In Sweden, tourism stakeholders get reliable tourism statistics both on a monthly, quaternary and yearly basis. Swedish Lapland provides a monthly report on guest night statistics per destination and accommodation form and market. This makes it easy for stakeholders and entrepreneurs to compare their own development with the local and regional destination development and trends over time. In addition, the annual TEM-report (Tourist Economical Model – TuristEkonomiska Modellen for Norrbotten, Swedish Lapland) compares development and trends in Swedish Lapland to the overall development and trends in Sweden during the past year and trends over the last 14-15 years. These different reports give tourism stakeholders valuable and actual up to date data and prognosis for tourism development.
In a Barents perspective, it would be interesting to have a similar TEM-report for the Barents area to detect and react on regional and global trends. However, such Barents regional statistics require improved data collection methods, synchronization in data collection and qualified statistic analysis. An international common database would be valuable for national, regional and local tourism stakeholders in predicting market and segment trends in travel and tourism activities. Business intelligence and environmental analysis about competitors and potential business partners within the Barents Region are desired by entrepreneurs in Swedish Lapland. This lack of business information about the Barents area became obvious in the low knowledge level among Swedish entrepreneurs about competitors and potential partners in Barents. Furthermore, Swedish entrepreneurs have only a vague perception of the Barents region, and associate it mostly with Russia – not seeing themselves as part of it. Therefore specific training programs for Barents tourism awareness are needed for tourism stakeholders and operators. Also curricula in traditional tourism education on all levels need to address the Barents as a common tourism area with its touristic resources. As there are no national curricula for tourism education at any level, awareness of Barents tourism should be addressed to educators directly on all levels within tourism education programs. The public stakeholders in the Barents tourism development must take active responsibility to increase the awareness of the Barents as a destination among all tourism educators.
Additionally, the tourist entrepreneurs express a strong need for flexible and interactive training programmes in several fields concerning the Barents tourism such as cultural knowledge, business operators, business culture and languages. Opportunities to meet potential business partners as well as benchmarking the competitors are required. To enhance cross-border business and cooperation, a major obstacle was the lack of a common language as many tourism operators in Finland and Russia are seen to have limited English language skills. Also, an understanding of different business customs is needed in order to facilitate cross-border cooperation. Many entrepreneurs also need training in information technology and e-commerce, as well as marketing and management skills. Need in staff training in service quality, hospitality and hostmanship as well as experience production is also expressed. Larger tourism operators usually have internal educational programs, but an overall need for flexible, easily accessible and practice-oriented training is expressed. The generally weak interest in interregional Barents cooperation among the tourism entrepreneurs is, in many cases, a result of a lack of knowledge about the Barents Region – even of the adjacent countries such as Norway and Finland.
The Swedish tourism operators and other stakeholders are rather knowledgeable of the markets and segments the national and regional marketing is focused on. Also the reports give information about where the international markets are and which market segments visit Sweden. Still, cultural information on demands, habits, and service expectations for the different markets are in strong need.