Action Area: Education and Knowledge
Tourism development and innovation highly depends on the ability to promote education and training that helps create, manage and share knowledge. Sound cooperation among educational, research, development, political and business organizations among others is a basic precondition for knowledge generation and dissemination.
Education and knowledge are important for stimulating creativity and new ways of thinking. The multicultural envinronment of the Barents Region offers favorable conditions for promoting such creativity and innovation. It is through multi-stakeholder processes expanding beyond the borders of a single state that new and more sustainable ways of thinking and practicing tourism business can be fostered.
Some countries in the Barents have already developed and consilidated practices for creating and sharing knowledge that is relevant to tourism organizations.
- The collection of data for statistical purposes. For example, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian tourism organizations and local goverments collect statistical informationin the field of tourism (e.g. room and bed places, overnight stays, tourist flow and economic development, among others) on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis.
- Initiatives that promote mutual knowledge-building between industry and academia. Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian educational institutions have succeeded in establishing collaborative working relations with public and private tourism organizations that contribute to developing tourism knowledge and expertise.
- Cutting-edge vocational and higher tourism education curricula in Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway.
- Establishment of the Barents Cross-Border University (BCBU) as an entity aiming to develop and coordinate joint educational programs in the fields of socioloy, engineering, health and law.
- Existing student and staff exchange programs providing opportunities to educators, researchers and students to visit university campuses in the Barents (e.g. north2north, FIRST program).
- Establishment of the Barents Journal that aims to publish peer-reviewed scientific articles with a focus on the Barents Region.
Challenges and Development Needs
While the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian areas of the Barents have been succesful in developing some practices for the promotion of knowledge, the situation is different on the Russian side. At the same time, there is still commonly shared needs among all the Barents countries that have not been addressend yet.
- Lack of knowledge about potential target markets and customer needs, expectations and preferences.
- Lack of skills and proper training for forecasting market trends and identifying emerging issues, events and signs about futurechanges att the local, regional, national and global level.
- Poor skills and knowledge in information technology, e-commerce and tourism marketing.
- Necessity to improve knowledge about law and regulations applied within specific Barents countries, especially about legislations regulating commercial contracts.
- Lack of knowledge, sensitivity and awareness about the different cultures represented in the Barents Region.
- Poor linguistic competence among public and private tourism organizations in the Barents. Deficient skills in Barents languages and limited English proficiency. The latter tends to prevail in the Russian municipalities of the Barents.
- Underdeveloped Russian tourism education curricula and tourism related training programs.
- Need for training in safety and security among tourism organizations and resoirts in the Barents.