Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Press release 26.06.2006

Metla initiates study on reconciling tourism work and traditional rural work

A new research project Reconciliation of Tourism Work and Traditional Rural Work, 2006–2008 is being initiated at the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla). The project is part of the “Tourism as work (2006-2009)“ master project coordinated by the University of Lapland and funded by the Academy of Finland, aiming to study tourism from the point of view of the changing working life.

The specific aim of the study is to clarify what it means for a person to transfer from rural work in primary production to employment in tourism. In what situations can those who have earned their living in agriculture, forestry or reindeer husbandry move to working in tourism or combine tourism with primary production? What does this change mean to communities and regional development?

The research group consists of researchers in economics, sociology, geography and tourism. The research is conducted at Metla as part of the doctoral thesis of Maria Hakkarainen, MaSocSc. Metla’s project leader responsible for this sub-project is Senior Researcher Seija Tuulentie, DSocSc. The master project is directed by Soile Veijola, Acting Professor of Cultural Studies of Tourism, University of Lapland.

For the practical implementation of this part of the study, the aim is to select three villages from Lapland, and at least one of them must be in the Sámi district. The idea is not to address only successful stories but instead, various types of situations will be examined from different angles: when the change is from primary production entirely or partly to tourism, or when the aim is to combine tourism with previous sources of income. Researchers will collect information through interviews, observation, statistical analysis, and other methods. To some extent, the aim is also to use action research to activate and support entrepreneurship.

Suitable villages for study are currently being sought. The villages chosen should have people who still work within primary production, but there should also be activities related to tourism or at least plans related to tourism. Cooperation and interaction between the researchers and the villagers is important. The purpose of the research is to produce information to support decision making by individuals or families who are considering moving from primary production to tourism. The scope of application of the results will not be limited to the target villages. The work will include inspection of regional tourism strategy and its comparison with actual situations in the villages.

In addition to Metla’s research share, other sub-projects concentrate on clarifying the significance of gender and cultural skills of employees in tourism. Collaboration with Norwegian, British, and Italian researchers will link the project to research being conducted elsewhere in Europe. The first international meeting between researchers was held in May 2006 at Kilpisjärvi.

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