What is ethically sustainable Sámi tourism?

    • Ethically sustainable Sámi tourism contributes to the vitality of local Sámi communities and Sámi culture.
    • Ethically sustainable Sámi tourism needs a living and healthy culture for its basis.
    • Visitors can have positive impact on region’s future by choosing ethically sustainable services and products and, thus enabling all this beauty and richness to remain to be liveable and experienceable for future generations.
    • In ethically sustainable Sámi tourism, only economic sustainability is important.

    Each leg of the reindeer calf represents one element of sustainability and carrying capacity. The left foreleg symbolises the social dimension of the living cultural landscape where the reindeer calf lives. The social dimension ensures the physical and mental wellbeing of the local community. The right foreleg embodies cultural dimension, and its natural intergenerational transmission from yesterday via today to tomorrow. The left hind leg stands for ecological dimension in the form of preservation of vitally important biodiversity. The right hind leg represents economical dimension for continued viability of local communities. For the calf to have a safe path in the Arctic cultural landscape from today to future, all its legs need to stay unharmed.

    Touristic utilisation of Sámi culture and tourism taking place in Sámi Homeland is not sustainable if even one of the elements of sustainable development or carrying capacities is not met. If even one of the calf’s legs is missing or injured, the future of the calf’s survival in the nature is compromised, both today and tomorrow.


    What does domestic privacy mean in practice?

    • Local people’s homes and the immediate surrounding areas exist for the visitors to explore and photograph.
    • Local people’s domestic privacy includes the reindeer fences near houses. Visitors are not allowed to approach the fences without permission of the owner.
    • Visitors can enter local yards freely as they are not fenced or entry has not been specifically prohibited.
    • Avoid disturbing the part of local population who is not involved in tourism. Move about among local people only when you are healthy in order not to bring them unwanted souvenirs, that is, virus or bacteria from your country of residence.

    Please, take into consideration that you are visiting local people’s home. Please, respect their domestic privacy. Treat the people and the surrounding environment at your travel destination as you wish visitors coming to your home to treat your own domestic privacy and your home environment.

    The health, wellbeing and the feeling of security of the local people, especially the ones who belong to different risk groups, is utterly important. In Sámi society, the elderly people are extremely valued cultural and linguistic bearers. The significant number of elderly Sámi live in Sámi Homeland.


    How to spend your recreation time outdoors in Sámi Homeland?

    • What may be “wilderness” for visitors, is home for the local Sámi people, and for many, also a source of livelihood or subsistence economy. Responsible visitors take this into consideration when roaming the outdoors.
    • In the untouched wilderness, there are no local activities or culture that should be taken into consideration. Therefore, all kinds of activities are allowed as there is nothing but space in the wilderness.
    • In the Sámi worldview, people, nature and language are not seen as separate entities. Visitors treat the living cultural landscape and all its living creatures with respect and consideration, and leave no trace.
    • In the vast uninhabited regions of the North, the pets may also roam freely, unleashed.

    What may be “wilderness” for visitors, is home for the local Sámi people, and for many, also a source of livelihood or subsistence economy unconnected to tourism. While there may be no visible signs of human presence in nature, there is not a single place or area in Sámi Homeland that does not have a Sámi name and that has no cultural use and significance related to a season. Treat the living cultural landscape and all its living creatures with respect and consideration. Leave no trace. The obligation to keep pets on leash is established in Hunting and Public Order Acts.


    How to encounter a person wearing Sámi dress?

    • Funerals are organised for tourists for them to photograph Sámi dresses.
    • Religious events are personal occasions. Visitors respect people’s privacy.
    • Local people wear Sámi dress for the joy of tourists and for the purpose of being photographed in them. Therefore, visitors have always cameras ready to be able to shoot anyone from cradle to grave.
    • To photograph local people, ask always for a permisson beforehand. A hesitant answer means no. Photographing children is prohibited without their parents’ permission.

    It is important that local communities’ everyday life and festivities are respected by encountering the locals as human beings, not as objects or exhibits. Local people do not wear Sámi dress for the visitors to photograph them. Please remember that there is a human being inside that dress who does not necessarily want to end up in strangers’ home albums or social media.


    What does culturally safe tourism mean in Sámi Homeland?

    • In culturally safe destination, visitors respect and take into consideraton the fact that they are visiting someone else’s home.
    • Cultural safety in tourism enables the Sámi to provide a cultural experience that is based on their own culture and worldviews.
    • Culturally safe visitors do not stereotype or objectify local people.
    • In culturally safe Sámi tourism, the destination’s local community’s reality and truth may differ greatly from visitors’ preconceptions of primitive and mystified “noble savages”. However, visitors appreciate the truthful presentation even though it may challenge their prior way of thinking.

    Culturally safe Sámi tourism means, that the Sámi involved in tourism may, with equity, make known their own story that represents their culture according to their own worldviews. In culturally safe Sámi tourism, local community’s reality and truth may differ greatly from visitors’ preconceptions about the Sámi. Culturally safe visitors do not objectify local people. In culturally safe tourism destination, the local community may practise their culture without being a target of visitors’ gaze or cameras, or being treated as a prop or background in their own living cultural landscape. In culturally safe tourism destination, the visitors take into consideration and respect the fact that they are visiting someone else’s home, a place where the locals’ everyday life happens, undisturbed.


    Is everything that appears to be part of Sámi culture in tourism actually authentic?

    • If one has heard someone mentioning the Sámi even once, that is enough for them to commercialise Sámi culture and play Sámi in tourism. The visitors won’t understand the difference.
    • Visitors do have a chance to have a positive impact on wellbeing of local community and their culture by choosing responsible and ethically sustainable Sámi services and products.
    • How wonderful that religious traditions have been commersialised for the joy and entertainment of visitors. #samishaman.
    • Traditionally, Sámi have used dogsleds as form of transportaion.

    The productisation and visibility of Sámi and Sámi culture in tourism must be based on what the Sámi community itself accepts as an authentic Sámi culture. Symbols of Sámi culture have been productised and represented in tourism exploiting Sámi culture in Finland for decades. For a long time, the productisation of Sámi culture has been both defined and executed by outsiders. In the worst cases, the incorrect, primitivised image of the Sámi, that is widespread in tourism exploiting Sámi culture, offends and objectifies the Sámi community. Responsible visitors may have a positive impact on the wellbeing of the destination by choosing responsible and ethically sustainable Sámi products and services.


    Is everything, that appears to be Sámi in tourism, truly commercialised with the consent of the Sámi?

    • Sámi words or names in tourism services or products mean that the service or product is automatically Sámi or made in collaboration with Sámi.
    • Inside the Sámi dress, there is a person who most often does not wear the dress for visitors, and especially not for their social media.
    • The everyday life and festivities of local communities are private matters. Visitors must not participate in these events without invitation.
    • To wear a ’four-winds hat’ signifies that one respects the Sámi. It does not matter what the Sámi think about the matter.

    The Sámi, Sámi culture and Sámi language are constantly visible in tourism as passive decorations and props, local colour, or as exotic and primitive objects removed from their cultural context. The Sámi and Sámi culture should have an active role in tourism that represents their own worldviews.

    Not all the people who wear the Sámi dress are employed by tourism industry. Responsible visitors respect their privacy and allow them to live their everyday life and festivities without negative effects of tourism.


    Which of these tourism activities belong to the authentic tourist landscape of Sámi Homeland?

    • Elephant rides
    • Camel safaris
    • Dog sled rides
    • None of the options

    Borrowed traditions are misappropriated from another culture and rooted in a foreign cultural landscape through, for example, the travel industry. Borrowed traditions are especially damaging when they are in conflict with a tradition that is an original and authentic part of the culture of the area. An example of a particularly damaging and culturally unsustainable borrowed tradition is touristic dog sledding. Especially in certain areas, this practice is in strong conflict with reindeer herding, one of the cornerstones of Sámi culture, causing direct or indirect damage to this traditional livelihood.


    How much do you know about the Sámi in Sámi Homeland?

    • In Finland, Sámiland covers the area of Sámi Homeland which includes the municipalities of Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki and the northern part of the municipality of Sodankylä, that is, the area around Vuotso village. Skolt Sámi Area is located in Inari Municipality.
    • Sámi live in lávvus, the traditional tents. These lávvu reservations are most often found at the outskirts of villages. They are a good place for visitors to stare at and photograph Sámi people.
    • In the Sámi worldview, people, nature and language are not seen as separate entities.
    • The Sámi way of life has adapted to the natural environment’s opportunities and limitations for millennia. Living culture is part of people’s everyday life and festivities at this very moment, adapting to time and place.

    In the Sámi worldview, people, nature and language are not seen as separate entities. For example, the Sámi language, stories, music and the most visible cultural symbols such as the Sámi dress and Sámi handicrafts are closely connected, among other things, with traditional Sámi livelihoods. Together they form an inseparable entity in which each element relies on the others in order to remain vital and, thus, enabling the preservation, development and transmission of Sámi culture to future generations. If one element of Sámi culture were to disappear, or if its area of activity were to be limited, this would have an immediate impact elsewhere.


    How to encounter freely grazing reindeer?

    • Visitors can get good photographs of reindeer when getting as close to it as possible, for example by skies, dog sledges or snowmobiles.
    • Reindeer loiter on and by roads simply because they want to end up on random strangers’ social media to get more likes.
    • Reindeer must be guaranteed of grazing peace. Visitors can get acquainted with reindeer only with their owner’s permission and guidance.
    • Our dog has never even hurt a fly. Therefore, it would never chase reindeer.

    Reindeer are owned by private persons. Freely roaming reindeer are timid animals that get scared easily. Keep a safe distance between you and the reindeer. In Finland, the Reindeer Act prohibits frightening the reindeer. Irrespective of its size, a dog not accustomed to reindeer, very easily starts chasing an escaping animal. This may possibly cause massive damage. Especially spring-winter and spring are critical times for reindeer herding as the female reindeer are pregnant. Do not frighten or chase the reindeer for a good photograph, especially not with your mobile phone.


    Are you culturally safe tourizzi?

    • Culturally safe tourizzi chases the Arctic legends, that is, the reindeer with their cameras for social media updates. Hence, even the followers then know how to treat these legendary animals.
    • Culturally safe tourist is not a paparazzi. Instead, they let the local people to live their everyday life and festivities in peace.
    • Culturally safe tourizzi photographs everything culture-related. And chases after if the target tries to escape.
    • Small villages are full of interesting houses that visitors can get a closer look at. It is a pity that the door is locked because there are reflections in pictures taken through windows.

    A tourizzi is a tourist who acts like a paparazzi by photographing everything that even slightly may possibly be connected to this strange, mystical, magical culture. If the targeted objects escape, this actually provides convenient practical exercise when chasing after them. A tourizzi can also be called an unwanted and uninvited guest who has no knowledge of how to respect or take the local people into consideration.

    Tourizzis are the opposite of responsible visitors who remember being guests at someone else’s home. Responsible visitors respect and take into consideration the life and culture-specific customs of local communities. Responsible visitors get to know the specific features of their destination before the trip and take them into consideration while at the destination.


    How to act responsibly in Sámi Homeland?

    • Sámi culture is rich and diverse. Get to know your destination with open and fresh mind and eyes. Forget the sterotypes and prejudice.
    • In all the places, where our deeds and footsteps reach and affect, we all share responsibility of our future together. Favour responsible Sámi services and products.
    • Treat the living cultural landscape and all its inhabitants with respect and consideration. Leave no trace.
    • It is important that local communities’ everyday life and festivities are respected by encountering the locals as human beings, not as objects or exhibits.

    The cornerstone of Sámi tourism is formed by the idea of productisation and representation of Sámi culture being based on a strong connection with and responsibility towards the Sámi community, families or siida concerned whose culture or traditionally inhabited lands or usufructuary areas are being utilised or represented in a tourism product. Visitors’ responsibility covers all places, where their deeds and footsteps reach and affect or may reach and affect. Responsible visitors get to know the specific features of their destination before the trip. Responsible visitors take into consideration and respect the customs and needs of the local population.


    0 correct: There is still some way to journey towards responsible behaviour that takes into consideration the local communities while travelling.

    By going through Sámi tourism visitor guidance and its supporting materials you can familiarise more closely with the ways of responsible and ethically sustainable Sámi tourism and tourism in Sámi Homeland in Finland. This complete Sámi tourism site guides you into considerate ways of visiting and appreciating the home environment of the Sámi and their culture.

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