Action Area: Product Development
The relevance of product development for the strategic planning of tourism destinations is usually highlighted in most tourism strategies and action plans. Both the attractiveness and competitivness of touristic places are based on the ability of private and public organizaitons to collaboratively develop economically, socially and ecological sustainable tourism products. In the Barents Region, which can be categorized as a pheripheral destionation, product development represents a central instrument for promoting economic development, environmental quality and social wellbeing. Indeed, while product development has a direct impact on profitability, competitiveness, employment and tourist expendinture, it can also contribute to preserving traditional industries, local heritage and the natural environment of this northern European region. Due to the strategic nature of product development, it is clear that the development of tourism products cannot be done in isolation from - or wihtout the engagement of - the main tourism stakeholders of the Barents.
There is an extensive variety of attractive and competitive tourism products and services across the Barents Region. The strong market positions achieved by Finnish Lapland, Swedish Lapland and Northern Norway clearly demonstrate that the Barents as a tourism destionation has maintained sustained growth over the last decaeds.
- A high level of quality and safety prevails among tourism products and services offered in the Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish municipalities of the Barents Region.
- A wide varitety of major international and local events hosted throughout Barents municipalities on a regular basis.
- A vast diversity of tourism offerings, resorts, destinations, attractions and other facilities for both leisure and business travelers.
- Historical heritage, cultural diversity and natural resources have to a certain degree been used as core attributes of tourism offering.
- A large variety of different forms of tourism (e.g. nature-based, experience-based, adventure and work-related tourism).
- Highly developed winter tourism in Finland and Sweden.
- Highly developed summer tourism in Norway.
- Existing cross-border tourism products across the different national border of the Barents.
- Initiatives aiming to develop year-round tourism in different municipalities of the Barents.
- Currently implemented Finnish foresight tourism projects with direct implications for product development.
- Product development collaboration between tourism educational institutions and tourism organizations in the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian municipalities ot the Barents.
Challenges and Development Needs
Despite the achievements made in terms of product development, there are still some municipalities in the Barents whre tourism products are nonexistent or in need of enhancing existent products. There are also commonly shared product development gaps across the different municipalities of the Barents that need to be addressed.
- Absence of a common vision and goals guiding product development in the Barents.
- Absence of cultural tourism and heritage tourism products; meetings industry tourism still at an underveloped stage.
- Lack of private and public resources targeting tourism product development.
- Lack of harmonized quality and safety standards needed to support cross-border tourism product development in the Barents.
- Large variation in the level of quality and safety of tourism offerings in the Russian municipalities of the Barents.
- Lack of differentiation among the tourism products offered by the different municipalities of the Barents.
- Lack of cinsistency in the planning, implementation and commercialization of cross-border tourism products.
- Different levels of product development expertise across the different countries of the Barents.
- Different work cultures, business customs and practices among tourism stakeholders in the Barents; different ways understanding key tourism concepts (e.g. hospitality, sustainability, branding, nature-based, experiences).
- Different legal and environmental regulations across the Barents countries undermining cross-border tourism product development initiatives.