News 2022

Finnish Foreign Trade Promotion Fund: Grant awarded to Miira Lehto, a student of tourism research at the University of Lapland


The Finnish Foreign Trade Promotion Fund (SUE), the University of Lapland, and the University of Eastern Finland signed a collaboration agreement in spring 2020 with an aim to support master’s theses that address the internationalisation or export of companies in Lapland and eastern Finland. Following the autumn 2021 application round, the grant was awarded to Miira Lehto’s thesis that explores the discourses of sustainable luxury in tourism.

In addition to traditional luxury, a new phenomenon of luxury has emerged with an emphasis for instance on experiencing, authenticity, and meaningfulness. Finland has not necessarily been considered a model of traditional luxury travel, but people have noticed that our country provides circumstances enabling new luxury tourism. The growing luxury sector is also increasingly getting intertwined with the values of sustainable development. Regardless of individual opinions of luxury, it is also constructed socially and collectively through various discourses.

– In my master’s thesis, I interview representatives of local tourism organisations in Lapland to find out their views on luxury tourism. I investigate the construction of the phenomenon of sustainable, new luxury in tourism, Miira Lehto states.

By investigating the formation of the phenomenon through discourses, it is possible to increase our understanding of the present state of luxury tourism in Lapland, the discourses that shape tourism, and the effect of local organisations on the formation of the phenomenon. As local organisations are important actors in their areas, they can strongly affect the construction of tourism and the local conceptions of the phenomenon.

The thesis focuses on views presented in the interviews about the guidelines of Visit Finland concerning Finnish luxury tourism in order to understand the phenomenon in a larger context by combining the local perspective and the national one. The study also maps the effect of the reachability of destinations on luxury travel in the sparsely-populated northern part of Finland.

The aim of the study is to increase our understanding of luxury as a social phenomenon and of the possibilities to develop luxury tourism in Lapland.

– The views of local organisations may provide a salient contribution to the development of a comprehensive luxury service network. The SUE grant is an apposite form of support for a theses that promotes an international business ecosystem, and I’m very grateful for it, Lehto notes.

The study is carried out in collaboration with the national FIT ME! project (Foreign Individual Traveller’s Hospitality and Mobility Ecosystem) that aims to create a service ecosystem supporting the mobility of individual travellers and thereby to develop the reachability of sparsely-populated regions and nature destinations.

SUE thesis grant application in spring

The spring application period opens again in May, and there will be a separate bulletin on the issue. Your thesis is to fulfil at least one of the following criteria:

  • It is related to the internationalisation or export of businesses in Lapland or eastern Finland.
  • It is related to the internationalisation or export of the Finnish business sector.
  • It is written in cooperation with one or several local businesses aiming for internationalisation OR in cooperation with a local actor promoting internationalisation (e.g. ELY or the chambers of commerce).

The SUE grant is an excellent form of support and an opportunity for thesis writers in all fields of science.

– I encourage all thesis writers from all our four faculties to submit an application for this grant. In fact, the SUE Board selecting the recipients hope to get a chance to support theses that are as diverse as possible and provide multidisciplinary views on international business from various fields of science, reminds Satu Uusiautti, the vice-rector for education.

Further information

Miira Lehto

Satu Uusiautti, Vice-Rector for Education