Press release

A 3-year Cross-border project will renew tourism business in Arctic Europe

The cross-border co-operation in Arctic Europe region continues

The Arctic Europe Tourism Cluster (AETC) project, funded by Interreg Aurora, marks a new chapter in the collaboration between Northern Norway, Northern Finland and Northern Sweden, building on the successes of the prior Visit Arctic Europe and Visit Arctic Europe II projects. Arctic Europe Tourism Cluster now directs its efforts towards establishing a resilient network for sustainable, year-round tourism in the arctic region with a special focus on preserving the vibrant heritage of arctic culture.

The project partners, including Finnish Lapland Tourist Board, Northern Norway Tourist Board and Swedish Lapland Visitors Board intend to transform the co-operation in the area built in previous Visit Arctic Europe projects to a cluster that will improve the receiving capacity of the region. Renewal of tourism is needed now more than ever because of rapid changes in customer profiles and behavior, a need to increase sustainability (social, economic and ecological), fast digital development and an understanding of the need to increase resilience for future changes. The project partners appreciate that Interreg Aurora and other financiers have recognized the significance of the project content and allocated financing to it.

The overall objective of the project is to renew arctic tourism in the region to better meet future expectations and become more resilient and sustainable. The project aims to strengthen the role of arctic culture in tourism and develop year-round business, strengthen all aspects of sustainability and bring new digital knowledge and innovation to the use of tourism companies. Arctic Europe Tourism Cluster project also strives to enhance local economies as well as offering authentic and traditional cultural experiences for guests. Contributing to a better place to visit, work and live with local culture as a key driver, the new tourism cluster will develop products, offerings and attractions that will not only catch the eye of the visitor, but also benefit the arctic livelihoods.

During this three-year project, we will develop the region’s potential in year-round and sustainable tourism and the cluster will mature and strengthen in order to continue the development even long after the project ending, says Nina Forsell, project director for Arctic Europe Tourism Cluster and CEO Finnish Lapland Tourist Board.

The more than 100 companies and destination management companies from all three countries that participate in the project will have an active role in the project activities. They will for example participate in product development, upskilling and networking events, creating a “Care for the Arctic” code of conduct and testing new ways of marketing to both travel trade and consumers.

In terms of sustainability the project will take a regenerative approach, that represents a way of traveling and discovering new places that allows for visitors to have a positive impact on their destination, meaning they leave it in a better condition than when they arrived.

The effort goes beyond not causing damage or negatively affecting the destination, but actively revitalizing and improving – regenerating it, says Annika Fredriksson, CEO Swedish Lapland Visitors Board.

All stakeholders in the tourism value chain, including businesses, employees, communities and even travelers, will share the responsibility to preserve the local assets and enable the Arctic region as a whole to develop. During the project’s kick off-days in Kiruna in November, more than 100 project participants from all three countries gathered to take the first steps toward a whole new way of cooperation in the Arctic.

Arctic Europe Tourism Cluster will enable tourism companies to be more innovative, problem-solving, and strategic compared to what they could achieve on their own, concludes Trond Øverås, CEO Northern Norway Tourist Board.

Through this cluster and its strengthened receiving capacity, the aim is that the project’s results, benefits, goals, and effects will find their way towards a renewed, more resilient and regenerative tourism in the arctic society.

Project facts

Project partners:

  • Finnish Lapland Tourist Board
  • Northern Norway Tourist Board
  • Swedish Lapland Visitors Board

Financiers:

  • Interreg Aurora
  • Region Norrbotten
  • Regional Council of Lapland
  • Troms County
  • Finnmark County
  • Troms, Finnmark and Nordland county international program
  • Troms Holding
  • Innovation Norway Arctic
  • All participating companies

Project time:

From: August 1, 2023
To: July 31, 2026

Total budget:

4 150 950 eur

Project participants:

105

Target groups:

  • SME tourism companies in the Arctic Europe region

Work Packages:

  • Arctic culture and year-round development
  • Arctic sustainability
  • Arctic digital innovation

Images

AETC Project partners Nina Forsell, Annika Fredriksson and Trond Øverås signing the partnerhip agreement in Kiruna.

Finnish Lapland Tourist Board logo

Northern Norway Tourist Board logo

Swedish Lapland Visitors Board logo

Interreg Aurora + eu logo

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