Is it ok for you to be a Tourist?

News from Finland

Let´s talk about Tourism in Finland, again. I have been following the debate of Finnish Tourism for years. Sometimes I follow it as an outsider, comparing it to my experiences in Spain where I used to live and work in tourism industry more than ten years and still have a strong connection to Spain. Spain is one of the biggest countries in the world when talking about Tourism and we have a lot to learn from Spaniards. I have also done research about sustainable tourism in Spain years ago and it´s results had come quite often to my mind lately.

This week we followed the big event called Suomi Areena which gathers representatives of our society to discuss about the actual issues. Some of the influencial persons of Finnish Tourism industry had also attended the thematic debates of the event.

Unfortunately, I couldn´t be there and didn´t find any videos of the interviews. So, to get an idea what has been discussed is based on few posts on Twitter and LindedIn. According to them the main issue had been the need to clarify the message how to promote Finland as a Tourist destination.

Now it´s interesting to follow the next steps; we have a kind of tourism brand but we need to clarify it, specially from the responsible point of view.

During that event they also talked about Iceland and the secret of its success as a tourist destination. Hopefully they also talked about how to anticipate the problems of fast growing tourism as the success-story of Iceland has its pros and cons as we also know.

Nobody wants to be a Tourist?

There have been couple of articles I have also read during the last couple of days. One of them is this: Residents in Tourism hotspots have had enough which is basicly about overtourism.

Harold Goodwin has defined overtourism as following and I agree it: ”Destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably. It is the opposite of Responsible Tourism which is about using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit. Often both visitors and guests experience the deterioration concurrently”.

In the article linked above, the chief executive of Helsinki Marketing, Laura Aalto, pointed out this: “Nobody wants to be a tourist, everybody wants to be part-time locals. Our job is to create the kind of circumstances, conditions and platforms for visitors who come to Helsinki to meet with the locals and not go to the most obvious attractions”

Ever since I have been studying and working in Tourism industry (more than 25 years) it had been repeting  the same  – nobody wants to be a tourist. Sometimes one wants to be a traveller, some other moment adventurer and now part-time local?

Local meets visitor

I got the point of Laura Aalto´s opinion in the article above and I do agree many other insights in the article. Helsinki marketing is doing  good job and we are happy that our opinions seem to be of our decision makers´interest.

But I somehow got stuck in the world of part-time local. When talking about encounteres  the line  between locals and tourists  is very sensitive and personal and should always be defined by the locals. Are the part-time locals ready to follow the rules and responsibilities – do they pay for the services?

In Spain, when doing the research, most of the locals I interviewed, told that they prefer tourists to have their resorts and own areas so that locals can keep on living the tranquil everyday life. They told they are happy to have tourists and they understand the benefits. They also had interest to offer local services and share cultural specialities  – when they get paid for it because Tourism is an industry where people need to earn also their living.

This is one of the views, which I as tourism professional, would like to point out now in Finland; Tourism industry must be developed in responsible way considering also the economical sustainability and fair pricing. It´s good to remember that skilled professionals are also local.

Helsinki Guides get sometimes messages where locals ask guides to inform the tourists not to enter to private gardens nor to take pictures of private homes or children playing in backyards. In wintertime we had news from Lapland about the locals tired of too many tourists in local supermarkets and pharmacies. One of the Spanish Tour Leaders told the tourists were not so happy to walk in congested streets in Rovaniemi which had been promoted as an authentic wilderness capital.

Different values mean different expectations

Of course the expectations of locals and tourists change and have been changing. The cultural evolution in our society and its influence in tourism is evident.

Transmodern tourists want to have authentic experiences together with locals,  but in the other hand they do respect the rules locals want to establish, they are ready to pay for the experiences and they do respect the nature.

There are still, though, postmodern individualists, adventurers who wants to take their own way and not follow the others, those who expect to have tailor-made services, produced in customer´s terms and defenetly don´t want to be called as tourist.

There are also plenty of modern and traditional tourists willing to have the traditional sightseeing-tours and visiting the most popular sights.

It seems that Finland and Helsinki want to focus on transmodern tourists which is a good decision, as it is the fastest growing value based visitors group in the world.

Most of the visitors coming to Finland at the moment seem to be traditional and modern tourists, and we all need to work hard to get  the marketing message through to our potential visitors  –  and meanwhile understand the expectations of different kind visitors and be ready serve them.

Arctic point of view – what is the correct price for the experience?

I also red an other interesting article: Sustainable arctic Tourism and was happy to find some very good insights about sustainability. Rauno Posio, Project director in Lapland Chamber of Commerce and member or Arctic Economic Council says as following:

”The problem is how to combine the pristine nature with tourism flows. The north will not and should not become a mass tourism destination. Instead, we need to provide high-quality services with prices that help us avoid overpopulating our tourist attractions.”

There are many other persons in industry also talking about pricing. I think it´s very important and would like to totally agree. But it´s again, a theme with pros and cons.

Finland is already known as an expensive tourist destination, Finns and specially Finnish families often travel abroad because domestic tourism is more expensive.

If we make sure the service is worth of higher prices when promoting it abroad – higher prices could be one solution. Maybe there could be other prices for domestic visitors? I have written about nature based luxury experiences and pricing in this previous post: Yes – we have Luxury Tourism in Finland

I also agree those who are telling us not to worry  about masstourism in Finland; we have plenty of pace  and no risk to become a masstourism destination. It´s not about masstourism but about overtourism in our case. I recommend to read the article at the end of this post for not to confuse with the definitions.

Tourism is hospitality industry where human meets human

To offer Premium level Customer Service (new luxury) highly skilled professionals are needed and at this moment there is lack of employees in Finnish Tourism industry. Hospitality enterprices refuse to pay higher salaries and offer better living conditions for seasonal employees because of bad marging. Political decisions to support the industry, high standard education and very good management is needed.

One of the projects to find solutions is the one funded by The Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland called Matkailudiili ( Tourism deal). Please, read more about it here in English: Tourism deal

So – what´s my point in all this?

I would like to point out, that Responsible way should be the only way to develop Tourism. Responsibility is about making human decisions, respect the local and understand that where ever we travel, the time and skills of the Service providers and resources of the experiences should be paid, because Tourism is industry and profession.

In Finland we need to take special care of our nature. In many destinations where overtourism is recognized as a problem, the problems have started from the sights free of charge – because that´s the way to be as a local – finding the places where the locals are – and over time they get overcrowded.

Tourism is hospitality industry where human meets human with respect. Let the locals be hosts and the visitors be guests – it might be the fairest deal for everybody. To conclude my message, I invite you to read also this very good article by Harold Goodwin resuming the history and actual situation about overtourism as it can be understood now: Overtourism

Thank you for following the blog.
Any comments are appreciated!
With arctic regards,
Anu

ps. If you read the definition of  ”Tourist” of two pages (p.499-591) from the Encyclopedia of Tourism edited by Jafar Jafari (Routledge 2000) – you would be proud to be a Tourist!

Let´s talk about Customer Experience in Helsinki and in Lapland

Javier arrived from Lapland – and not for the first time

Javier Pedrosa is Geographer, Researcher and Tourism professional. He has been travelling all over the world and he has been travelling dozens of times with groups in Finland and in other Nordic countries.

It was Javier who told me years ago that the connection we have to nature and the way we respect the old customs makes Finland different from the other Nordic countries. He admires our way of protecting the nature and the way how nature has always inspired Finnish artists and architectures. He also likes a lot the Finnish way of keeping silent and the Finnish way of being. But sometimes he has something more to say – if I ask him, and now I did.

Current topics of Finnish Tourism Industry

We met in Helsinki and started to talk about the very current topics of Finnish Tourism Industry as we both work in same business. Tourism is growing more than ever in Finland and we are facing new challenges among the professionals. Finnish researches are talking about Touristic Story and about Authentic Story. We are some also concerned about responsibility and overtourism.

I got inspired of the news I have been following lately and decided to take some pictures to tell  a short Touristic Story of Helsinki. Please have a look of it here:

Let´s talk about Customer service and Customer experience

Javier comes from Spain, which is the third (o second,depending on the year) biggest Tourist destination in the world. Spaniards know a lot about Tourism as industry, as a serious business and how to make customers happy.

When we met, Javier had arrived from Lapland a day before and had finished the city tour in Helsinki with his clients, with a local guide, of course. It was a good moment to talk about his experiences. I would say that our conclusion was that all kind of stories can be responsible by making the right decisions.

You can join our conversation by this video. After seeing it I will list some very practical tips Javier gave me:

A short list to consider

As I told Javier admires many things in Finland, among the most important is the good education in Nature conservation and he always remembers to mention Martti Ahtisaari and Finnish skills in peace negotiation. He is also grateful to travel with clients in safe country and he gives good feedback about road conditions.

He is not totally happy of the activities offered in Lapland. He would like to have more choices  and more simple activities as we tell on video. He would prefer something else than disposable dish when taking clients to have a soup, some snack or hot drink in Lappish ”kota”.

He also says that the attitude could be better when facing clients from different cultures. Too often the activities happen in a hurry which causes tense and no flexible treatment is considered – and the joy of working with clients would be great to be noticed.

Javier says he noticed this year that there are more non professionals working in several positions. More foreigners are working as well, but Javier says it is no problem always when Finnish or Lappish people take care of the authentic activities where the story is important part of the experience.

Javier was also little bit worried about the capasity of Rovaniemi airport; he says he has been witnessing moments where the tourists have lost their nervs because of too crowded terminal and sometimes there have not been enough place to park the buses.

The feeling of space and tranquility versus Overtourism

As Finland gives the promise to be a silent and spacious destination, it is also, according to Javier, strange to have the feeling of too many people walking in the street and this happens now in Rovaniemi and in Saariselkä. Those who are in Finland for the first time probably don´t have that feeling, but it certainly requires accostum also among the local people durign the high season.

Maybe at the end the most responsible choice is to construct tourist centers for masses – constructed and managed by the locals.

There are good examples in Spain of big Tourist destinations. I used live several years in Benidorm in Costa Blanca and my friends told me already 20 years ago that they prefer to have Tourists living their story of Spain in Benidorm meanwhile the locals live the real story of everyday life of Spain in their own villages and suburbans. I have lived the same reality and totally understand the point.

Benidorm poniente todo

Now we talk about Overtourism. I like Harold Goodwin´s definition of Overtourism and have nothing to add: destinations where hosts or guests, locals or visitors, feel that there are too many visitors and that the quality of life in the area or the quality of the experience has deteriorated unacceptably. It is the opposite of Responsible Tourism which is about using tourism to make better places to live in and better places to visit. Often both visitors and guests experience the deterioration concurrently

Finland has a very good reputation in Education  and  it should be redeemed as a quality in Tourism Industry and in customer service. Shall we all work together to make Finland a good example of excellent service and responsibility? I´m in, are you?

Thank you for following my blog, please feel free to comment below!
I am grateful to cooperate, please visit the website for more information:
Mood of Finland

Javier – muchas gracias por tu tiempo y dedicación! Un abrazo fuerte!

p.s. Harold Goodwin will be attending the Conference for Responsible Tourism in Jyväskylä the 21-23.3.2018. Please read more about: ICRT

Elämänviisautta

Kalevalan oppeja humanismista ja harmoniasta luonnon kanssa

Muutama vuosi sitten Helsingin sanomissa kirjoitettiin silloin 100-vuotiaasta geneveläisestä Juliette Monning Horningista, joka oli lukenut Kalevalan ensimmäisen kerran alle kaksikymppinsenä, siis yli 80 vuotta sitten!

Sittemmin hän oli lukenut Kalevalan viidella eri kielellä. Hän oli täydellisen ihastunut Kalevalaan ja perusteli ihastustaan seuraavasti: ”Ihminen elää Kalevalassa täydellisessä harmoniassa luonnon kanssa, mikä on minulle luontoihmisenä erityisen tärkeää. Kirjassa on suurta humanismia sekä oppimisen ylistystä ja se on täynnä elämäniloa. Kalevala on uniikki teos runouden historiassa maailmanlaajuisestikin.”

Mummi ja Kalevalan opit

Lehtikirjoitus toi mieleen Mummini. Ei siksi, että olisimme viettäneet hänen 100-vuotispäiviään, vaan siksi, että olisin voinut melkein kuvitella Horningin ja Mummin keskustelleen keskenään silloin kun Mummi mietti mitä antaa minulle ylioppilaslahjaksi.

Horning kun toteaa haastattelussa: ”Jokaisen nuoren – ei vain Suomessa vaan kaikkialla – tulisi tuntea ainakin osia Kalevalasta. Monet ovat hieman eksyksissä nykypäivän elämänmenon kanssa ja Kalevalasta he voivat löytää eväitä onnellisuuteen ja rauhaan. Kalevala on nuorten kirja, siitä saa energiaa ja sisua.”

Mummi taisi ajatella samoin, sillä sain Mummilta  ylioppilaslahjaksi Kalevalan ja Mummin omatekemän Tuuterin kansallispuvun! Kesti monta vuotta, ennen kuin osasin oikeasti arvostaa lahjaa.

En laittanut pukua ylioppilasjuhliin, enkä vielä Mummin 70-vuotisjuhliinkaan, joita juhlin oranssi-mustissa hiuksissa ja Marimekon oranssikuvioisessa mekossa. Mummi oli  opettanut minulle teinivuosina, että pukeutumisella kunnioitamme myös muita ihmisiä ja juhlissa etenkin juhlan järjestäjää.

Viisautta oli sekin, että Mummi opetti ja jakoi tietoa, mutta jätti vastuun päätöksistä vastaanottajalle ja ymmärsi ajan tekevän tehtävänsä; radikaali oranssi-musta juhlapuku oli Mummin mielestä oikein hyvä. Mutta Mummin 85-vuotisjuhliin lähdin kansallispuvussa muiden suvun naisten kanssa ja silloin Mummin silmistä paistoi onnellisuus. Syövän uuvuttaman Mummin me hyvästelimme seuraavan vuoden joulukuussa.

Mummi  100 vuotta – muistoissa mukana

23.05.2016 Mummi täyttäisi sata vuotta ja tämä päivä on meillä Mummille omistettu päivä. Niin kuin lehtikirjoituksen Juliette Monning Horningista, niin myös Mummista huokui harmoniaa ja elämänviisautta.

Mummi jakoi elämänviisautta meille lapsenlapsille ja opetti harmoniaa  arjen pienissä asioissa.Erityisesti harmonia näkyi Mummin tyylikkään huolitellussa olemuksessa; loppuun asti  saman sävyinen huulipuna ja kynsilakka – harmoniassa vaatetuksen ja korujen kanssa!

Mummi ja harmonia

Kippis ja Elämälle kiitos!

Mummi vietti 75-v syntymäpäiviään Mallorcalla, missä olin silloin töissä. Hän kirjoitti  viimeisen illan tunnelmasta kivan kuvauksen osoittaen näin pienten hetkien olevan merkityksellisiä: ”Mietin hetken mitä tekisin jääkaapissa olevalle kakkupalalle ja samppanjalle. Heittäisinkö pois? Lopulta otin ne mukaani, istuin parvekkeelle, söin kakkua ja ”ryyppäsin” samppanjaa päälle. Oli se hauska näky, mutta kukaan ei ollut näkemässä, vahinko. Istuin siinä pitkään ja ihailin kaunista iltaa. Niin ihana loma. Kiitos!”

Mummin 85-vuotissyntymäpäivillä lauloimme kitaran säestyksellä Mummin toiveesta laulua ”Gracias a la vida – Elämälle kiitos” – molemmilla kielillä. Nuo kaksi sanaa pitävät sisällään kaikkein tärkeimmän – kyvyn nähdä elämän kauneuden ja olla siitä kiitollinen. Viimeisenä Mummin opetuksena opin luopumaan;  Mummi oli ensimmäinen läheinen ihminen, jonka jouduin hyvästelemään ja Mummi valmisti minua siihenkin.

Mummille kiitos!

Vasta reilu vuosi Mummin syntymän jälkeen Suomi julistautui itsenäiseksi valtioksi. Nuorena aikuisena  Mummi toimi Lottana ja jäi Suomen olympiavuonna 1952 leskeksi 36-vuotiaana yksin pyörittämään arkea  kahden lapsen ja miehensä yrityksen kanssa. Mummi myi vaarin yrityksen ja perusti oman.

Mummin kemikalio-kaupassa minä  opin asiakaspalvelun parhaat opit ja opin ottamaan vastuuta tehdystä työstä jo hyvin nuorena. Mummin kanssa opin pesemään mattoja mäntysuovalla ja nauttimaan oopperasta.

Mummista ja sitten omasta isästä luopuminen on opettanut ymmärtämään yhdessä koettujen hetkien tärkeyden ja keskustelujen merkityksen. Ja sen, että rakkaat ihmiset eivät lopulta häviä elämästä kokonaan pois ikinä, vaan muistot oikeasti kantavat loppuun asti!

Kauneinta ja parasta arvostusta on ylläpitää rakkaiden ihmisten tarinoita ja siirtää niitä seuraaville sukupolville. Meillä muistellaan tänään Mummia. Kiitos, Mummi!

 

To travel or not to travel… Just to remind you how to be Responsible Tourist (Eng)

Responsible Tourist respect the local

In the middle of all the changes we are living in Tourism Industry is good to cool down, and think of our values in life and reflect them in our behavior when traveling. What kind of traveller are you? Teemu Toijan

Make a test  just reading the short material and discover whether you are Traditional, Modern, Postmodern or Transmodern: What kind of traveller  are you?

What ever your ”result” is, you can be responsible Tourist. Even the small changes are significant when making Tourism more responsible industry.

I got the oportunity to write as visiting blogger for Visit Helsinki ( Helsinki´s official Tourist office)  Web pages. It was nice to think about responsibility in local aspect as I usually think about Tourism industry in global level. There are many things we can do in responsible way when travelling in our home country; we can sleep in a family owned hostel or other type of accomodation instead of staying at our friends´ place. We can take our friends to have a coffee or dinner in a local restaurant. We can save water and electricity when staying away from home and we can buy local food and bewerage or handicraft to take home – and support local entrepreuners.

Read more in Visit Helsinki blog: Responsible Tourist in Helsinki by Anu Nylund

 

Have a nice Easter holiday! Yellow is, by the way, color of Hope and Joy!

Iloista pääsiäistä! Keltainen on toivon ja ilon väri.