At the end of last winter season I had the privilege to host a nice young couple from Holland, Shelly and Bart. Purpose of the trip was Shelly´s graduation thesis, she was studying tourism in Haarlem in the Netherlands at that moment and wanted to do a community based tourism related product development research abroad. So she contacted me and asked if it would be possible to do it here in Hossa, I said yes so she ended up arriving here with her boyfriend in the end of March and I helped her out with this project, or she helped me one could say!
The idea was to figure out and study how locality could be brought forward more in a travel product. To create a product that supports small local businesses, helps keeping this remote village vibrant and allows local people to be able to live here in the backwoods close to nature. A tour that provides travelers with a reasonably priced trip with a chance to truly dive beneath the surface and learn about nature and local way of life, participate in the most enjoyable outdoor activities, taste wild local flavors and experience the authentic Finnish cabin life by staying in a rustic off-grid farmhouse surrounded by wilderness.
We both thought that there sure is a need for these kind of tours as the travel industry grows, people travel more and the products are increasingly created and carried out on an assembly line -principle. Activities are produced on “stupid tourists will pay for this” -attitude and guides tell the same exterior-learned phrases to every group – all this happens on the expense of the authenticity of the experience and makes travelling just another disposable consumer product that doesn´t even leave a special memory trace.
One aspect that we felt was important was that how can you satisfy the wanderlust and the desire for adventure of modern people who live in a hectic, rapidly changing world where there´s a demand for being constantly reachable, who have all the modern comforts and gadgets, who have seen a lot of places and done a lot things already (Finland usually isn´t the first travel destination one goes to)? Answer is by taking people back to basics for a while, exposed to natural surroundings with no noise pollution, meeting local people and learning about the culture one doesn´t know much about. However, isn´t learning new things about yourself / the world and getting a breakaway from the daily realities back home the whole purpose of travelling?
So we did all the outdoor activities together, interviewed the local entrepreneurs and my former customers about their ideas, attitude, experiences and wishes towards tourism/tours in Hossa and finally tailored a week lasting multi-activity holiday that is found on the website. Big thanks for this project goes to these local businesses: (all of which are rather small, mostly family run) Experience KL, Hossa reindeer park, Siirtolan kelomökit, Loma-Hossa and Erä-Hossa.
It was a real pleasure and honor to reflect on these things and values with someone who´s studying the same industry, has the latest info taught in school and comes from a different culture than you. I was really happy with the result we ended up with and the whole thing just got me even more excited about my mission: bringing authenticity back to travel and being able to provide memorable travel experiences in my home region. We had a really instructive two weeks together and what was even better, I had the chance to go for a return visit to Holland in the beginning of June! But that´s another story… 🙂
Here´s a short video of our great time together, gratitude for this belongs to Bart.