Finland - Finnish Lapland
Tourism operators in Finnish Lapland see that the different areas in Barents have their own distinctive characteristics, Russia in particular. Thus, common identity for the Barents region could be rather hard to form naturally. The practitioners see that joint cross-border products and joint marketing efforts could be one opportunity for promoting tourism. Indigenous peoples, traditional livelihoods and exciting cultures of the Barents region could be emphasized as the original and distinguishable assets. Hunting, fishing and reindeer husbandry are also mentioned by the entrepreneurs as an appealing selling point for the region.
As there is a lack of accurate Barents knowledge among Finnish respondents, suggesting creation of a common brand name for the whole Barents region generates confusion. The Finnish operators perceive themselves easily as belonging to the Scandinavia and Lapland brand. Many respondents are interested in interregional marketing and the creation of a common brand name on a theoretical level. However, there are opinions both for and against and the operators are mutually puzzled on how to execute the idea in practice. To conclude, for the time being, it may be too complex an agenda for the region to take up such an engaging and laborious plan of creating a common Barents brand.
Despite the differences in cultures and nature of business-making, many Finnish respondents see potential in the cross-border cooperation. However, some state that the challenge is to fit all the interests and views together. It is also mentioned that the practitioners do not possess adequate resources for maintaining interregional operations. Some respondents are more skeptical about the added value of interregional cooperation, yet many see that the area is very interesting entity that has a potential to sell as a unified tourism destination. In case branding is to be taken further by the ongoing project, it could be beneficial to further investigate the opinions of the practitioners on the issue as there were no direct questions related to branding in the conducted interview.