Authenticity as a compromise: why labels can be very important

Text and photos: Cecilia de Bernardi


Since I started my work with Sámi tourism, initially I focused on analysing language, marketing, and specifically how culture is portrayed in pictures. The reason why I started with this is that marketing communication is an important aspect of the process of attracting tourists to a certain place. A website, a brochure or a picture on Instagram can affect the tourists’ expectations of a destination they want to visit.

If the tourists are presented with an exotic and historical version of Sámi culture(s), this is what they will most likely expect when they arrive at the destination. This can make it hard for Sámi tourism entrepreneurs to deliver experiences that are based on contemporary Sámi life, while also making sure that the tourists go home satisfied with their trip. This is one side of the coin, other aspects that I learned about while talking to entrepreneurs are the fact that tourists often do not know about the Sámi when they arrive and that they are eager to learn more and are most often respectful. My interviews with the entrepreneurs were the basis for the national baseline report on cultural sensitivity of Sweden for ARCTISEN and for my doctoral dissertation as well.

A view from the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi


Kiruna Church

Another aspect that became apparent during the interviews I conducted, is the different views from the Sámi entrepreneurs on what is regarded as authentic, while it was also clear for them what is not authentic. These findings and my studies of marketing communication are what has driven me to understand authenticity as a compromise. There are different and equally important views on authenticity, while, on the other hand, different views on authenticity have something in common. Due to the fact that there are so many ways in which Sámi culture(s) can be exploited in tourism, in order to protect Sámi culture(s) from unethical use in tourism, labels should be used to promote the aspects of Sámi culture(s) that are shared as well as the differences. An example of a label is the Sápmi Experience in Sweden, which hopefully can be an inspiration for other future labelling schemes. Nowadays with social media and other means of communication, it will be possible to spread information on such a label and gradually educate the tourists on more conscious choices. A label can help to support Sámi tourism enterprises, while also while also protecting the environment. This is another important part of being a Sámi tourism entrepreneur, which is to protect the nature that is so intertwined with culture. A tourism label can also support such efforts and communicate them to the tourists.

Finally, during my research and the interviews, I learned of the importance of Sámi culture(s) for tourism entrepreneurs operating at the local level in northern Sweden, but who are not Sámi. All of the people I interviewed highlighted how important it is for them to not disturb the reindeer, to cooperate with Sámi companies to convey Sámi culture(s) and to make sure that Sámi-related tourism products are in the hands of Sámi entrepreneurs. This is important regarding how a label could help the operations of other companies working closely with Sámi tourism.

In conclusion, a label based on authenticity as a compromise is a way to:

  • Highlight commonalities as well as differences within Sámi culture(s)
  • Protect Sámi culture(s) from unethical use in tourism
  • Potentially protect the surrounding environment
  • Promote education and information to the tourists
  • Support other local companies that cooperate and respect Sámi culture


Cecilia de Bernardi

PhD candidate at the University of Lapland (FI) and Dalarna University (SE). Her doctoral defense will take place on August 28 at the University of Lapland.

Contact details:

Different Stories: Teaching Sámi Cultures in Tourism

Text and photos: Ella Björn

Why learn about Sámi cultures? Indigenous cultures are critical to our planet’s cultural diversity. Over the years in Finland, tourism entrepreneurs have spread stereotypical and inaccurate information about Sámi cultures. Although exploitation in tourism has decreased in recent times and Sámi people have started their own businesses, the need to teach the correct information about their cultures still exists.

Like other Indigenous cultures, Sámi cultures usually have a holistic worldview in which humans and nature are equal rather than separated. All forms of matter, including animals, are equal actors inhabiting this world. Humanity is not above them.

In her master’s thesis, Ella studied the socio-material practices of teaching Sámi cultures to tourists in Finnish Lapland.

This was a central focus of my master’s thesis; I studied the socio-material practices of teaching Sámi cultures to tourists in Finnish Lapland.

The concept of socio-materiality holds that the social and the material are strongly connected and tightly intertwined. Material elements, such as a table, enable the social activities around them, making the material social as well. The connection between humans and material can also be social in, for example, the making of handicrafts, which can build a relationship between the maker and the product.

Several ways of teaching Sámi cultures appeared in my research, and one was storytelling, a form in which material elements can also play a part. Storytelling is common in Sámi cultures, and stories carry significant meaning. They can help build individual and collective identities, are usually told by elders and are transferred from generation to generation. They highlight different values, worldviews, histories and attitudes, and they can also be funny. Stories also often represent or foretell change.

Stories can be told while making handicrafts, another important aspect of Sámi cultures. A convenient way of teaching and learning about these cultures is attending handicraft workshops and working with materials at the same time, as handicrafts can also carry information. A self-made or purchased handicraft carries a story and leaves tourists with long-lasting memories of Sámi cultures and their overall trip to Finland.

The bracelet I made in Julia Allemann’s Sámi handicraft workshop in Lauri House, Rovaniemi.

Apart from workshops, stories can often be told in nature, perhaps while walking from one place to another. In Sámi cultures, different natural places often have their own stories, and these are rarely written down; rather, they exist in the storyteller’s memory. Tellers learn the story by hearing them, and because they do so in nature, they incorporate their bodies and senses, such as touching, smelling, seeing and hearing. Once again, we see nature and different materials playing a big role in a learning process.

In sum, tourists who want to learn about Sámi cultures should be exposed to their stories, as they can:

  • enhance individual and collective identity,
  • enhance the connection with the nature when told in connection to natural places,
  • enhance the connection with material elements when told at the same time as one works on a handicraft,
  • make the experience memorable and therefore enhance learning, and
  • give voice to different actors.


Master’s thesis, in Finnish, can be found here: ”Kohti posthumanistista ymmärrystä – Saamelaiskulttuurien opettaminen sosiomateriaalisena käytäntönä”.

On responsible tourism marketing in Mid- and Northern Norway


Text: Lena Nøstdahl, Northern Norway Tourist Board


In a market of 1.4 billion international travellers seeking new dream destinations, we need to rethink tourism and make an overall plan for what we want tourism’s contribution to be. The Northern Norway Tourist Board (NNR) has a long-term strategy to help develop a sustainable year-round tourism industry. Our vision is to be a leader in experience-based value creation. Central to the strategy is an innovative segmentation tool based on travel motivation and personal desires instead of place of residence, age, income and so on. This enables us to navigate and make wise strategic decisions on which guests to prioritise so that we both create meaningful customer experiences and contribute actively to building greater local communities.

On the island Lånan, there is a long tradition of gathering eggs and down from the eider duck. From the down, exclusive duvets and pillows are made and sold to the luxury market. Lånan is in the World Heritage area Vegaøyan (the Vega Islands) in Vega municipality, Nordland. Vegaøyan was listed on UNESCO’s list of important world heritage sites in 2004. In the photo, Margit Nilsen Lande is at a stone house where a female bird lies and incubates her eggs. Photo credit: Visit Helgeland.

To be able to achieve this, we need to involve and engage the locals as well as relevant businesses inside and outside traditional tourism. We need to seek close collaboration with destination leaders and communities to create long-term benefits of tourism for both businesses and citizens and to break out of the tourism silo by inviting more people to contribute but also making them more accountable. We believe that responsible tourism will be a key competitive advantage in the near future.

This text offers first an overview of the content and values of the project Responsible Marketing and then examples of the first pilot cases.


Innovation project

The project period of Responsible Marketing is ongoing until 2021 and is funded by the County Council of Nordland and Trøndelag. We are in the early stages of this innovative project; nevertheless, we have gained some new insights that we want to share.

Responsible marketing is in many ways a change from marketing to management in practice. The marketing strategy has its origin in the overall strategy for the entire destination, which is rooted locally. This means working from local wants and needs in such a way that tourism becomes a tool for creating good communities and not a goal in itself.

In this project, we strive to find a working method involving tourism as an industry and marketers with tailor-made measures based on local strategies. We want to test a new approach to building a responsible marketing strategy using the bottom-up principle. Simply put, responsible marketing is all about accountability and taking responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions. Note that doing nothing is also an action.

Our biggest challenge is limiting ourselves since this topic is overreaching in so many ways. Therefore, we have defined a set of principles:

  • Developing a strategy for locating the right guest in the right place at the right time
  • Strategic planning from a holistic perspective and as an integral part of the business plan in the municipality
  • Ensuring that the values created locally are greater than those consumed
  • Close interaction between the local community’s values, wishes and plans and the marketing plans
  • Engaging and involving the local community
  • A system for inputs that respects all inputs and points to actual action
  • A bottom-up process
  • A continuous process rooted locally
  • Being accountable for one’s actions
  • Respecting local choices and values
  • Ensuring that the marketing communication reflects the actual experience



What does responsible marketing mean to us?

Responsible marketing is all about creating a strategy to locate the right guest in the right place at the right time so that the values created locally are greater than those consumed. This requires close interaction between the local community’s values and needs and the action points implemented. Therefore, responsible marketing is about much more than just marketing.

The aim of the project is to develop new working methods and to test how responsible marketing can contribute, as one of several tools, to creating positive local value creation in both tourism and local communities. We want to find new key performance indexes (KPIs) to be able to measure sustainable development and find ways to have ongoing dialogue to make sure that local choices and values are respected and considered.

The coast of Helgeland has more than 12,000 islands. The conditions for kayaking between the islands are excellent. Photo credit: Visit Helgeland.

The Vega Archipelago: A pilot

In 2004, the archipelago’s cultural landscape was inscribed on the UNESCO List of World Natural and Cultural Heritage as a representative of “the way generations of fishermen and farmers have, over the past 1,500 years, maintained a sustainable living in an inhospitable seascape near the Arctic Circle, based on the now unique practice of eiderdown harvesting”. The unique cultural landscape with a tradition of birds was the main reason for the Vega Islands gaining world heritage status in 2004. Vega was also one of the first to be certified in the Sustainable Travel Destinations brand and has already been through recertification. In addition, the municipality of Vega is now working on developing a new generation of tourism life plans. As part of this process, it has involved the locals in Vega in a discussion about what they want tourism to do for Vega and what they want tourism to be like in the future. This has provided a very good knowledge base on how the population wants tourism to contribute to the development of the local community. One of the key aspects of this project is to find out how marketing can help to create the sustainable tourism that the population wants in Vega.


Partnership and twin project

Trøndelag Reiseliv has developed its brand strategy with a model from Northern Norway and shares the vision of experience-based and sustainable tourism development. This provides a good starting point for collaborating. Participating as a pilot is Inderøy. Inderøy is the home of The Golden Road, a tourist route passing through beautiful scenery in the Municipality of Inderøy. Participants along the route offer food, art and cultural experiences, taking both tradition and innovation into consideration. Inderøy is also certified as a Sustainable Travel Destination and has started the process of involving members of the local community by asking them what they want from tourism, what kind of tourism they want for the future and who are the right customers, when and where.

Working with two different pilots is most inspiring. It gives the project different perspectives and a broader experience base. We will be able to conduct tests in different environments, learn from each other and share some of the same tools and resources.

Working group for the project. Photo credit: Lena Nøstdahl/Visit Northern Norway.


National Reports on Cultural Sensitivity


Little more than one year ago, members of our ARCTISEN team were travelling across the Arctic conducting interviews among start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), local destination management organisations (DMO) and other tourism actors. All together 13 interviews were conducted in Greenland, 23 in Norway, 18 in Sweden and 44 in Finland, while Canada’s research focused on existing guidelines on cultural sensitivity.

The interviews included questions about business environments, product development and needs for capacity building. These discussions formed an important part of the project’s Work Package 1 – ‘Baseline studies on cultural sensitivity’, led by the Arctic University of Norway. Together with desk-studies, the interviews enabled us to form a picture of the visions and needs across the project area and to create the  road-map for future project activities, such as, benchmarking trips, workshops and educational materials.



An overreaching summary of  these studies was published at the end on the year 2019 with title Looking at Arctic tourism through the lens of cultural sensitivity: ARCTISEN – A Transnational Baseline Report. The report offers cross-national com­parisons to understand the multiple ways of drawing on place-based cultural resourc­es in Arctic tourism. It also seeks to answer to the question of ‘What does cultural sensitivity mean?’ or ‘In which ways can Indigenous peoples and other local communi­ties utilize their cultural heritage and contemporary life in creating successful tourism products and services


Today we are happy to launch five, more detailed, national reports on culturally sensitive tourism! All these reports can be found through our website or by following this link.  We believe that the reports can provide new insights, support and inspiration to tourism entrepreneurs, developers, DMO’s, students and researchers working with tourism is the Arctic. These reports will be also used in the forthcoming online course that the project will aim to launch by the end of the year.

The Swedish report highlights the situation for the entrepreneurs operating in tourism, both from a Sámi perspective and from other local and non-local stakeholders. Based on the interviews, there are several issues that have been identified connected to the expansion of tourism. One is sustainability, but also the use of culture in tourism and different structural problems related specifically to tourism entrepreneurship.

The report from Norway approaches community participation in Sámi tourism in Norway and its relationship with cultural sensitivity. It questions, for example, in which ways can Indigenous peoples and other local communities utilize their cultural heritage and contemporary life in creating successful tourism products and services.

The Finnish report (both in Finnish and English) offers an overview of tourism development in Finnish Lapland with a focus on cultural sensitivity and seeks an answer, for example, to this question: How could cultural sensitivity be enhanced, and what kinds of challenges might it present? The report has a special emphasis on the Sámi cultures.

The report from Greenland examines ongoing tourism development  through the lens of cultural sensitivity, offering an overview of the tourism landscape in Greenland, with a particular emphasis on Nuuk  and Sisimiut. The report discusses, for instance, how local communities and businesses can utilise their cultural heritage and contemporary way of life in creating successful tourism products and services.

The report from Canada examines existing guidelines or certificates for culturally sensitive tourism and attempts to assess guideline use by tourism businesses with cultural experience offerings in the Canadian Arctic. Based on a review of formal agreements, guidelines, and business websites, the report found potential opportunities for tourism development within formal agreements with Indigenous nations, and a lack of conclusive evidence for the application of existing guidelines by tourism businesses in the Canadian Arctic, and specifcally within Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.


Many thanks to all of you who participated in the interviews and helped to bring these reports into life! Please feel free to share and distribute them further.

Best wishes,


Arctic Art and Design students’ visit in Hetta

Text: Chau, Emmanuel, Gu, Yiling & Misia
Video and images : Chau-Hsien Kuo

We are a group of Arctic Art and Design students from the University of Lapland in Finland who travelled to Hetta, in north-west Finland, for the annual ice sculpting competition. The peace-themed competition was organized together by Enontekiö municipality, local hotel entrepreneurs and volunteers. The competition started on Thursday morning, the 27th of February, the sculptures having to be completed by noon on Saturday, the 29th of February. The sculptors came from Norway, Ukraine, Germany and Finland, and from various different professional backgrounds, such as industrial design, architecture or stone masonry. There were 14 sculptors in total, who worked in pairs, so that 7 sculptures were entered into the competition.


The village of Hetta is spread over a significant distance along the shore of lake Ounasjärvi, and as the sculptures were sponsored by various local businesses and hotels, they were erected in front of each business or hotel and are thus spread quite far over the entire village. The motifs and techniques used by the artists also were very different. Some sculptures were abstract, with precise, simple, and geometric shapes, whereas others were figurative and had a much more organic style. Others still were a mixture of both, like the one made by two Ukrainian architects, which represented a pair of lovers, rendered in very abstract shapes. The tools and techniques reached from very basic scrapes and knives, to electric saws equipped with blades designed to cut ice. The artists experimented with different techniques to texture the ice and to make it fully translucent, milky white, or covered in thin layers of snow.

The names of the finished artworks were: 1. Northern peace, 2. No worries, 3. Weekend, 4. Balance, 5. Peace spreads in the wings of nature, 6. Peaceful lovers, 7. Peace of mind. We know that the winners were No.7, No.2 and No.3 but having observed the making and final result of each sculpture, we had a difficult time choosing our personal favorites, as the sculptures all were magnificent.

This trip to Hetta was part of a project that promotes the existing cultural program of the Enontekiö municipality (where Hetta is the biggest settlement), and improve online visibility and recognition of these events. The purpose of this specific visit was to observe the ice sculpture competition as a case study, to develop a marketing strategy based on it and other cultural events later in the spring. We are now working on adjusting our plans due to the pandemic situation world is in. The eventual goal of the project is that the strategy we design could then be applied to all the cultural events in Enontekiö, to help valorize the local culture as well as the nature.

With this project, we hope to be able to help the stakeholders (the local actors in tourism, such as hotels and other tourism-related businesses, as well as residents and tourists). We believe that our greatest strengths as a team lie in our multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary background, as we come from China, Germany, Poland, and Taiwan, and have studied different disciplines before beginning our Master’s program at the University of Lapland.

We used our short stay in Hetta to conduct interviews with local actors, artists, and tourists from all over Europe. We received a warm welcome in Hetta and enjoyed walking around the village for two (and a half) days, talking to many friendly faces, and gaining valuable information in the process. We also got to experience the wonderful nature in which Hetta is set and took plenty of pictures and videos, which we can use for the marketing. We even got to see beautiful northern lights!


Greetings from Rovaniemi,

Chau, Emmanuel, Gu, Yiling & Misia

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

Statistics Canada. (2019). Aboriginal Peoples Highlight Tables, 2016 Census. Retrieved from