Moving from responsibility to regenerative tourism?

From sustainable development to responsible action

When the warm sea breeze caressed my face in the early years of my tourism profession in the 1990s, I looked at the horizon and contemplated the next professional move, which I was that time deciding by myself.  It was a new situation as during the previous five years my employer had made the decisions for me. I was working as a tour guide abroad, working summer seasons in mainland Spain and Mallorca and winter seasons on Canary Islands and Caribbean.  

During those years, the experiences we exchanged with colleagues, were mainly on how many flights a year we had taken, where the best bars were found and where the nicest guide apartments were. Customers didn´t get many advices where to buy responsible souvenirs and how to support locals.  We didn´t  clarify the background of the products or services.

The 1987 Declaration on Sustainable Development of the World Commission on Environment and Development, chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, had not yet been implemented in the training or orientation program of foreign guides, but awareness began to knock and interest began to arouse. Globally sustainable tourism was defined.

 

Benidorm on yksi Euroopan suurimmista rakennetuista matkailukohteista. Korkeita rakennuksia ja pitkä hiekkaranta. Kun alueella on paljon ihmisiä, infrastruktuurin pitää olla riittävä

I observed, wondered, and worried about the changes I noticed first in nature and then in the carrying capacity of the built environment (especially water outages, waste problems and run off waters).

Quite quickly, I questioned the way local people were left outside without appreciative involvement and a clear opportunity to benefit of tourism financially. I followed this unfair development first in the all-inclusive destinations in the Dominican Republic , then on my own trekking trip in Mexico, and finally in my working environment in Benidorm on the Spanish coast, where I  settled down at the end of my reflections.

I was not alone with my thoughts, although I received astonished comments from companies in both Spain and Finland when I spoke about the subject. Responsibility was thought to be a mere item of expenditure, a nonsense of “greenies” and contrary to profitable business.

The principles of responsible tourism were published in 2002 at the first International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Cape Town (Cape Town Declaration 2002):

Responsible Tourism is about making better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. Responsible Tourism requires that operators; hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists  take action to make tourism more sustainable.

 I followed news from the conference and my mind was overwhelmed by the burning need to find out how responsibility differs from sustainable tourism. I found and offered answers in my bachelor’s thesis at the University of Lapland in 2010.

Subsequently, awareness increased further with the adoption of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development Agenda2030 at the UN Summit in 2015. Agenda2030 combines previous UN Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Agenda based on the Rio Conference on Environment and Development. All UN member states are committed to the goals and derived from them the strategy and action plan – Finland with others.

Now we live in the 2020s  – what happens next?

Travel destinations are better places for locals to live and tourists to visit (at least should be). We have learned to make choices that cause the least possible harm to the environment and local communities. We understand where emissions come from and how the carbon footprint can be reduced. We avoid destinations where locals have risen to the barricades due to the side effects of overtourism. We support local small businesses. We do not buy unethically produced products and services and do not fly unnecessarily.

Just as in the early 2000s I wanted to understand responsibility, some years ago I wanted to learn more about new definitions of tourism.  

The answers did not come to me quite directly. I would have liked to find my way to Irene Ateljevic´s Academy of Hope, which was never founded, I was inspired by Rosa María Rodriguéz’s publications on transmodern tourism and made a business plan appropriately combining theories and experiences of the transformative and caring economy. I named my Master’s degree thesis ”The Yellow Book of Tourism” (2013) and in doing so I learned a lot. I founded Mood of Finland company based on what I had learnt in 2018.

Everything I write above was in the past tense. I wanted to see over the past and the present. I wanted to understand what was the next level we are now moving on. Anna Pollock led me to the edge of the new.

From Conscious to Regenerative Tourism

As we move from reducing harms to doing good in holistic way, we are on the verge of reform. Producing added value and giving the opportunity to do good.

I red Anna Pollock’s first definitions of regenerative tourism in early 2019, and the topic began to come up more often  with an emergency caused by the Covid19. Maybe the crisis was needed to a real stop to find a new direction.

Val Guiña Matias

This picture is a memory of Chile. I helped clean up a small artisan shop after the earthquake in 2010 in Valparaiso.

Regenerative tourism is believed to provide solutions for tourism recovery. The importance of co-operation is emphasized and cross-sectoral co-operation is encouraged. Anna Pollock offers e.g. these items in response to the question of what should be taken into consideration now:

  • Changing our mindsets – the way we see, be and do tourism, community by community, host by host
  • Exploring and expressing what it means to be fully human, fully alive and living in harmony with nature
  • Coming together in communities to break down the barriers that isolate tourism from other sectors.
  • Regenerative Tourism: moves us from “doing less harm” past “ doing more good” to becoming partners-servants of nature to help life thrive and evolve.

Please, read more about Anna Pollock´s excellent thoughts by following her in LinkedIn and visiting this page.: Conscious Travel

So, when facing tourism in regenerative way, we in addition to pay attention to the environment and people and minimizing harm, we are tempted to do more good and provide services that enable us to achieve a renewed outcome. Concrete actions for regenerative tourism may first be those in which we repair the damage already done or pay special attention to those who/what has received less attention.

Give back more than you take. 

The theory requires to be followed by concrete action. The first example comes from agriculture, where negative impact on biodiversity loss is identified. Regenerative agriculture refers for example to farming practices that aim to restore soil biodiversity, sequester more carbon and this way mitigates climate change and improve water circulation.

In tourism businesses, equality, non-discrimination and inclusion have received little attention. Regenerative tourism can mean diversifying work communities; according to Agenda2030 goal number eight, everyone should have  opportunity to work and experience being major in one´s own community.

Recruitment has traditionally sought the best possible input-return benefit, but now this equation can and should be viewed with new eyes, with new values. Recruitment is a message of values and an opportunity to influence the surrounding society.

As an example of a regenerative travel service, I raise my Mood of Finland company’s concept called Love Forest Finland, which is in the early stages of its life cycle.

The core of the concept is to offer guests the opportunity to plant a symbolic Tree of Love, show love to the person or object they want, buy a certificate printed on handmade paper and donate money to protect old forests. Guests are given the opportunity to do good on nature´s terms and by offering job for small business owners as well as craftsmen. Locals and guests are invited to plant trees together.

Leaving the place better than it was before our visit

As a definition of Regenerative tourism I have also seen this:
Leaving the place better than it was before you found it
 
 
The above objective could be applied as a human indicator when measuring the success of tourism by the happiness and well-being of the locals (for example in such places as Vanuatu). When also adding the value given to the environment  I find it beautiful way to understand tourism in holistic way. Local communities and nature have given us so much, now it´s our time to give back.

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It is time to end this reflection and say goodbye to you. Finally, let me give you a few more thoughts to consider:

How do we, as entrepreneurs, ensure that locals are happier and the environment has benefited from the visit?

As service providers we are used to do our best to make our customers happy. Let´s keep on doing so, and in addition ensure that locals and the environment receive the attention they deserve. 

As tourists, we strive for well-being and happiness for ourselves when travelling. How could we do good and leave the place better after our visit?

 

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Thank you for following by blog. 
I will appreciate any comments. 
With kind regards, 

Anu
Owner and Founder
Mood of Finland Oy
http://www.moodoffinland.com

Nature based Happiness

A French journalist challenged COVID-19 to understand Finnish happiness

As we were living the period of long awaited Christmas Holidays, there were not so many seizing the opportunity to host a French journalist coming to Finland at short notice – to discover the secret of happiness. I did not hesitate a moment when I was asked by Helsinki Marketing to take Corine (our guest)  for a forest walk and talk about nature and happiness.

There was an other reason that visiting Finland in December 2020 was not the easiest moment to come; crossing the borders was not self-evident as we lived in a time of strict travel restrictions because of COVID-19. Corine had taken the COVID-19 test twice with negative result and we agreed to wear masks indoors and keep safety distance outdoors.

I could have hosted the visit by my own, but it´s not the way I want to work. So I contacted other entrepreneurs to share this experience. Doing together makes me happy and it´s one of my company´s main values.

We were four entrepreneurs taking care of Corinne during her visit to Lake Tuusula. Risto Karjalainen (Adventuristo) and Jonna Granroth (Metsänautti) took care of the beautiful winter picnic by open fire during our forest walk. Our national artists as Jean Sibelius, Pekka Halonen, Eero Järnefelt and Eino Leino used to gather together to this same place (Sarvikallio) with their families to have picnic and to get inspired by nature.

Ulla-Maija (Ullis) Rouhiainen (Ullis Travel Studio)  guided us to the stories of the famous artist community of Lake Tuusula and later hosted Corinne´s  sauna experience in Helsinki.

Facts about happiness

Finland has ranked once again to be the number one in the UN´s Happiness report.  It takes into account factors such as healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, gross domestic product (GDP), generosity, social support from friends, perceived corruption, as well as recent emotions of the respondents, both good and bad. (More info Forbes 26052020)

At the beginning of our meeting Corinne wanted to know if Finland’s success in the happiness survey surprised me. No, it didn´t – considering the factors measuring happiness.

I was thinking about happiness a lot three years ago when making the decision to establish my own company and taking an economical risk in my personal life. It was clear to me that establishing own company was about freedom to make life choices, possibility to live according to my values and about having a meaning in my professional life.

If I hadn´t dared to establish company in a country like Finland, I would have been quite a coward as we live in a very supporting society. I have had opportunities to study and got multiple skills – so I trust that if  I am willing to work and adapt to a basic standard of living, if necessary, I survive. Taking account the theme of  our meeting and the studies related to this article, it´s not, of course, only about surviving in life but also about finding the happiness and you can´t measure all in money.

The secret of Happiness

Yale University has launched very popular online course known around the world called PERMA -test. It promises to tell us what the secret of happiness is. The name of the test comes from words Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement.

I red an article about PERMA -test some days before meeting Corinne. The article not only confirmed my thoughts of happiness but also taught something new. Which I totally agree is that gratitude and the importance of not comparing ourselves to others is some of the basic factors. Based on my experience it works; I have been practicing gratitude by writing gratitude diary and changing my inner talk to myself for some years now and I feel more happy.

Kindness was mentioned as an important indicator which unites happy people. It´s easy to agree that being kind and helping others in unselfish way make us feel profoundly happy. I think that gratitude and kindness are related also to equality and non-discrimination.

Capability to concentrate is related to engagement and achievement. As it was said in the article, we can improve our own ability to concentrate: all you have to do is meditate. Good news for many is that you don’t have to do any formal meditation practice according to complex rules; you can just stare out the window or focus on your breathing.  (HS 25.12.2020 Hyvän mielen…)

Nature brings Happiness

With the journalist we had some silent moments and breathing exercises in forest as a prove of simple, nature based meditation. We also talked about relationships, the importance of human contact and the lack of it in these days.

We really can´t replace human touch of anything but I invited Corinne to hug and even kiss the trees as it´s totally safe even during COVID-19 and also our way to calm down and get good feeling. Well-being effects of nature, such as lowering blood pressure, have been proved by  researches worldwide.

Many of my foreign friends had said that what makes us different in Finland from our neighbors is our way to connect with nature. It´s something primitive and beautiful where respect and willingness to keep on sustaining our traditions connects with the wisdom that is passed from one generation to another.

Nature indeed makes me happy, in all seasons and wherever I am. My nature is diverse and it´s open to anybody who respects its uniqueness and power which is stronger than us.

I want to thank for this opportunity to work together with wonderful professionals in my last working day in 2020.

Thank you Corine for you inspiring visit in Finland! Hope to see you here again!
It was a beautiful experience to stop and reflect on what happiness really is.

Today I am happy to celebrate the third anniversary of my company Mood of Finland Oy
My decision three years ago to follow my dreams and taking the risk has been worth of it.
I feel very grateful!

Thank you for following by blog.
Wishing you happiness and all the best for 2021!
With love,
Anu

ps. The journalist mentioned in my blog will publish a professional article about Happiness in Le Monde magazine´s La Vie – supplement in French. She was hosted by Helsinki Marketing (Sara Jäntti)

And finally, I invite you to watch the video of some ”haiku” poems I have been writing last year (in Finnish). They are a mixture of nature, love and a hint of melancholy.

2020-luku – siirrytäänkö vastuullisuudesta uudistavaan matkailuun?

Kestävästä kehityksestä vastuulliseen toimintaan

Kun lämmin merituuli hyväili kasvojani matkailuammattilaisuuteni alkuvuosina 1990-luvulla, katselin horisonttiin ja mietiskelin seuraavaa ammatillista siirtoa, josta tällä kertaa päättäisin itse. Edeltävät viisi vuotta olin siirtynyt kohteesta toiseen puolen vuoden välein työnantajan lähettämänä; olin ulkomaanoppaana kesällä manner-Espanjassa tai Mallorcalla, talvella Kanarialla tai Karibialla.

Noiden vuosien aikana vaihdoimme kollegojen kanssa kokemuksia lähinnä siitä, kuinka monta lentoa vuodessa olimme tehneet, mistä löytyivät parhaat baarit ja missä olivat kivoimmat opasasunnot. Asiakkaitakin ohjailtiin surutta ties mihin vierailukohteisiin ja kauppakeskuksiin ostamaan jos jonkinlaista turhaketta kohteiden tai tuotteiden taustoja sen kummemmin selvittämättä.

Gro Harlem Brundtlandin johtama ympäristön ja kehityksen maailmankomission Kestävän kehityksen julkilausuma vuodelta 1987 ei ollut vielä jalkautunut ulkomaanoppaiden koulutukseen tai perehdytykseen, mutta tietoisuus alkoi kolkutella ja kiinnostus herätä. Globaalisti kestävä matkailu oli määritelty.

Benidorm on yksi Euroopan suurimmista rakennetuista matkailukohteista. Korkeita rakennuksia ja pitkä hiekkaranta. Kun alueella on paljon ihmisiä, infrastruktuurin pitää olla riittävä

Minä observoin, ihmettelin ja huolestuin muutoksista, joita huomasin ensin luonnossa, sitten rakennetun ympäristön kantokyvyssä (etenkin vesikatkot, jäteongelmat ja hulevedet) ja seuraavksi ihmisissä.

Aika nopeasti kyseenalaistin palvelut, joissa paikalliset ihmiset jäivät kehittämisen jalkoihin ilman arvostavaa osallistamista ja selvää mahdollisuutta hyötyä matkailijoista taloudellisesti. Tätä epäreilua kehitystä seurasin ensin rakenteilla olevissa  Dominikaanisen tasavallan all-inclusive -kohteissa, sitten omalla vaellusreissulla Meksikossa ja lopulta  työympäristössäni Benidormissa Espanjan rannikolla, jonne olin pohdintojeni päätteeksi asettunut.

En ollut yksin ajatusteni kanssa, vaikka yrityksissä sainkin ihmetteleviä kommentteja niin Espanjassa kuin Suomessa aiheesta puhuessani. Vastuullisuuden ajateltiin olevan pelkkä menoerä, ”viherpiipertäjien” hömpötystä ja ristiriidassa kannattavan liiketoiminnan kanssa.

Vastuullisen matkailun periaatteet kirjattiin ja julkaistiin vuonna 2002 ensimmäisessä kansainvälisessä vastuullisen matkailun konferenssissa Kapkaupungissa (Cape Town Declaration 2002).  Muistan seuranneeni konferenssia ja mieleni valtasi palava tarve selvittää, miten vastuullisuus eroaa kestävästä matkailusta. Vastauksia tarjosin Lapin yliopistoon tekemässäni kandityössä vuonna 2010: Mitä se vastuullinen matkailu oikein on

Seuraavaksi tietoisuus lisääntyi entisestään, kun globaali kestävän kehityksen toimintaohjelma Agenda2030 hyväksyttiin YK:n huippukokouksessa vuonna 2015. Agenda2030 yhdistää  aikaisemmat YK:n vuosituhattavoitteet ja Rio de Janeiron ympäristö- ja kehityskokoukseen pohjautuvan kestävän kehityksen agendan. Kaikki YK:n jäsenvaltiot ovat sitoutuneet tavoitteisiin ja johtaneet niistä strategian sekä toimintasuunnitelman – Suomi muiden mukana.

Nyt on 2020-luku ja niin moni asia on toisin!

Matkakohteista on tehty parempia paikkoja paikallisille asua ja matkailijoille vierailla (osittain). Olemme oppineet tekemään valintoja, joilla aiheutamme mahdollisimman vähän haittaa ympäristölle ja paikallisille yhteisöille. Ymmärrämme, mistä päästöt aiheutuvat ja miten hiilijalanjälkeä voi pienentää. Vältämme kohteita, joissa paikalliset ovat nousseet barrikadeille liikaturismin lieveilmiöiden vuoksi. Tuemme paikaillisia pienyrittäjiä. Emme osta rihkamaa emmekä lentele turhaan.

Niin kuin 2000-luvun alussa paloin halusta ymmärtää vastuullisuutta, paloin joitakin vuosia sitten halusta oppia lisää ja löytää merkkejä uudesta matkailun määrittelystä. Löysin, mitä etsin.

Vastaukset eivät tulleet eteeni ihan suoraan. Olisin halunnut löytää tieni Irene Ateljevicin Toivon Akatemiaan, jota ei koskaan perustettu, imin Rosa María Rodriguézin oppeja transmodernista matkailusta ja rakentelin oman yrityksen liiketoimintasuunnitelmaa transformatiivisen ja välittävän talouden teorioita ja kokemuksia sopivasti tähän kaikkeen yhdistellen. Nimesin graduni Matkailun keltaiseksi kirjaksi ja sitä tehdessä opin paljon.

Kaikki tuo on nyt imperfektissä. Halusin nähdä yli tämän nykyisen hetken. Halusin ymmärtää, mikä on se seuraava taso, johon me nyt siirrymme. Anna Pollock johdatti minut uuden äärelle.

Tiedostavasta uudistavaksi.

Kun haittojen pienentämisestä siirrytään kokonaisvaltaiseen hyvän tekemiseen, ollaan uudistamisen äärellä. Tuotetaan lisäarvoa ja annetaan mahdollisuus tehdä hyvää.

Luin ensimmäisiä Anna Pollockin määritelmiä uudistavasta matkailusta alkuvuonna 2019 ja useammin aihe alkoi olla esillä korona-viruksen aiheuttaman poikkeustilanteen myötä. Ehkä aito pysähdys ja uusi suunta tarvitsee toteutuakseen kriisin?

Uudistavan matkailun uskotaan tarjoavan ratkaisuja matkailun elpymiseen.  Yhteistyön merkitys korostuu ja toimialoja ylittävään yhdessä tekemiseen kannustetaan. Anna Pollock tarjoaa mm. näitä nostoja vastauksena kysymykseen mitä uudistava matkailu on:

  1. Oppia näkemään planeetta, suhteemme siihen ja suhtautuminen toinen toisiimme uusin silmin
  2. Ymmärtää, mitä tarkoittaa olla kokonainen ihminen (mieli, ruumis ja sielu) mitä tahansa tehtävää varten olemmekaan olemassa
  3. Määritellään kasvu ja menestys uudella tavalla – menestys ei ole välttämättä kytköksissä kasvuun
  4. Uudistava matkailu on kokonaisvaltaista ymmärrystä ja tekemistä eli vastakohta pirstaloituneeseen toimintaan
  5. Uudistava matkailu on riippuvainen huolehtivista emännistä ja isännistä, jotka haluavat varmistaa, että  kohde on terve ja elinvoimainen

Ympäristön ja ihmisten huomioimisen ja haittojen minimoimisen lisäksi meidät siis houkutellaan  tekemään enemmän hyvää ja tarjoamaan palveluja, joilla mahdollistamme uudistavan lopputuloksen. Uudistavan matkailun konkreettisia toimia voivat olla ensin ne, joilla korjaamme jo aiheutettuja vahinkoja tai kiinnitämme erityistä huomiota sellaiseen, joka on jäänyt vähemmälle huomiolle.

Give back more than you take. Anna enemmän kuin otat.

Teoria vaatii seurakseen konkretiaa. Ensimmäinen esimerkki nousee maataloudesta, jonka negatiivinen vaikutus luonnon monimuotoisuuden köyhtymiselle tunnistetaan. Uudistava maatalous tarkoittaakin esimerkiksi viljelykäytäntöjä, joiden tarkoituksena on palauttaa maaperän biologinen monimuotoisuus, sitoa enemmän hiiltä ja siten hillitä ilmastonmuutosta ja parantaa veden kiertokulkua.

Matkailuyrityksissä tasa-arvoisuus, yhdenvertaisuus ja inklusiivisuus ovat jääneet vähälle huomiolle. Uudistava matkailu voi tarkoittaa työyhteisöjen monimuotoistamista. Agenda2030 tavoite numero kahdeksan mukaan jokaisella tulisi olla mahdollisuus tehdä työtä ja kokea olevansa sitä kautta merkityksellinen omassa yhteisössään. Rekrytoinnilla on perinteisesti haettu parasta mahdollista panos-tuottohyötyä, mutta nyt tätäkin yhtälöä voi ja tulee katsoa uusin silmin, uusin arvoin. Rekrytointi on viesti arvoista ja halusta vaikuttaa ympäröivään yhteiskuntaan.

Matkailupalvelun esimerkkinä nostan yritykseni Mood of Finlandin Rakkauden Metsä  –konseptin, joka on elinkaarensa alkuvaiheessa. Konseptin ydin on tarjota vieraille mahdollisuus istuttaa symbolinen Rakkauden puu, kertoa välittämisestä ja rakkaudesta haluamalleen ihmiselle tai kohteelle, ostaa käsin tehdylle paperille painettu todistus ja lahjoittaa rahaa ikimetsien suojeluun. Vieraille annetaan mahdollisuus tehdä hyvää luonnon ehdoilla ja tarjotaan työtä pienyrittäjille sekä kädentaitajille. Paikalliset ja vieraat kutsutaan istuttamaan puita yhdessä.

Jätetään paikka paremmaksi, kuin mitä se oli ennen vierailuamme

Uudistavan matkailun määritelmänä olen nähnyt käytettävän myös: “Leaving a place better than you found it.” (itse asiassa meille partiolaisille tuttu lause ja tapa toimia).

Jos yllä olevaa tavoitetta sovelletaan Maailmanperintökohteissa ja mm. Vanuatulla käytössä oleviin inhimillisiin mittareihin matkailun menestystä arvioitaessa –  paikallisten onnellisuuteen ja hyvinvointiin, jätänkin Sinut, lukijani tämän kysymyksen äärelle:

Miten me yrittäjinä ja  matkailijoina varmistamme, että myös paikalliset ovat onnellisempia ja voivat paremmin vierailun jälkeen, kun me olemme tottuneet ensisijaisesti varmistamaan matkailijoina, että me itse palaamme kotiin onnellisina ja hyvinvoivina ja palvelun tuottajina, että meidän vieraamme ovat tyytyväisiä ja onnellisia?

Kiitos, että seuraat blogiani. Voit mielellään kirjoittaa ajatuksia ja kysymyksiä alla olevaan kommenttikenttään.

Ystävällisin terveisin,

Anu

Ps. Suomessa löysin vahvistusta ajatuksilleni Baltic Sea Action Groupin toimitusjohtaja Michaela Ramm-Schmidtin erinomaistesta artikkelista  ”Onko aika määritellä vastuullisuus uudestaan..” 10.11.2020

Don´t leave footprints – do good in Tourism

Tourism and nature

When I was asked to tell the most current issues in Responsible Tourism at the moment by a Finnish TV journalist I talked about overtourism, climate change and flying, compensating, carrying capacity, new nature based luxury, the conservation of nature – and the footprints we are leaving while travelling, not only in nature but also in local communities.

I am lucky not to be alone with my thoughts as I cooperate in some of the Mood of Finland concepts with a Spanish geography,  Javier Pedrosa (Iworu and Geoface).  Javier  has finished Master degree in Territorial Planning and Environmental Management in University of Barcelona and his Master Thesis about ”the proposal of an Ecotourism model based on the landscape units of the protected area” has been accepted in July 2019.

Responsible Tourism is a complex combination of ecological, economical, social and cultural development and action  – where the local operators and people should always be involved. It also makes us remember ethical issues as equality and accessibility in all its senses. When talking about Responsible Tourism, it´s not only about nature but as we all know nature needs our special care and attention.

The Local Agenda 21 advocates a decentralized but concerted sustainable development, in which a proactive response is required from the local government, since it is the towns and cities that know best what their own environmental, social and economic interests are

Interpretation of landscape

Javier is geography, entrepreneur and has been working for many years in Tourism Industry. He has been working also as a Tourleader in many countries, including  Finland and other Nordic countries. He has stayed longer periods in several places having always special interest in Scientific Tourism.  Last Summer (2019) he stayed in Iceland.

Asturias francine anu y javi

I hereby share some sentences of the conclusions of Javier´s  Master Thesis –  the ones  I found very interesting, also from the Finnish Tourism perspective.

The interpretation of the landscape as an ecotourism activity allows to increase awareness and understanding whenever the correct didactic practice is applied.

When the superimposed spheres (lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, troposphere) and the historical chronological thread (from the origin of space to our days) are combined,  the speaker and the receiver will have better understanding of the area and be able to discourse respectively.

This might be my favorite:

The interpretation of the landscape is one way of educating and sensitizing the citizens (both local and visitors). 
Javier has specialized in interpretation of landscape  – understanding landscape also as part of Tourism attraction and target of environmental protection.

Landscapes can and should take a greater role in the management of protected areas and claim themselves as an image of territory, image of  locals living there, and part of  locals´ identity. 

What is your favorite landscape

In Finland we have beautiful national landscapes to take care of.  I have been asked to describe the landscape which most touches my feelings. They are several ones and one of them is a sea view in Spain, not only because of the view but also because of the sound, smell, feeling and the memories.

We always go back to those places where we once loved the life

 

I also love the beauty of Finnish nature, its tranquility and the landscape with the combination of natural waters and forests.

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Hossa National Park 2019

 

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 Monnin-Hornungista, 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 Hornungin ja Mummin keskustelleen keskenään silloin kun Mummi mietti mitä antaa minulle ylioppilaslahjaksi.

Hornung 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. Kotona oli  opetettu, että pukeutumisella kunnioitamme myös muita ihmisiä ja juhlissa etenkin juhlan järjestäjää ja äitini pukikin meidät lapsena kauniin tyylikkäästi aina juhliin lähdettäessä.

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 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. Oma äitini on jatkanut samaa tärkeää tehtävää omien lastenlastensa kanssa. 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 todella 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.