Looking at Arctic tourism through the lens of cultural sensitivity: ARCTISEN – a transnational baseline report

Kjell Olsen, Mette Simonsen Abildgaard, Camilla Brattland, Daniela Chimirri, Cecilia De Bernardi, Johnny Edmons, Bryan Grimwood, Chris Hurst, Emily Höckert, Kari Jæger, Outi Kugapi, R. Harvey Lemelin, Monika Lüthje , Nuccio Mazzullo, Dieter Müller, Carina Ren, Ritva Saari, Lateisha Ugwuegbula, Arvid Viken

Research output: Book/ReportReport

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The Culturally Sensitive Tourism in the Arctic — ARCTISEN — project involves transnational cooperation between project partners from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Greenland, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. The aim of the project is to introduce sensitivity as a core concept for an improved entrepreneurial business environment. Embracing the notion of sensitivity highlights the negative experiences of cultural exploitation and ensures that Indigenous peoples and other local communities control and determine how their cultures (i.e., what practices, ceremonies, and customs) are used in tourism.

The project is a contribution to inclusive and responsible tourism development with the aim of encouraging tourism entrepreneurship among previously underrepresented or misrepresented groups. The project will raise awareness related to, for instance, the sensitive use of cultural symbols and traditional livelihoods in tourism development together with culturally sensitive product development. By doing this, the project will create better opportunities for Indigenous and other local tourism entrepreneurs in the Arctic regions to utilize both their cultural heritage and contemporary and everyday lives in creating successful tourism products and services. The main result of the project will be achieved by improving and increasing transnational contacts, networks, and cooperation among different businesses and organizations.

This report includes systematized information and built knowledge of the current practices of utilizing Indigenous and other local cultures in tourism in the project area. The project partners have interviewed start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), local destination management organizations (DMO), and other tourism actors about their business environments, product development, and capacity-building needs. In total, the partners conducted 44 interviews in Finland, 13 in Greenland, 23 in Norway, and 18 in Sweden. The focus of the interviews lied in questions of agency and self-determination, but also on issues related to the use of cultural resources in tourism. The findings are elaborated on in the respective, more detailed national reports published for this project.
This report offers cross-national comparisons to understand the multiple ways of drawing on place-based cultural resources in Arctic tourism, as well as a systematic collection of examples that represent successful and challenging tourism ventures.
First, we give a short introduction to the general issues in the ARCTISEN area and then present a review of how the concept of culturally sensitive tourism has been used in the scholarly literature in general and in the countries in the ARCTISEN project area in particular. Then, the report offers a general overview of legal, territorial, and cultural minority–majority challenges in tourism development in the project area. Thereafter, we move to discuss existing guidelines and certificates for culturally sensitive tourism and explore then travelers' interests toward, and awareness of, culturally sensitive tourism products. Finally, the report offers an overview of developmental needs in the project area and weaves together some joint conclusions.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRovaniemi, Finland
PublisherUniversity of Lapland
Number of pages56
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-6620-39-8
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2019


  • Tourism
  • Sensitivity
  • Arctic tourism


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