The case area consists of Utsjoki, the northernmost municipality in Finland. Utsjoki is the only municipality in Finland where the Indigenous Sámi people form the majority of the population. There are no urban sites in Utsjoki but small villages and wilderness.
Cultural tourism products, motivations and existing gap
Tourism has been highly seasonal there. The main season has been summer and the main attraction the river Teno offering the possibility to catch wild salmon. However, the situation is now changing. The season is moving towards winter and away from fishing tourism, due to changes in the fishing regulations. Cultural tourism is less developed in Utsjoki than nature-based tourism but both nature-based activities and cultural attractions are marketed to the tourists. Tourism is increasing and becoming more international, and there is a need to combine tourism with Sámi culture in socially and culturally sustainable ways. According to the representatives of the municipality, the SmartCulTour project could be of help here.
What we would like to reach with the SmartCulTour project is a local common understanding of cultural tourism development in the area: Do the local communities want to develop cultural tourism in the area, and if yes, what kind of cultural tourism and how? For that purpose, we need to provide the local communities with information about the possibilities and impacts of cultural tourism, especially sustainable Indigenous form of cultural tourism, and what kind of tourists cultural tourists are. To be able to provide this information, we need to study sustainable Arctic Indigenous tourism demand and trends, both qualitatively and quantitatively. We also need to involve the local communities and stakeholders with various methods to discuss among themselves about the current problems in local tourism, alternative solutions to these problems and future development directions, and to encourage them to cultural tourism planning and implementation together. We would like the local communities and stakeholders to discuss together whether their want to develop cultural tourism in their area, and if yes, what kind of cultural tourism, what kind of tourists they want to have in their area, which parts of their culture they want to represent to the tourists and how, and who wants to do it, or who is allowed to do it. We would also like to test and develop indicators with which to follow the cultural and social sustainability of tourism in the area and to set limits of acceptable change together with local communities and stakeholders.
Suggested activities and innovations being developed
The innovation we would like to develop in the case area within the SMARTCULTOUR project is culturally sensitive tourism. It is a new concept with which we are currently experimenting in another project called Culturally Sensitive Tourism in the Arctic (ARCTISEN) and funded by the Northern Periphery and the Arctic Programme. In ARCTISEN, we are mainly working with local tourism SMEs, whereas within SmartCulTour, we would like to take a more community-based and strategy-level approach to develop the concept further. It would be part of the toolkit with which the local communities and stakeholders can discuss about, plan, and implement cultural tourism policies and strategies in their area. Preferably, at the end, it would be an important part of local and regional tourism strategies.
The local stakeholders we would like to involve in our case are, among others, the tourism companies and their associations operating in the area, the local artisans and artists, the Sámi artisans’ association Sami duodji, the Sámi Parliament, the Sámi Museum Siida, the municipaliy, the regional DMO, Metsähallitus, the reindeer herders and their co-operatives, the local village associations, other local associations, and local residents. We plan to involve them in the SmartCulTour project by organising workshops, utilising social media and testing with them the serious game that will be designed in the project. We are also ready to develop and test new, innovative ways of involvement.