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.  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

 

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?

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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