Hong Li

Visitor survey in Utsjoki during an event week

The University of Lapland took part in Utsjoen Lumo event on the 9th of July at Onnelantörmä in Utsjoki. The event included live music shows, theatre shows, one author interview, and Sámi handicrafts and local food for sale. The event was part of the Utsjoen Lumo theme week 5.-11.7.2021, which included several cultural activities during the week. While participating in the cultural events, the University of Lapland conducted a visitor survey for the tourists who were visiting Utsjoki.

The purpose of the visitor survey was to gather insights from tourists for cultural tourism development in Utsjoki. The survey included among others questions of tourist’s purposes of their trip, expectations for cultural attractions, and ideas for cultural tourism development. The impact of COVID-19 on personal traveling habits was also inquired. The timing for this survey was ideal since it is traditionally the high season in tourism in Utsjoki. Salmon fishing is one of the major reasons for tourists to come in Utsjoki, but for this summer the salmon fishing in Teno river is restricted. Surprisingly there has been the same amount of tourists as previous years according to tourism entrepreneurs.

Although the visitor survey was small scale, the contents of it were insightful and useful. Utsjoki’s beautiful nature is often the main reason for traveling to Utsjoki according to the survey results. The cultural offer, in general, was seen important as well in a destination. More information for tourists should be gathered in an easily accessible place. The survey was also offered for holiday villages to distribute for their customers.

Third hybrid working meeting of the Utsjoki living lab

The third hybrid working meeting of the Utsjoki Living Lab (LL) was held by the University of Lapland on 8th July 2021. The main objective of the meeting was to engage the local stakeholders in developing the LL’s communication and visibility plan, including tailored communication tools and channels such as a dedicated blog on the SmartCulTour website. Although only five participants were able to attend the meeting due to the tourism peak season, each of them represented different local stakeholders, specifically, the Municipality of Utsjoki, the Sámi Parliament of Finland, the local tourism entrepreneurs, the local service industries, and the local reindeer herders. They offered valuable and constructive ideas on how to enhance the LL’s communication and visibility. During the meeting, a Utsjoki LL tailored roadmap, the DSS – also known as the SmartCulTour Platform, and the SmartCulTour Game were also introduced to the participants, in order to keep them informed of the latest developments in the project.

There were several highlights regarding the LL’s communication and visibility plan:

·  The representative of the Municipality of Utsjoki suggested that a storytelling video about the local culture can be created to provide important information to guide tourists during their visit.

·  The representative of the local reindeer herders suggested information giving on the local handicrafts which have been exhibited in the local museums and/or village house, as this would allow tourists to learn more about the local culture.

·  The representative of the Sami Parliament suggested the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance as a possible channel through which the SmartCulTour project and the Utsjoki LL could be presented.

·  The participants discussed the rights for filming the local reindeers. It was emphasised that the reindeers owned by the natives, herders, and any private parties should not be filmed without their permission.

The meeting closed with the participants planning the LL’s next steps to be taken in the autumn.