Regenerative Tourism Workshops
The tourism industry is the sector that has suffered the most from the Covid-19 pandemic when it comes to economic losses, leading to mass lay-offs and vanishing local expertise. Travel restrictions, closed borders and economic hardship has led to an almost standstill in tourist activities, international work travels, and conferences.
The conference “Regenerative Tourism in the North Atlantic” addressed the challenges facing the tourism industry in the region today and after the pandemic, focusing on building back better, while aiming for a higher degree of local economic revenue, and environmental and social sustainability. A region that is good for its citizens, is a good region to visit, and this should be recognized by generating a tourism industry taking local needs and workplaces into account.
The Nordic region is to become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. An integrated region requires cooperation across borders. A key output of the conference will thus be a common approach among the stakeholders in the North Atlantic to the way forward in establishing a regenerative rural tourism, leaving a greener footprint.
In addition to keynotes and presentations from prominent voices in tourism, the conference also gave insight into specific, hands-on examples from tourism providers in the Nordics in parallel afternoon workshops. The workshops focused on three different themes:
Hawkhil is eco friendly family run co2 neural cottage resort surrounded by Nuuksio national park near Helsinki Finland. In addition to building ecologically from timber, guiding their guests on how to act ecologically, promoting environmental protection, being part of environmental certification, Hawkhil has also started a food aid project which supports local restaurants and has helped minimize food wastage.
Jann started his own tourism business back in 1984. In addition to Lofoten Aktiv he also owns Lofoten Kajakk, which was one of the first companies in Norway to be ‘Certified EcoTourism Norway’ in 2008. In 1998 Jann was awarded the WWF prize for ‘best practice in combining tourism and nature protection’.
The two companies offer ecological sustainable experiences such as guided tours with sea kayaks, mountain hikes, photo tours, bike tours etc. The companies employs 9 guides who work full and part time and who all live in Lofoten and its vicinity.
North Sailing, Iceland
Pioneers in whale watching and sustainable tourism, North Sailing is a dedicated family company with great respect for wildlife and nature. North Sailing has been awarded nationally and internationally for innovation, regional development and sustainability.
Since the beginning in Húsavík, Iceland, in 1995, North Sailing has focused on sustainable practices and responsible approaches to whales and wildlife. The company follows a strict code of conduct for whale watching and is a certified responsible whale watching operator.
In 2015, North Sailing took a big step forward by implementing a hybrid-electric system in Schooner Opal, the company’s flagship. Therefore, it probably became the first whale watching company in the world to offer carbon-neutral tours. The company now has two electric boats that allow guests to sail silently, causing minimum disturbance to whales and nature.
In the last few years, in cooperation with Ocean Missions, North Sailing has developed citizen science tours and expeditions from Húsavík, where guests participate in marine research, micro-plastic analysis and gain insight into ocean conservation.
North Sailing’s mission is to offer inspiring and educational adventures at sea with the high involvement of guests and a low carbon footprint.
Since Sinatur was established as a hotel chain in 2007, responsibility and sustainability have been an integrated part of the business. Sinatur is by far one of the most ambitious companies in the hotel and restaurant industry when it comes to doing business in a way that does not affect the nature negatively, but instead finds solutions that respect nature and help it flourish. This means that every day Sinatur does all they can to give more back to nature and each other than they take.
Claus Nielsen is the CEO of Sinatur Frederiksdal, one of the 6 Sinatur Hotels, a significant driving force for the impressive journey Sinatur is on. Claus comes and shares experiences from one of the most inspiring responsibility efforts - both those that went well and those that could have been better. If you want to be a pioneer in the area of responsibility, you need to be brave, dare to move on rocking ground, and set goals you have no idea how to achieve - and at the same time believe that it makes a difference as long as you do effort and puts action behind what one believes in. Every day. Throughout the organization.
Heidi Savolainen is the Managing Director and Lead Adventure Guide of Adventure Apes, a nature travel company located in Northern Finland. Sustainability has been one of the core values of the company since the beginning and Heidi wants to take into account all the aspects of sustainable travel in the daily operations. Adventure Apes believes nature belongs to everyone and organises adventures also for those with disabilities.
Adventure Apes wants to include local people in their activities. Sometimes the locals are invited to play ice hockey with the foreign travellers and sometimes local grandmothers are taking the customers on berry picking tours. International cooking sessions are very popular and sometimes the whole village comes to have a party with their customers.
The Importance of Local Involvement
Jerry Engström is the previous Global Marketing Director at the Outdoor Brand Fjällräven who decided to move back to the High Coast of Sweden to pursuit his dream - to establish FriluftsByn, a careful balance of nature, creativity and community. A big part of FriluftsByns positive development is thanks to local involvemenet. Jerry will share his thoughts and practical tips.
Træna 365 – creating a liveable community through innovation, tourism and local development
”A Magical World, Far Up North, out to the left And How The Helvete To Get There? ”
Right at the Arctic Circle, some hours from mainland in northern Norway lays a small island community. It’s called Træna and it’s populated by 450 people. Through several years Træna has been working with community development where festivals, tourism, culture, industry and research projects have been drivers for community innovation. Now the next big investment is Træna 365 –a hotel project where the target is to create a unique landscape hotel and at the same time be a catalyst for innovation and local development.
Moa Björnson is Head of Development in the Municipality of Træna and CEO for Træna 365 AS and will give her views on how to create an attractive destination and a vivid local community.
JÓHAN PAULI HELGASON
In April 2019, the Faroe Islands saw unprecedented success for its first-ever ‘closed for maintenance, open for voluntourism’ initiative, which formed part of a wider move by Visit Faroe Islands to pave the way for a sustainable future for the islands and its burgeoning tourism industry.
The Maintenance Crew worked alongside locals to preserve ten locations across the islands, maintaining and creating hiking pathways and viewing areas, and setting up signposting. All the projects were identified by local municipalities, tourism centres and local villagers. It was immediately decided to make this an annual initiative, however Covid came in the way. In the spring of 2021 Visit Faroe Islands organized a ‘closed for maintenance, open for voluntourism’ initiative for locals which again was very successful and in the days 22 – 24 September we will again welcome international volunteers, who will work alongside locals to preserve the Faroe Islands.
Locally-anchored season expansion in South Greenland
South Greenland has a vision to offer the most diverse range of experiences in the country, spanning at least three out of four seasons. The regional DMO Innovation South Greenland went all in and led a recognossiance project earlier this year to jump start the product portfolio for winter experiences. The entire program was rooted in the activities that local operators themselves want to promote, and this is the essence of what will make season expansion successful in the long run.
From the northern forests and farmlands to the extreme peaks of the southern fjords, four locally-owned and operated adventure companies - plus one expert partner from another region - cooperated to showcase what they can put together for winter travellers.
SVEINN BIRKIR BJØRNSSON
In the last decade, Iceland has taken specific actions to counteract seasonality in tourism. Sveinn Birkir Björnsson will talk about how seasonality has changed in that time and what has been done to encourage that change.