies that both tourism and tourism entrepreneurs are dynamic. Hilde described that Sámi tourism in the North is characterised by change. While tourists were before mainly passive observers, today the guests are invited to engage in interactive forms of learning. This means that tourism entrepreneurs have become active disseminators of culture and nature. The Johtit project is a network of 16 Sámi-owned businesses, which all have their own ways of using the rich and multi-faceted Sámi culture in tourism products and services.

The floor was then given to Arvid Viken, emeritus professor at the Department of Tourism and Northern Studies, the Arctic University of Norway (UiT). His talk reminded of the lamentable legacy of stereotyping, appropriation and assimilation in Indigenous tourism in the Arctic. Arvid discussed how the ARCTISEN project has been searching for a culturally sensitive orientation toward others and otherness; that is, an orientation based on recognition, respect and reciprocity. What is more, the notion of cultural sensitivity can help us to move away from stereotypes, by focusing on the dynamic nature of cultures.

Gathering by Min Ája

The next stop in our benchmarking trip was a Sámi basecamp Min Ája in Finnmark, Northern Norway, ran by Silje Halonen and Ronny Antonsen. They welcomed us all to visit their company through this video.

Image: Benchmarkers were virtually invited to Karasjok-camping with Randy Bruin and Silje Halonen

In a follow up conversation with Silje Halonen, she explained that the business had been running for 10 years, without being promoted as a Sámi business. In her words, she had earlier not felt ‘Sámi enough’ as she is not used to joik or to have reindeer. Nevertheless, being partner of Johtit network had been an eye-opener considering the ways in which she values her own Sámi identity. Her personal journey – accompanied by the other companies in and outside Norway – helped Silje to understand how Indigenous cultures can be used in tourism in various ways. As a result, Karasjok Camping was recently re-named as Min Ája; that is, with a Sámi name that translates as Our Source. Silje described how she today feels confident to talk about her culture and to offer tourism products and services with their own Sámi profile.

From the campsite, we moved on to the first break-out session. This gave us a chance to discuss valuable tourism experiences and our understanding of cultural sensitivity in smaller groups. We were all positively surprised how smoothly the smaller gatherings could be organised virtually. Moreover, these talks sparked interest to continue the discussions with the people we had met in our groups. The takeaways and souvenirs from these group discussions are presented at the end of this article.

Invitation to Inga Sámi Siida 

The next video welcomed us to visit Inga Sámi Siida, a company located on Hinnøya island, Vesterålen, where Laila Inga’s family has lived for over 100 years.

Image: A snapshot of a laughing Laila Inga taken from the video

After watching a video about Inga Sámi Siida, Hilde invited Laila Inga for a conversation. Besides being a reindeer herder family, Inga Sámi Siida started in 2009 as tourism company. After multiple requests of people close by who wanted to ‘take a look’ at their place where the Inga family helped reindeers to survive during winter hardship, Laila felt the urge to share this experience with others as well. In the first years, the Inga family tried out different seasons and set-ups to sell their experiences. Laila’s brilliant skills as a storyteller, which Hilde also mentioned, are valuable when Laila shares her knowledge about reindeer and the lessons, we can learn from them. Today also other Sámi families reach out to Laila for advice on Sámi food preparation, how to prepare the reindeer skin and other cultural aspects.

Towards more colorful and nuanced images of the Arctic

Towards the end of the benchmarking trip, Camilla Brattland from UiT hosted the second break-out-sessions, which revealed some new, important aspects of stereotypes within tourism.

These discussions drew attention to the dynamic nature of indigenous arts. For instance, Kristoffer Dolmen from Sámi Dáiddaguovddáš – Sámi Centre of Contemporary Art, pointed out how guests might have strong pre-assumptions and expectations what Sámi art is supposed to be like – read: something traditional or historical. However, in Kristoffer’s view, Sámi art is simply something that is made and designed by a Sámi artist. While Sami centres or museums often display more stereotypical, traditional cultural elements, contemporary Sami museums create new spaces for modern art. In a similar vein, Nini Brandt from Greenland Outdoors argued that the Greenlandic art is in constant change. While some might think that a certain object ‘is not Greenlandic art’, it is a piece of mind from Greenlandic person who made it, and hence also Greenland’. Through art expositions and different ways of storytelling, guests can reflect their expectations and learn about the ongoing cultural change.

“We can make a more colorful picture of people and nature”

Nini Brandt, Greenland Outdoors

 

 

More presentations of Northern Norwegian tourism companies:

 

 

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