The life of the Lapland reindeer is shaped by reindeer herding, which is based on the reindeer’s natural instincts to search for food. As a traditional livelihood, reindeer herding is associated with Sámi culture, the only truly indigenous culture in Europe. Nevertheless, in contrast to Norway and Sweden where the right of reindeer ownership is reserved to members of the Sámi community, in Finland non-Sámi can also own reindeer. Indeed, less than 20% of reindeer owners in Finland are Sámi. Although reindeer is a semi-wild animal that roam freely in the forests and fells of Lapland, every reindeer has an owner. If you look carefully, you will see that all reindeer have an earmark.
The Christmas magic
Reindeer are also integral to the magic of Christmas and the winter season. For many visitors just seeing these animals along the road or while walking through the forest in the snow is part of the Christmas experience. Indeed, meeting a reindeer can thus become a magical and unique experience. In a similar way, reindeer sledging and farm visits are also highly popular with tourists of all ages throughout the Christmas and winter season, especially if it’s part of a visit to see Santa himself. All in all, the reindeer is one of the icons of Lapland tourism – a place they certainly deserve.
Test your reindeer knowledge!
Now you have the possibility to test how much you know about the Lapland reindeer by playing the quiz card game below. Even if you don’t know much about reindeer, you may learn a lot by play the game. Just give a try and see what is your level. To see the answer just click on the picture and scroll down to the second page. You may probably have the potential to become reindeer herder. You never know!
How important is animal welfare communication in tourism?
Communicating about the welfare of animals working in tourism has become highly relevant at a time when consumers values are pushing towards more responsible consumption. A recent study that we conducted at the University of Lapland shows that 83% of tourists are concerned about the rights and treatment of animals in today’s society. At the same time, many tourists considered animal-based activities as an important reason for traveling to places like Lapland. Indeed, although many tourists feel that interaction with animals is an exciting experience, they are also concern about the treatment of animals in tourism. As a result, animal welfare is becoming a critical criterion used by tour operators to select their suppliers.
A guide for communicating animal welfare in tourism
Responsibility emphasizes the important role of communication in creating and maintaining transparent and open dialogues with customers and other stakeholders. We need such dialogues to foster ethical and socially responsible tourism practices. Therefore, we created a guide focusing on the ways of communicating and educating on animal welfare in tourism. The guide aims to help animal-based tourism companies evaluate and develop more comprehensive animal welfare communication strategies. It is also suitable for tour operators, DMOs and other business partners selling or promoting animal-based tourism services.
Although animal welfare communication is company-specific, there are questions that most companies struggle with. For instance, Which communication tools to use? What content to share in social media? Which information to put on the website? What information is relevant for the customers? Rather than being exhaustive, the guide offers some guidance on some of these crucial issues related to animal welfare communication. Furthermore, it helps companies increase the transparency of their operations and the visibility of the values shaping their animal welfare policies.
At its best, it provides a good starting point for an animal-based tourism company to reflect on their way of communicating their business philosophy and how they make it happen in practice. The guide is the outcome of our work in the project “Animals and responsible tourism: promoting business competitiveness through animal welfare”. The guide was written and assembled by Meike Witt from Exploring Iceland, Tarja Salmela and José-Carlos García-Rosell from the University of Lapland.