Art and Cultural Tourism Gets People Talking in Finland and Russia
In September, the KareliaCBC programme project Karelian Art Residency Network and Art Tourism (KA3002) held its video conference titled “Art and Culture in Tourism: Challenges and Possibilities”. Attending the seminar in the audience was also the representation of the Museums in Focus: Development of Cultural Services to Chinese Tourists (KA9021) project within the same KareliaCBC programme, funded by the European Union, Finland and Russia.
Museums are intrinsically linked with art and cultural tourism, and as such museum actors are encouraged to actively participate in tourism networks related to these themes and join hands in developing attractive, unique products and branding for cultural travellers. Museums are not passive actors in their own bubble content with simply existing, rather they are active participants in the provision and design of cultural services to attract tourism to the region with different partners.
These days, museums are increasingly reaching out beyond their walls, designing interactive, digitaland educational content for the tourism market accessible even outside the exhibition rooms. From smaller to larger museum actors, branding, marketing and innovative service design are increasingly seen as lifelines to development goals.
The adverse situation for cultural tourism imposed by the coronavirus pandemic has nevertheless maintained a demand for development of cultural services. Indeed, the conference was opened by both Finnish and Russian partners of the KARAT -project with an affirmation that while international travel has understandably become limited, domestic travel has seen a boom in both territories, with select areas even becoming overbooked.
The seminar included many expert speakers from both sides of the border. Ekaterina Kulieva and Anastasia Pavlova presented the Sortavala Art Residence, its services, and importantly also explained the importance of the surrounding urban and natural environment in the success of the art residency. An attractive environment showcasing the area’s cultural heritage, traditions, art and nature is paramount, and is something the core regions of the KareliaCBC Programme are in no short supply of. The key is cooperation and the cross-fertilisation of cultural service design and tourism development to cultivate a strong presence in international and national tourism markets. This area is something where museums are no small actors in.
In the seminar, programme manager of VisitFinland Susanna Markkola gave a strong presentation about trends of cultural tourism and the profile and expectations of a cultural traveller. The CEO of Nordic Marketing Jan Badur on the other hand gave the audience insights on the German tourism market and how cultural tourism destinations may enter and remain in the large market. While some tendencies in the German tourism market are very similar to that of the Chinese tourism market which is the focus of the Museums in Focus (KA9021) -project, some tendencies are completely different.
It is important for museums to reflect on the different tourism segments and visitor profiles to develop a strategy to both attract and accommodate multiple forms of cultural tourism in cooperation with other attractions and industry actors. As Susanna Markkola explained, cooperation and networking is key: nobody travels because of one travel service, which is why even museums should seek to cooperate and formulate joint plans to both maintain presence in existing tourism markets and penetrate new ones.