Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 296

296 Arctic Yearbook 2014 52,000 guests registered in 2012. A rough estimate would be that the economic turnover in 2011 from tourism was about €55 million, and it is expected to have grown slightly each year since. Generally speaking, tourism statistics are poor in the Faroes, but some efforts have been made recently to improve this (VisitFaroeIslands 2014). The Faroes have not yet been particularly good at “getting their share” of the large and growing global tourism business. The relative level of visitors is about the lowest in Europe and the capacity of guesthouses has been stalled since the 1980s. On the other hand, the quality of the hotels and the number of restaurants, especially in the capital Tórshavn has improved substantially in the last decade. As in many other cold island communities, tourism is seen as an important way to generate economic growth. Tourism is expected to grow significantly, and the important “Faroes Tourism Branch” has recently had a financial injection of funding, is newly reorganised, and has adopted a new tourism strategy, which by 2020 has the ambition to: (1) double the number of accommodations; (2) double the number of employees in the industry, and (3) increase the turnover from about €60 million today up to €125 million (VisitFaroeIslands 2014; www.visitfaroeislands.com). Faroese tourism has developed from the enthusiasm of many devoted single entrepreneurs, who have combined their devotion – for example to save an old sailing ship from destruction and thus create possibilities to earn income. It has also developed from public and public/private investment in the necessary infrastructure – an airline and a European ferry link. You could say that “the big players” have the job to get the tourists to the Faroes while the job of the “small players” is to “entertain them” when they are there (Hovgaard 2014). Current challenges and the future of Faroese tourism conveniently take their departure from the new tourism strategy. This new tourism strategy has its focus on “branding” and “external” relations. Although branding is extremely important, a larger increase in the number of tourists will also create a need for increased local viability, better “product” and “experience” experimentation and innovation (Sundbo 2014). Thus there is a need for investments, in social capital as well as other resources, which still seem to be institutionally under prioritized (Hovgaard 2014). There is also a need to balance the new strategy with wider planning issues, as doubling the number of tourists undoubtedly will put added pressure on local infrastructure, local culture and the environment in general. Simple questions like the social and cultural consequences of more tourists, for instance if people are willing to give up their “local way of life”, need to be addressed. There is a need to discuss such issues further, and find reasonable and balanced ways to proceed (Laursen 2014). Faroese nature is normally advertised as being “unspoiled”, yet there are parts that are already under stress, and therefore there is a need to combine environmental and tourism policy to manage further stress. One important factor in successful tourism development is to professionalize the business aspect, and research shows that local entrepreneurship, innovation, professionalization and further research are necessary preconditions to develop destinations and the experience economy in general (Sundbo 2014). Arctic Tourism