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4. RESPECTS AND INVOLVES THE LOCAL COMMUNITY


Lapplandsafari, Vaästerbotten, Sweden (Traditional Sami cultural camp and conference facilities.)

...Once the mountain camp was finished, we invited the whole village to show everybody what we had done, so everybody would feel that they were participating in the project. The whole village came, including the holiday cottage owners, and they were all very impressed. Today everybody in the village has only good things to say about Geunja and it has also spread to other areas through the holiday cottage owners.

Snow Games Ltd., Lapland, Finland

Local stakeholders are consulted when snowmobile and enduro-safaris are being planned. These stakeholders include: Forest and Park Service, private land-owners, reindeer owner’s association and environmental organizations. As a result of negotiations, agreements were reached to arrange safaris on property of the landowners. The operator always informs reindeer herders about safaris beforehand.

Bathurst Inlet Lodge, Western Nunavut

We make it a policy to:

  • Actively encourage ‘ownership’ of our facility by seeking community involvement and input into what we do
  • Communicate activities and direction to the broader community
  • Offer industry placements or work experience to students at local schools
  • Give the local workforce access to training that will improve their chances of more highly-skilled (paid) occupational jobs

Having a ‘purchase local when possible’ policy is good for the community and strengthens the ‘local flavour’ for customers at the same time.

Rid I Jorm, Sweden, offers the following hints:

I have learned that if I’m going to succeed with my tourism investments, it’s extremely important to involve everybody who lives in the area or is involved in it. Therefore, you need to get as much information as possible before you start the business:

  • Which other interested parties exist in the area
  • Can any problem come up with hunting groups and landlords
  • Focus on common interests instead of prospective conflicts
  • Arrange a general meeting, inform in an informal way, invite hunters, landlords and other interested parties, involve the people
  • Don’t run over the locals

The Anishinabe Experience, Golden Lake Ontario, Canada

In the aboriginal community, it is important to seek and obtain approval of community elders before beginning a cultural tourism business...

  • The community should set boundaries on what they deem appropriate or feel comfortable in sharing with visitors.
  • Know the community’s rich and distinct heritage.
  • Conduct an inventory of all human resources based on expertise, skills, language, etc.
  • Build partnerships with others in the development of packages.
  • Ensure [that] the business benefits the community.
  • Partner with the community on publicity and media opportunities.
  • Promote your business and other local businesses, your community, and your region.
  • Utilize local resources and expertise as much as possible.
  • Build upon community pride in sharing the heritage, cultural diversity, and beauty of the region and surrounding area
  • Keep the community abreast on new trends and opportunities in tourism for the overall benefit of the whole
  • Share feedback on the business with the community, including thank-you’s and compliments, media coverage, publicity, etc. This builds community pride and strengthens the business.

We believe that we do not have a business without the support of our Algonquin community. What the community thinks and believes is very important to us. We ensure that all the community values are instilled into our cultural programs. The community is our most valuable asset. In other words, without the community there is no Anishinabe Experience.

Snow Games Ltd., Lapland, Finland

Local subcontractors are used whenever possible. About 25% of the business’s turnover goes to subcontractors. From the customers and staff’s feedback we are able to recognize if something does not go well with the partners.

Polar Sea Adventures, Baffin Island, Nunavut

Nunavut communities have limited resources so it is important we work together. We buy locally whenever possible. It is easier to deal with neighbours – the cost may be higher but it comes back in relationships with local business. Later on stores will help when you have a problem. And don’t be shy to ask for quantity discounts from local stores – this is about building partnerships.

Frontiers North, Kivalliq Region, Nunavut

We make use of locally-owned hotels (Coops) in all the communities we work with, as well as using local guides or outfitters. Clients are taken on community tours which include visits to arts and crafts outlets and encouraged to go into the shops to buy.

Kairosmaja, Lapland, Finland

We have always felt it important to hire staff locally, because in this way they can commit themselves to the values and operations of our company. The customers appreciate this. The permanent staff is mostly employed year-round and some additional help is hired during peak seasons. It is important to take care of the staff, as it reflects on the customer service. We purchase some local products like fish, potatoes, berries and souvenirs.

Some suggestions from our operators:

We hire locally on principle - A cook from down south might be more professional but for us it’s a conscious choice. We stick with local guides on principle. It’s investing in the community. Money stays in the community and people can see tangible benefits from tourism.

Shopping at the Coop store and using the Coop hotel indirectly benefits all the Coop members – almost everyone in the community.

…we trade locally and provide packages of supplies to our guests…[from] small distributors such as the little shop in the village which might otherwise have closed down.

Summer students work at [our] Lodge every year.

Snow Games Ltd., Lapland, Finland

We encourage our staff to become citizens of the local municipality and thus pay taxes to the local municipality.

Webb Outfitting, Western Nunavut

We seek advice from the local Hunters and Trappers Organization on which individuals to hire as guides. We provide short informal training courses and then our guides learn almost as apprentices. (There are already families where young people have lost the traditional skills.) For our kind of business, [the local college] classroom courses don’t work – especially because of their selection criteria for students.

Training to be a hunting guide is best done along with experienced people. We cannot teach anyone to be an Inuk [singular form of Inuit]. It is a good attitude that we can work with. At the same time, the community has invested a great deal of trust in us, in becoming our partners.

Expédition Eau Vive, Québec

Allow me to say a few words about the benefits of social involvement in your community and your industry... My volunteer efforts include:

  • As a canoe instructor, I give volunteer courses at canoe camping clubs
  • I loan out my equipment for good causes
  • I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Québec Human Resources Council
  • I lead an important initiative concerning the qualification of guides
  • I am a member of the Québec Canoe Camping Federation’s training committee
  • I am the President of the Association of Québec Adventure Tourism Professionals.

In total, this adds up to approximately one day of volunteer work per week, which is a lot. However, there are benefits associated with this involvement which I consider to be important:

  • Credibility and high visibility
  • Reputation
  • Always keeping informed about new legislation, policies, etc.
  • Always keeping informed about new programs such as new sources of funding.

Many adventure tourism operators have an excellent product, but they don’t have enough visibility and are not well known.

Excursion Mauricie, Quebec

In order to make our products known, we do tours to familiarize the local accommodation operators in our region with our products. This procedure allows us to consolidate the links of trust and partnership forged with us and towards their clients. At the end of the season, we host a dinner in a traditional maple sugar shack to present our new products, and to talk about our operational methods and client service.

Lapplandsafari, Sweden

A project must be dealt with thoroughly to be successful. It’s important to communicate with all parties concerned during the procedure – with the guests, the experts, the museums in the province, the local politicians, the authorities and other contractors in the area.

But above all, the older locals who have so much knowledge and experiences to share, you have to care about the details…

Bathurst Inlet Lodge, Western Nunavut

Bathurst Inlet Lodge has always been an important part of the community. Some of their approaches have been:

  • Provide tangible support (financial contribution, technical assistance and in-kind) to at least one non-profit group or special event that contributes to the welfare of the regional community in which you operate.
  • Support, volunteer and contribute to local events, such as donated prizes.
  • Be active in a local organization or association.
  • Work with other community groups to promote the region as a tourist destination.

A number of local benefits can be in-kind through discounts, community services, sharing facilities or skills, hosting events, volunteering, partnerships or other creative kinds of activities.

Snow Games Ltd., Lapland, Finland

We are board members in both marketing organizations in the area, Pyhäa-Luosto Association and Luoston Syli. We are participating in several projects at a time. One project has been about creating a new master plan for Pyhäa-Luosto area.

The master plan will be important for the company in the future because it enables us to map out new routes and areas for tourism activities.

Bathurst Inlet Lodge, Western Nunavut

Some fundamentals that Bathurst Inlet Lodge puts into practice:

  • Communicate activities to the broader community.
  • Invite families and others with particular interest to special occasions.
  • Provide information to clients on how they can minimize negative impacts on the local community and its heritage.
  • Provide free or discounted tourism experiences to local schools/educational institutions and special interest groups.

Lapplandsafari, Sweden

Then we went collecting useful information on the area – such as measuring old edifices, talking photographs, visiting museums and talking to old people and relatives to obtain as much information and knowledge as possible.

It was also important to find somewhere where the camp could fit into nature and with the right conditions – a spring, fishing grounds and hunting grounds – exactly as Sami were thinking 100 years ago.

Snow Games Ltd., Lapland, Finland

Local culture and nature are being highlighted in the products that we develop and are based on the customers’ interests. Different customers like different things; for some the safari is the main attraction and for others it is the nature and they only use snowmobiles for transportation.

An old logging site house of the Forest and Park Service has been used for tourist groups. Lumberjacks who used to work there were invited to share stories about the local history and the stories have been documented to save the traditions and culture.

We also hire reindeer herders for the visits to the reindeer farms. For their part, the herders advise the customers about sustainable development uses.

Nutti Sami Siida, Sweden

The guides and the staff members must be proud of telling about our [the Sami] way of living and represent what our product is promising.

The guide has a very important part in our arrangements – they are the ones who can make our inheritance lifelike by showing how we are working with the reindeer, cooking traditional foods, and wearing Sami clothing. But above all, they can in a real and genuine way tell about how the Sami are living and have been living because they have strong connections to the traditions themselves.

Kairosmaja, Pyhaä area, Lapland, Finland

We cooperate with the local community by working with local churches. In the Levi tourism destination, we have begun to work with companies that have similar values as us, in developing tourism products around the theme ‘silence’ and supporting the off-peak seasons.

We have an association of 2000 members, who support the Kairosmaja and in this way we can commit to regular customers of our operation. This enables us to have long-lasting, deep relationships with those customers. With the help of the members’ voluntary work, we have been able to build a new sauna by the lake Pyhaä.

Blueberry Harvest Gifts, Onslow Nova Scotia

My mum has a Blueberry Gift Shop in Onslow, Nova Scotia. She is open seasonally from May until January. Every year she has an open house to re-open the shop and another open house at Christmas.

This gives her the opportunity to invite the surrounding communities and any tourists that happen to be visiting the area at that time into the store for blueberry tea and blueberry flavoured baked goods. This way she gets to know people and they get to see her products. By forming this relationship with the community they are accepting her store, are able to give feedback, and then also help her business through word-of-mouth advertising.

She ends up getting repeat customers some of which are blueberry item collectors. It’s also a good way to meet other Nova Scotians who are making blueberry merchandise and might be interested in having their goods sold at the gift shop. Inviting the local residents into her home-based shop twice a year has had a positive impact on my mother’s gift shop and her relationship with the people who visit her shop.

 


 

   

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