Wednesday October 27, 2021

Lapland University to hold 3-day winter tourism conference from Apr 3

Published : 12 Mar 2017, 17:31

  DF Report

DF Photo

The University of Lapland will host “Future of Winter Tourism” – a three-day scientific conference aimed at promoting tourism in the winter from April 3.

Researchers from different countries including Andorra, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Russia and Turkey are expected to take part in the conference and detail out the threats to winter tourism, the organisers said.

“The largest groups of delegates will come from Austria and Finland. The list of countries shows that experts in snow-based winter tourism will gather together in the event to discuss and evaluate the future challenges and opportunities of winter tourism,” said Professor Markku Vieru from the university’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Multidimensional Tourism Institute (MTI).

Fifteen scientific papers, in addition to the keynote papers, will be presented at the programme, said Vieru.

The main travel motivation of the winter tourists in the Nordic countries known as the “Winter Wonderland" is snow-based winter sport activities.

However, more recently, snow-based winter tourism is under pressure from many directions.

Downhill skiing has entered a phase of stagnation in many countries. The typical form of downhill skiing has become older. Generally, leisure preferences have become biased towards city tourism or other types of snow-based activities, such as snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering, and backcountry skiing.

Global warming also threatens the traditional winter resorts, especially in low elevation and low latitude areas. However, heavy investments are still being made in snow-making facilities from the hope that if there is snow there will be customers.

What does research say about this? Despite the growing literature, little is known about the climate change impacts, vulnerability, and the role and effects of adaptation and mitigation measures.

The first workshop of the “Future of Winter Tourism” aims to provide a platform for experienced scholars in tourism and related fields including geography, business, environmental economics, and regional economics.

Markku Vieru said the workshop will help winter tourism in the region but it has broader aspects than mere local goals.

“It should increase the understanding that winter tourism industries can sustain their competitive advantages, if they adapt themselves to the effects of climate change, changes in visitors' behaviours and interests etc. I think we do not understand completely the ultimate impacts of the climate change,” said the professor, adding that on one hand there is lack of snow and on the other pollution and contamination in some regions have caused serious public health problems: we already have environmental or climate change refugees.

“Winter tourism destinations can ‘benefit’ from the serious ‘mistakes’ done elsewhere but they are exposed also to strategic mistakes by themselves. Thus, the conference provides knowledge for the participants and prevent winter tourism destinations from repeating old mistakes,” Markku Vieru added.

The winter tourism destinations can adapt to changes in multiple ways: it can for example be planned or emergent. The management of the winter tourism destinations has several key players and the management can either centralized or de-centralised. It is important to understand their dynamics and efficiencies.

This winter has clearly highlighted to the people in Lapland and elsewhere how volatile and unpredictable tourist flow can be.

The Finnish statistical office has reported a two-digit growth in the number of visitors in Lapland. In some destinations, the growth has been more than 40 per cent compared to that in the previous season. Currently winter is the high tourist season in Lapland. In the 1960's it had been just the opposite: the summer was the high season.