Edited by Olli Tiuraniemi and Sari Väyrynen. Translated by Richard Foley.

Seven theses on working in the tourism sector

The people working in the tourist industry should be elevated to its factors of success, claim researchers at the University of Lapland and the Rovaniemi unit of the Finnish Forestry Research Institute.

A multidisciplinary research group has looked into the societal dimensions of work in the tourism sector as well as the practices and skills required in that work. Their study shows that the sector has started putting greater emphasis on performance and experience than on know-how and professional identity, which have been key factors traditionally.

“Differences between tourist destinations also emerge depending on the type of people and personalities working in the sector and what they can do. Could the next era in the development of tourism perhaps be based on the workers rather than on customer-centredness and experience?”, the researchers ask, and present seven theses about work in tourism:

  1. The knowledge and skills of those working in the sector are not put to optimum use in developing it.
  2. National and regional tourism strategies must take into account society at large and consider alternative futures alongside assumptions of growth in tourism.
  3. Tourist resorts do not always spread wellbeing into remote villages in Finnish Lapland.
  4. Ensuring the safety of travellers in nature is demanding work that requires a spectrum of professional skills.
  5. The reputation of tourism as an underpaid women’s service profession blurs its central role as an area that mirrors modern working life.
  6. University-level education in tourism benefits not only sustainable development of the sector but of society at large.
  7. Statistics on work in the tourist industry must be developed and systematised to support regional growth, the business community and research.

Wellbeing for schoolchildren

For a number of years now, the Faculty of Education has engaged in research and extensive cooperation with the schools geared to improving the psychosocial wellbeing of pupils and thus offering them a brighter future. Particular efforts have been made to take into account the distinctive features of northern schools, as well as local conditions and the local culture.

“Where pupils’ wellbeing is concerned, it is essential that they feel their social environment is giving them enough support”, says researcher Arto K. Ahonen.

“One way this feeling can be reinforced is to increase the amount of art and experiential learning in the curriculum. It is these elements that can have a positive impact on what and how pupils think about themselves and their health”, Ahonen points out.

The Faculty is currently working closely with the schools on methods to improve boys’ satisfaction with and motivation for school, as well as their school performance. Boys are faring worse than girls in school in rural areas throughout Europe, and the gap between the genders is wider than average in the North. The new methods would reduce inequality between the genders and between regions, and serve to prevent social exclusion.

“Various activity- and practically oriented teaching and learning methods support learning for boys. We are also looking for ways to strengthen a sense of community, improve working in groups and broaden the array of hobbies that interest boys”, Ahonen notes.


Sustainable development to reach space

“The principle of sustainable development should be adopted on a broad scale in space activities, as it has been elsewhere. Otherwise, we run a risk – at least in the worst-case scenario – that a dense zone of space debris surrounding our planet will prevent all future space activities”, stresses Professor Lotta Viikari, director of the Institute of Air and Space Law at the University of Lapland.

Professor Viikari has done research on the legal means for preventing and mitigating the environmental threats posed by space activities.

According to Viikari, the international treaties and other legal means to regulate space activities are rather ineffective as they stand. The UN treaties on space activities date from the 1960s and 1970s, an era when no one had the presence of mind to anticipate the environmental problems caused by space activities.

“The exploitation of space has grown rapidly in recent decades and the environmental hazards have kept pace. States have very little to show for their efforts to prevent environmental hazards through international regulation.”

Viikari recommends more extensive use of environmental impact assessment procedures in space activities, as well as the “polluter pays” and the precautionary principles.

“Because it is virtually impossible to remove the space debris that is already up there, the emphasis should be on preventing the creation of more debris. One option would be the use of various economic policy instruments to encourage environmentally friendly practices”, Viikari suggests.
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