Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 299

299 Arctic Yearbook 2014 Current challenges for developing tourism in Finnish Lapland relate to accessibility and seasonality. The biggest challenge is formed by weak flight connections, low numbers of airlines operating in Lapland and the threat of closing airports in Lapland (Kyyrä ed. 2013; Strategy for Lapland 20112014). In addition, railway traffic needs development as well. Coping with seasonality is one of the most public issues – beside accessibility – in the tourism industry and the development of a summer season has been stressed in Lapland. Lapland can provide a special tempo and a special way of being in the world that is difficult to reach in hectic urban life – it is development of this aspect that could benefit developing summer tourism in Finnish Lapland (Rantala & Valtonen 2014). International tourists form the main target group for future tourism in Finnish Lapland. Responsible tourism development is based on clean nature and safety and organized through four main thematic areas: well-being (e.g. services related to sauna and clean water), culture (e.g. relationship with nature, local narratives), summer (e.g. non-motorized nature activities) and winter (e.g. ice and snow technologies, northern lights, Christmas tourism) (Ministry of Employment and the Economy 2014). Russia The official number of tourist arrivals to the northern regions of Russia are unavailable, but according to Tzekina (2014) they can be estimated at roughly 500,000 visitors annually. The Murmansk Oblast and Chukotka autonomous Okrug act as entry points from the West and East respectively, into the vast territory of the Russian Arctic and thus may enjoy somewhat higher number of tourists. Common for the tourist entrepreneurs of these regions is an informal network of contacts with local society and authorities providing support in terms of permits, development grants, start-up capital, private accommodation, guiding, etc. Recently, many advances have been made in terms of the variety of tourism experiences offered to the customers, and improvements in the hospitality sector, primary infrastructure such as hotels and restaurants. As a result of the increased attention on the Arctic, the number of bed nights in the region has grown. Tourism offerings do not vary considerably across the territory and are primarily confined to hunting and fishing trips, ethnographic tours based on the traditions and culture of the indigenous people of the area, adventure tourism (including snowmobile safaris, white-water rafting, hiking and trekking). More recently, event tourism began to develop based on shorter (one or two days) celebrations of various kinds or sporting competitions. The vitality of most of the events is questionable, but some of them have started to become larger and are able to attract considerable local attention even during the summer months, on the territory of Nenets Autonomous Okrug or Komi Republic. Cruise ship tourism is still rather limited and only includes areas of the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblasts in the west and Chukotka autonomous Okrug in the east. With this is mind it is Russian ports that are the only access points currently available for cruises to the North Pole. Regional administrations of several regions have started to turn their attention towards tourism and are now supporting various programs concerning the overall destination development; however, the results vary considerably across the region. Leaders in this process are the governments of the Maher, Gelter, Hillmer-Pegram, Hovgaard, Hull, Jóhannesson, Karlsdóttir, Rantala, & Pashkevich