Tourism business employs a lot of people and thus provides income and welfare. This is very important especially in sparsely populated areas, where tourism is sometimes the only developing source of livelihood.
The Working Group on Tourism (earlier JWGT) was established to develop tourism business in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region and to promote ecologically, socially and culturally sustainable tourism. In practice, this means promoting multilateral co-operation and joint projects, networking and exchanging information and best practices.
The Working Group on Tourism works on both national and regional levels. The national level provides information on the current state policy in this sphere, on the plans and programmes, on national legislation and amendments. The regional level implements the co-operation in practice.
The objectives of the WGT:
- to increase international awareness of and interest in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region (BEAR) and thus promote incoming tourism to the area
- to promote entrepreneurship and employment in the field of tourism in order to increase tourism revenue in the BEAR
- to promote development and realization of cross-border tourism projects
- to improve preconditions for tourism development in the BEAR e.g. by improving accessibility (flight and railway traffic), developing all year round tourism and developing border crossing formalities
- to maintain the unique tourism attractions of the BEAR by promoting sustainable tourism development and by adapting to the challenges caused by climate change
- to build, develop, promote and market authentic high quality joint products based on the local cultures and traditions of the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, e.g. the cultures and traditions of the indigenous peoples
- to co-operate in the fields of tourism education and research in order to recognize and spread good practices
The Multidimensional Tourism Institute, Finland conducted a study on tourism quality and sustainability programmes, labels and criteria in the Barents region. The study was financed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (The Baltic Sea, Barents and Arctic region instrument) and is published here.