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What makes sustainable indigenous tourism so unique?

Päivitetty: 20. marras 2017

There are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide from the Arctic to the South Pacific. Indigenous peoples are the descendants of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived. They are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have their own culture, language and customs that differ from those of the rest of society.


Indigenous tourism is commonly viewed as a means of facilitating socio-economic benefits to Indigenous individuals, communities and host regions. It gives Indigenous people the chance to tell their story in their way, to share cultural insights, traditional practices and contemporary concerns with international and national visitors. Indigenous peoples have inspiring stories to tell and can offer authentic, educational experiences that travelers are seeking.


Authenticity and real experiences are important to travelers. The travelers targeted by the sustainable indigenous tourism are people looking for unique, adventurous and authentic personal experiences on their holidays. They seek to have a deeper experience, meaningful encounters and understanding of the land they are visiting. Indigenous tours are good for families too as many parents wan to teach their children about indigenous cultures and nature experiences. Since the many indigenous peoples live in a close connection to the nature, the indigenous tours are often based on nature experiences guided by the native people.


Tourism indiustry is changing rapidly as more people are concerned about it's negative effects. For example, Uluru is an important sacred site to Anangu (an Indigenous people in central Australia) in Australia, and it has come to symbolize the struggle indigenous rights. About 250,000 people visit Uluru every year, in which about 20% have wishes to climb on it. Travelers have been adviced not to climb on the rock, but many tourists continued to climb on a daily basis. What visitors call ‘the climb’ is of great spiritual significance to the local Anangu. The climb is not prohibited, but the Anangu ask visitors to respect their wishes, culture and law by not climbing Uluru.


But lately we heard great news from Australia, as the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board of management has announced that tourists will be banned from climbing Uluru from 2019. This is a significant law which respects the cultural rights of the Anangu people, to whom the rock is sacred. Even though the rock itself will be closed, travelers can still explore and experience the Anangu culture in many ways such as taking part in guided walks around the Uluru base or listen to stories and learn about ancient bush skills and much more. There is always an alternative to travel and explore the world and cultures in responsible way and this is what sustainable indigenous tourism is all about and why we love it.


We think that sustainable indigenous tourism is a perfect way to explore the nature and to experience the fascinating and unique indigenous cultures. Australia, New-Zealand and Canada might be the most known destinations for sustainable indigenous tourism. But travelers can find unique tours amongst the indegenous people in many other countries too.


Sustainable indigenous tourism in Lapland


Travelers can join sustainable indigenous tours also in Europe. The Sami people are the only indigenous people living in the European Union. They are one people, but they live in four countries in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and in the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They have been located in this region for over 7000 years and the area has been called Sapmi. Traditional Sami livelihoods are based on reindeer husbandry along with fishing, hunting and handicrafts. Nowadays reindeer herding as a main livelihood has fallen and for those who still practice reindeer herding tourism is an important part-time income.



Lapland offers many magical experiences and exciting adventures to travelers. While choosing the right experience for you, try to ensure that Sami tourist activities you take part in benefit the Sami themselves. Traditional activities that are based on the Sami culture can include reindeer experiences such as reindeer sledging or visiting a reindeer stock, for example. Snowmobiles are important way of transportation for the Sami, therefore many snowmobile safaris on the Arctic nature are also operated by the Sami. Other traditional activities include ice-fishing and hunting. Husky excursions are not part of traditional Sami culture.


You can also take part in Sami people's festivals or visit traditional winter markets where you can experience the Sami people's traditions, food and crafts with the locals. It is just an adventure and experience in itself. If you are interested in Sami festivals in Lapland, you can find our previous article on unique festivals to explore the Sami culture here


If you want to support sustainable indigenous tourism in the Arctic Circle here are some tips. For example, Visit Natives offers a unique opportunity to discover, explore and interact with Sami culture and to live contemporary Sami experience. All the tours are planned and provided by the Sami people themselves. Travelers can spend a day or more as a reindeer herder in Tundra, learn to throw a lasso, or to join the Sami people’s annual reindeer spring migration. Travelers can experience the Sami way of life in the Arctic wilderness in Norway, Finland and Sweden.


Would you like to take part in sustainable indigenous tours on your next holiday? What is on your bucket list?#sustainable#indigenous#tourism#arctic#lapland#sami#authentic

Photo: Ole Dahle

On this video you can have a look how traditional Sami reindeer migration look like. This kind of authentic and once in a lifetime experiences are possible with Visit Native´sustainable indigenous tours

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