Ready for foreign tourists? Cross-border knowledge sharing in tourism

Sustainable tourism, hospitality, internationalization and cooperation were the themes for the two-day seminar organized in Vaasa-Umeå in May. The organizers were the Kvarken Council’s Botnia-Atlantica project Spotlight High-Low Coast together with the projects Effekt and AC Hållbar Export. The seminar brought together a large number of tourism entrepreneurs and actors from the Vaasa, Umeå and High Coast regions.

Among the speakers at the seminar were Dan Jonasson from AC Hållbar Export, who presented the principles of sustainable tourism, and Anki Berg from the Museum of Västerbotten, who told how hospitality has changed the way things are done at the museum. Anette Karlsson from the incoming-tourism company Haman Group focused on international tourism trends, one of them being that individual travelling is on the rise while business travel decreases.

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Anki Berg presented what hospitality means at the Museum of Västerbotten.
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Anette Karlsson and Marianne Sjöström
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Dan Jonasson from AC Hållbar Export and Marianne Sjöström from the Kvarken Council

Marcus Eldh from the company Wild Sweden emphasized the importance of cooperation and gave hints for the audience especially on creating product packages. The theme for Neil Roger’s presentation was how a new, shared brand for sustainable tourism, the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast of Ireland, was created through hard work and extensive cooperation.

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Neil Rogers and Marcus Eldh

The seminar participants were content with the presentations and they got inspiration and new ideas to take home with them. A few cross-border collaboration projects were initiated as well.

One of the participants at the seminar was Malin Wälitalo-Palo, director at Österbottens hantverk. She tells that the best part was probably the presentation of Marcus Eldh and his business idea of creating feelings and experiences in the nature. Her thoughts on the concept of hospitality:

– I saw the need that we have at Loftet the House of Crafts, and what we need to work on. We have received positive comments on our relaxed atmosphere and the pleasantness of the staff. We will continue to improve our system for collecting feedback from our visitors.

Bengt Wallin’s company Höga Kusten Walkabout from the High Coast area, which together with the Kvarken Archipelago forms the shared World Heritage Area, is still a fairly new destination for a lot of Finnish visitors. Wallin was pleased with the seminar and he tells:

– I made some new contacts, from Vaasa and from the Umeå region and they could well develop into new cooperation possibilities in health and nature tourism.

Marianne Sjöström, Project Manager for Spotlight, was content with the seminar program and the presentations that reflected all the main themes, showing their importance for successful product packages.

– It was absolutely great to see the participants actively taking part in discussions and networking, and some of them now have plans for cross-border collaboration, which I interpret as a sign of success in the Spotlight project!

A similar seminar covering both sides of the Kvarken area is being planned for the fall of 2017.

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The Finnish seminar participants heading home.


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The Spotlight High-Low Coast project is funded by the EU through the INTERREG Botnia-Atlantica programme. The cross-border World Heritage and tourism project aims to create product packages and marketing materials in order to attract more tourists to the High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago World Heritage Site and its surrounding regions in a sustainable way.

The project is due to end on May 31st, 2018.

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