Just before the event, Lapin Kansa published the article “Animals in tourism – seminar discusses responsible services”. The article not only informed about the event, but also drew attention to the relevance of the topic for local tourism companies. Indeed, today’s travelers are becoming more concern about the welfare of animal used in tourism. The article introduced some of the experts invited to participate in the one-day event. Among them were Vicki Brown fromResponsible Travel in the UK and Satu Raussi and Tiina Kauppinenfrom The Finnish Center for Animal Welfare.
Large tourism masses doesn’t lead to profit maximization
Nevertheless, during her visit, she realized that local companies felt some pressure to expand their operations. This was specially the case of husky farms which has experienced a growing demand for their services. In the interview, Vicki suggested that Lapland tourism actors should carefully reflect on which direction they would like to develop tourism. They should think about what kind of place they would like to have in five or ten years. As Vicki stressed, Mass tourism doesn’t necessary lead to profit maximization. The link above offers access to the entire interview (in Finnish).
What is good animal treatment?
Vicki Brown’s interview was accompanied by a short article about the two projects working on animal-based tourism in Lapland. For this purpose, our Researcher Mikko Äijälä was interviewed. Mikko drew attention to the communication challenge. As he stressed, animal welfare may be understood differently among different nationalities and so expectations about animal welfare related information may differ among visitors. He also pointed to the lack of attention given to animal welfare in existing tourism quality and environmental certifications. The article was also published on June 18 under the titled “What is good animal treatment? Lappish project discloses that the understanding of travelers differs widely”.
Soon we will publish a post offering an overview of the seminar presentations of the one-day event. So stay tuned!
In the article, we draw attention to the general discussion on the value of animals in society. This is a relevant topic in Finland where the Animal Welfare Act is just under revision. Indeed, one of the topics under discussion revolves around the recognition of the intrinsic value of animals – something that is not recognized in the current Finnish Animal Welfare Act. As we point out, this discussions is not only limited to farm animals, but also to pets and animals used in the leisure an tourism industries.
What is the value of animals in tourism?
For us, it is evident that animals in tourism have an instrumental value. As part of destination brands, tourism services, souvenirs and gastronomy, animals have a clear instrumental value. They helped generate revenues for tourism companies and entire destinations. Nevertheless, travelers may not see animals just in terms of having instrumental value. There is an increasing number of travelers that view animals as individuals with preferences, interests and rights. So travelers, as consumer, seem to recognize the intrinsic value of non-human animals. This is something that has been noticed by tourism companies such as TripAdvisor and TUI.
Although the law doesn’t recognize the intrinsic value of animals, tourism organizations should consider that their customers may recognize it. As a result, they should carefully think how they want to answer to their customer expectations. To get access to the whole article (in Finnish), just click on the English title above.
This post includes a short interview with Sveinn H. Guðmundsson – Elding’s Quality and Environmental Manager. I met Sveinn during my visit to Iceland in early May. We talked about responsible whale watching and the role of environmental certifications and labels in promoting it. In fact, Elding – adventures at sea follows EarthCheck and Blue Flag’s standards along with IceWhale’s guidelines. The company has also been strongly committed to the “Meet Us Don´t Eat Us” campaign which has aimed to take whale meat off the menu for tourists. As a joint project between IFAW(International Fund for Animal Welfare) and IceWhale (the Association of Icelandic Whale Watchers), the campaign “Meet Us Don´t Eat Us,” has been around since summer 2010.
Supporting research and responsible tourism practices
In addition to these standards and guidelines, Elding takes part in international cooperation on the future of whale watching. The company has also strong cooperation with marine biologists and wildlife researchers . Sveinn also mentioned that Elding is the first and only environmentally certified whale watching company in Iceland. According to Sveinn environmental certifications are an useful tool for managing Elding’s operations in a responsible way.
Elding also takes seriously its educational role in tourism. During the tours, Elding’s guides not only explain about the whales, but also how toutists themselves can support responsible tourism practices. For example, they make tourists aware that whale meat is not part of Icelandic traditional gastronomy. The campaign “Meet Us Don´t Eat Us,” has actually contributed to the decrease of whale meat among tourists.
During my visit to Iceland, I joined once more a whale watching tour with Elding. It was my second time. We were able to see minke whales, dolphins, puffins and other birds. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a shot of the minke whale. They were to fasts for me. Nevertheless, the dolphins stayed with us for a while.
Sveinn H. Guðmundsson will be one of the speakers in this year’sLapland Tourism Parliament. The event will take place in Rovaniemi at the University of Lapland on September 21-22, 2017. So you may have the possibility to meet Sveinn in person and share some thoughts with him.