Kaffemik in Nuuk

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!

Souvenirs from Sisimiut

Text: Emily Höckert & Monika Lüthje
Film: Louise Romain
Photos: Outi Kugapi

Few months ago, a group of ARCTISEN members visited Greenland for the first benchmarking trip. While we – Emily and Monika – were not able to join the trip, we have been eager to know what happened during this very special gathering.

  • What kind of thoughts they had given as gifts to their Greenlandic hosts?
  • What kind of ideas and inspiration were born in those encounters?
  • What kind of inspiration people brought with them as souvenirs?

The main idea of the benchmarking trip was to enable different kinds of tourism actors to share experiences, test new ideas and to learn from each other. This time the benchmarking trip was hosted by Greenlandic tourism experts, while tourism actors from Norway, Sweden and Finland got to take the role of a guest. This short text is based on the stories that these guests have shared with us after the trip. Moreover, the pictures and videos have given us a good chance to experience the trip from distance.

Sisimiut is 40 km north of the Arctic Circle. The name means “the people living in a place wherethere are fox dens". Sisimiut was founded in 1756 and has approximately 5,600 residents. It is 
the second largest town in Greenland.

The town is an important cruise destination for both expedition vessels and medium sized cruise ships, linking Nuuk and Kangerlussuaq with the Disko Bay area and Ilulissat further north.

On the very first day, the ARCTISEN group had experienced a warm welcome in Sisimiut by Greenlandic tourism entrepreneurs. The opening activities had focused on storytelling led by Hilde Bjørkli’s (Northern Norway Tourism Board) inspiring speech, accompanied then by stories from Norwegian tourism companies. Hilde’s message to all tourism entrepreneurs from the Arctic had been important and empowering. She argued that tourism entrepreneurs should tell their own story, underlining how ‘Your story is enough!’. What an excellent and powerful guideline for culturally sensitive tourism!

The second day of benchmark had consisted a wide range of activities from product and service development, exchange of ideas, souvenir shopping, music and hiking. According to many of the participants, the most affecting experience had been a soul-massaging workshop with Sanni from SoundByNature. In a small snowstorm just outside of Sisimiut, Sanni had taught and shown how to breath in and breath out in the middle of the hectic world. A valuable gift that many had brought home from this trip.


The third day in Sisimiut had focused on community guidelines with Jesper Schrøder from Arctic Circle Business. The residents of Sisimiut have co-created guidelines for tourists who visit their home town. Many participants of the benchmarking trip had experienced that this was something that could and should be done in other destinations as well. You can find more information about the AECO community guidelines here.

During the first days in Sisimiut, tourism entrepreneurs from Norway, Sweden and Finland had been discussing how important and eye-opening it was to be a guest in someone’s home village or home town. What does it mean to be a tourist and an outsider in places where local hosts live their everyday lives? Isn’t it often the mundane details of the local culture that fascinate the outsiders?

We will continue with these reflections in our next blog text from Nuuk.

Story from Associated partner: Arctic Circle Business

Second blog post from our associated partner from Greenland, Arctic Circle business. Enjoy!


Arctic Circle Business, partner in Arctisen – is a regional local business association with 66 businesses, located in Sisimiut, Greenland.  The business council, which has 4 employees is aiming to ensure that our region is developing. Besides the function as a local business council we are happy to be the Destination Management Organization (DMO) for “Destination Arctic Circle”.

We are promoting business development, supporting entrepreneurs in their startup process – last year we had around 55 entrepreneurs coming to get guidance and support.

Tourism is developing – in that we have a job making sure that our local communities gain from tourism – economically and socially. We have launched a Tourism strategy – in Destination Arctic Circle to make new adventure experiences – and to attract more tourists. In the strategy we come around how we can use our cultural heritage as captivating stories we can tell the tourists. In doing so we need partnerships and inspiration from something like the Arctisen project. In the strategy and our daily work, we tend to focus a lot on capacity building. The past 2 years we have taken initiative to offer our entrepreneurs courses that are related to make new experiences available for tourists. That includes training for local guides, storytelling for artists, language training, general courses about tourism, advertising and not least courses about finances and business planning tools.

We promote our Destination as the Adventure Destination in Greenland, in which dogsledding, northern lights, ice and snow, hiking, trophy hunting, fly fishing and whale watching are key points of experiences.

Whilst promoting economic growth we also care about educating children – in the mindset of having their own business by using our cultural heritage. If we succeed in that we will have more people in the future workforce to carry out the Tourism Strategy and hopefully represent the modern Greenland which has much to offer in sustainable adventure experiences.

Read more information from Destination Arctic Circle website.

Check also the beautiful Sisiumiut Community Specific Guidelines here. It is something to learn from!

Sisimiut 2018 Community Specific Guidelines

Hei from Finnish Lapland, Enontekiö and familyhotel Hetan Majatalo!


We are proud to start publishing posts from our associated partners, who are really important part of this project. First one comes from Finland, from Enontekiö, and Tiina will participate to our first benchmark-journey to Greenland later this year. Enjoy!


Mother and daughter – the entrepreneurs

I am Tiina Vuontisjärvi, the fourth generation at Hotel Hetan Majatalo. Enontekiö is a wide and sparcely populated municipality in north-west of Finland (about 8400 km2 and 1850 inhabitants) and we live in the main village Enontekiö / Hetta. Behind our hotel it is just tundra until the costal of Norway.

My great grandparents started the accommodation business 95 years ago in 1924. At that time they also had a grocery store, bank and post offices, gas station, telephone center – this was the centre of our village.

Grocery store of Majatalo

In the Second World War / Lappish War almost all the houses were burnt down, also ours. After that my grandparents took the business over and started to re-build everything back to the same place. They built among others the guesthouse for tourists and travelers. At the end of 1980’s my parents wanted to build again and expand the business so they built a hotel which they expanded in 2000. Soon after that my father died and I came back from studying to my home village to help my mother.


1st and 2nd generation

2nd and 3rd generation in a TV show

Majatalo before the War

Majatalo during summer

For all these decades Majatalo’s main things have been friendliness, personal service, hospitality and continuity of the family’s way of life.

Since my childhood I have been serving Majatalo’s guests and since 2008 the main owner of the hotel, beside my mother. My husband is also part of our business = way of life, luckily. I am 36 years old (having my 37th birthday in Greenland) and my family consists of my dear husband Petri and mother Tuula + all the relatives, god children and friends.

Tiina, father and tourist

Tiina, parents and grandparents – 3 generations


I love to live in Lapland and Enontekiö and I love to continue the work after Majatalo’s previous generations. I am really honoured that I have learnt so much from my grandparents and my parents and am thankful that they have made all their work so well so I can continue in a well-known and successful family company. I respect and cherish the old history and many stories of Majatalo and Enontekiö a lot. My grandfather was a great story teller and I am so happy we have all his stories in written and read by him. During the three decades among other interesting things I have made thousands of pancakes in the wilderness for our guests, guided many groups and read lots of my grandfather’s stories to travelers.

Tiina making pancakes for tourists

Tiina in Hetta Huskies with self-made handicrafts

I love to make handicrafts, especially Lappish ones, stay outside, go to the nature / wilderness by walking, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, quad biking. I would like to do more berry and mushroom (still learning!) picking and fishing both summer and winter but of course the hotel takes a lot of my time. I also love to travel, as often as possible. I love the sun and warm places but I also like winter a lot and I appreciate that in Enontekiö we have eight seasons instead of four. I love to spend time with family and friends and enjoy of good food in restaurants or made by my man. This summer my husband taught me to drive my own motorbike.

I am really excited to go to this benchmarking trip to Greenland and I am so happy that we were chosen to the project. I am sure we all countries have many similarities and I can learn a lot and get many ideas to both Lapland and our familyhotel. I can not wait to meet other participants of this project.

As a hotel we only offer accommodation and meals. We are working closely with the locals and local entrepreneurs like Näkkälä Safaris / Samuli and Taina who are also participating the project. We want that our tourists and travelers can feel the authenticity and genuineness of our area and company and we prefer to have guests who have the same values than us. We would like that they could experience as local experiences and adventures as possible, as sustainably and responsible way as possible, with respect towards our nature, culture and local life. Experiencing the real life and real people is important for the future guests of our area, hopefully.

I wish you a great rest of the autumn / beginning of winter and can not wait to meet you in person!

Ystävällisin terveisin,
With kindest regards,

Tiina Vuontisjärvi
Majatalon 4. polvi, 4th generation at Majatalo

Arctic Tourism and Cultural Sensitivity in Canada

Chris E. Hurst, PhD student, University of Waterloo

Relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada are complex and vary significantly across different parts of the country. The overarching legacy, however, is one of colonialism, attempts to force the assimilation of Indigenous cultures, and consistent displacement of Indigenous peoples from traditional lands. The impacts of these practices continue to be experienced by Indigenous communities. Recent efforts in Canada have been made to recognize this legacy, promote healing, and build and maintain relationships with Indigenous peoples. These include several commissions of inquiry, formal apologies, and reconciliatory initiatives at the local, provincial/ territorial and federal levels of government. The intended aims of these initiatives are linked to improving relationships between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous (including state representatives) living in Canada. Tourism has the potential to foster or thwart these efforts, especially in the northern territories of the Canadian Arctic.

Canada’s northern territories—Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut—account for 40% of the country’s landmass (NRCAN, 2017). More than 111,000 people live in the Canadian territories; over half of which identify as Indigenous (Statistics Canada, 2019). In recent years, the Canadian Territories have seen an increased demand for Indigenous tourism products and experiences; highlighting the need to examine how sensitivity is understood and applied in Canadian contexts, with specific consideration for Arctic settings.

Our team of researchers, Dr. Bryan Grimwood (Associate Professor), Chris Hurst (PhD student), and Michela Stinson (MA student) from the University of Waterloo, as well as Dr. Harvey Lemelin (Professor) at Lakehead University joined the ARCTISEN project to better understand the significance of cultural sensitivity to Arctic tourism in Canada and to identify opportunities to improve sensitivity domestically and within international tourism networks.

Chris E. Hurst speaking about Canadian literature review

A recent presentation at the 26th annual Graduate Student Leisure Research Symposium at the University of Waterloo, highlighted preliminary findings of a systematic literature review carried out to understand cultural sensitivity in Canadian and academic contexts. The results described what the literature says about how cultural sensitivity should look and what cultural sensitivity should encompass. This includes interrelated concepts and themes such as respect, trust, ethics, cultural identity, cultural exchange, self-determination, capacity building, and wellness.

Our current activities involve examining how existing domestic guidelines associated with cultural sensitivity are applied in the tourism industry, focusing on tourism in the Northwest Territories (NWT); specifically, the city of Yellowknife and surrounding areas. Members of the research team are also preparing to travel to Yellowknife to engage tourism business and operators, tourists, Indigenous communities, and government officials in exploring possible partnerships for future research and building connections with activities of ARCTISEN project partners and associated partners.

Ice palace in Yellowknife


Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN). (2017). The North. Retrieved from https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography/atlas-canada/selected-thematic-maps/16886

Statistics Canada. (2019). Aboriginal Peoples Highlight Tables, 2016 Census. Retrieved from https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/hlt-fst/abo-aut/Table.cfm?Lang=Eng&T=101&S=99&O=A

Greetings from Jokkmokk

Elina Nygård

Jokkmokk, just north of the Arctic Circle, has always been an obvious meeting place for trade, gatherings, festivals and meetings between friends. This is the site of Ájtte, Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum, a gateway to the high mountains, to Laponia world heritage area and to the Sami culture. We tell the story of Sápmi, the land and the people, of life and survival in a demanding climate and environment. It is a story set in the wetlands, forests and mountains.

Entrance to Ájtte, Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum
Photo: Tenneh Kjellsson

Sápmi, the land of the Sami – extends without bounds across the territory of four nations. Here, we have hunted and fished for thousands of years, we have wandered endless paths and given names to mountaintops and streams. We have raised our children, sung praises of the land and appeased the gods for good hunting. We have followed the reindeer, driven our herds to better grazing and watched over the new-borns.


The museum’s Laponia exhibit, about Lapland´s world heritage area, gives an insight into its cultural and natural significance for all of humanity.

The museum opened in 1989 and this summer we celebrate our 30 year anniversary. During these years thousands of people have visited us; last year we had almost 50 000 visitors. We are happy to tell our history and our visitors enjoy becoming a part of it. People want to learn and try to figure out how to behave when leaving the museum and heading out in the nature surrounding us. Our culture is built upon the nature, and we want to save it for the following generations. That is why we find the Arctisen project so important.


Tourism, nature and culture in Greenland – telling and selling a story of many ties

Carina Ren

Nature is interweaved into the Greenlandic society in ways that are often characteristic of indigenous cultures. As tourism is gaining increasing attention and traction in Greenland, the question is how tourism actors can innovate and narrate tourism products and experiences in new ways to reflect the entanglements of humans, culture and nature.

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Visit Greenland, the public organization responsible for marketing tourism to Greenland, already acknowledges the inseparable bonds between nature and people. They describe their brand ‘Pioneering Nation’ as the “core story of Greenland (…) about the relationship between nature and people. The key concepts in the nation brand are ‘Powerful & Pioneering’ – nature’s might and man’s pioneering spirit and the relationship between the two” (Visit Greenland, 2014).

Still, while destination offers in Greenland have understandably been shaped by the nations’ unique nature attractions, such as the UNESCO-listed ice fjord in Ilulissat, there are far less tourism products and services, which more explicitly incorporate Greenlandic culture. According to many of the stakeholders already consulted as part of the first ARCTISEN activities, more work is needed in developing and narrating tourism experiences acknowledging the dynamic relationship between nature and culture.

Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Both tradition and modernity is reflected in the communities and everyday lives of Greenlanders, often surprising some visitors. As argued by many tourism stakeholders, striking a good balance between ‘old and new’ and making the dynamic expressions of Greenlandic culture more prominent in the tourism product, is crucial. So is, many argue, communicating it to tourists coming from afar and often with little knowledge of Inuit culture and contemporary, everyday life in Greenland.

As part of the Centre for Innovation and Research in Culture and Living in the Arctic (CIRCLA) at Aalborg University, associate professor Carina Ren and postdoc Mette Abildgaard will work on digital capacity building with a focus on these perceived needs for more culturally sensitive tourism. Together with local partners, the Arctic Circle Business in Sisimiut and the Sermersooq Business Council in Nuuk and their network of Greenlandic tourism entrepreneurs and start-ups, they will be working on this task in Greenland for the next two years.

During that time, Sami and Greenlandic tourism actors will also gain inspiration and knowledge, share stories and strengthen relations in the common work of building knowledge and collaboration in culturally sensitive tourism. This will happen through the development of online courses and digital learning material based on both pan-Arctic and local case, experiences, learnings.

Some notes on Sami tourism in Sweden

Dieter K. Müller

For a long time tourism in northern Sweden has centered around outdoor experiences and wilderness, at least when looking at travel brochures and other promotional materials. However, already early travelers in the North reported about their encounters with local population and not least the Sami, too. The Sami were portrayed in exotic terms and provided guiding and transportation.

In a Sami kåta in Ammarnäs (Photo: Dieter K. Müller)

Of course, a lot has changed since these early days, but still today, Sami and reindeer herding are important ingredients in the touristic supplies of the Swedish North. As many destination representatives confirm, the supply of Sami tourism products does not correspond to a much larger demand. This is despite various initiatives by Sámiid Riikkasearvi, the Swedish Reindeer Herders’ Union SSR, and the Swedish Sami parliament aiming at profiling tourism as a Sami industry. For example, about 10 years ago SSR launched Visit Sapmi, an indigenous destination management organization, in order to strengthen Sami tourism. In this context, the organization developed a quality label signifying high-quality Sami tourism products but also pointing out original Sami experiences for the benefit of tourists. Economically the initiative turned out to be not viable when financial support from regional policy funds discontinued. Hence, the number of Sami tourism companies in Sweden has stagnated for many years and the expected take-off never took place. However, even today there are hopes that tourism can become an important Sami enterprise, as for example a new OECD-report indicates. An increasing international touristic interest in northern Sweden creates preconditions for this, but brings along also risks for conflict and cultural misunderstanding when growing amounts of poorly prepared tourists meet a reindeer herding culture contested by climate change and land use competition.

How Sami tourism has developed and how tourism fits into Sami livelihood strategies have been important topics of tourism research at the Department of Geography, Umeå University, for the last 20 years. The ARCTISEN project provides a welcomed opportunity to develop this research further and continue a comparative approach on tourism and indigeneity in the Arctic. Hence, we see forward to this project and the opportunity to learn together about how to develop Arctic tourism with respect for its environment and people.



Leu, T.C. (2018). Tourism Work among Sámi Indigenous People: Exploring its Prevalence and Role in Sparsely Populated Areas of Sweden. PhD-thesis. Umeå: Department of Geography and Economic History.

OECD (2019), Linking the Indigenous Sami People with Regional Development in Sweden, OECD Rural Policy Reviews, OECD Publishing, Paris. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264310544-en

Viken, A. & Müller, D.K. (Eds.) (2017). Tourism and Indigeneity in the Arctic. Bristol: Channel View.

Survey for travellers in the Arctic

Have you recently travelled somewhere in the Arctic? We in ARCTISEN team are keen to learn about your experiences.

Link to the survey: forms.gle/dLTWpLvecTFKWSx18

The purpose of this visitor survey is to collect information about tourism development in the Arctic region. The data will be used for dialogues with small and medium-sized enterprises and for scholarly publications. We will not gather any of your personal data, only demographic information to help us analysing the data. All the data will be processed confidentially and in accordance with data protection legislation (the General Data Protection Regulation and Personal Data Act).

It takes between 5-10 minutes to answer to the survey. Many thanks for your help!

If you have any questions, please contact the Project manager Outi Kugapi, outi.kugapi(a)ulapland.fi and Professor Kjell Olsen, kjell.o.olsen(a)uit.no.




Arctisen and WINTA

There is no other global tourism organisation like WINTA in the World

Johnny Edmonds

WINTA World Indigenous Tourism Alliance

WINTA views the Arctisen project as a positive opportunity to explore European perceptions of the concept of cultural sensitivity to guide the forward development of culturally sensitive tourism in the Arctic.

WINTA was borne out of the global, collective aspirations of Indigenous interests in tourism and is an Indigenous led initiative that aspires to give practical effect to key articles under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 (UNDRIP) in tourism. The establishment of WINTA in 2012 coincided with the Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference in Darwin Australia and the promulgation of the Larrakia Declaration by international tourism industry stakeholders at that conference.

The Larrakia Declaration was subsequently adopted by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and endorsed by the UNWTO in 2012.

In promoting the rights of Indigenous communities, the principles articulated in the Larrakia Declaration encourage tourism developments where:

  • Tourism decisions will be underpinned by respect for customary law and lore, land and water, traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and cultural heritage
  • Tourism industry stakeholders have a duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous peoples before undertaking decisions on public policy and programs designed to foster the development of Indigenous tourism
  • Indigenous peoples will determine the extent and nature and organizational arrangements for their participation in tourism and that governments support the empowerment of Indigenous people
  • The tourism industry will respect Indigenous intellectual property rights, cultures and traditional practices, the need for sustainable and equitable business partnerships and the proper care of the environment and communities that support them
  • That equitable partnerships between the tourism industry and Indigenous people will include the sharing of cultural awareness and skills development which support the well- being of communities and enable enhancement of individual livelihoods
  • Indigenous culture and the land and waters on which it is based, will be protected and promoted through well managed tourism practices and appropriate interpretationThe Larrakia Declaration also recognised the launch of WINTA to facilitate, advocate and network with each affiliated Indigenous tourism body and with industry, governments and multilateral agencies.


WINTA Councillor Lennart Pittja (Sweden) and WINTA Director Johnny Edmonds

Today, WINTA operates as a not for profit organisation formally constituted under NZ legislation with a Leadership Council comprised of Indigenous tourism leaders from Australia, Canada, Nepal, NZ, Sweden and the USA. WINTA has developed tools to facilitate practical implementation of tourism developments consistent with the Larrakia Declaration and UNDRIP; provides specialist advisory services on Indigenous rights-based tourism; and has developed a global network of stakeholders which currently extends to 66 countries.

From WINTA’s perspective, the Arctisen project is a splendid opportunity to consult a range of tourism industry stakeholders in the Arctic, in order to develop the concept of cultural sensitivity for practical implementation in the Arctic.