University teams help Scottish organisations and communities collaborate with partners in the Arctic

A sustainable tourism project focused on connecting locals and visitors with rural heritage, led by the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research (CRTR) at UHI North, West and Hebrides, is one of nine projects set to receive funding from the Scottish Government as part of the third annual round of the Arctic Connections Fund. CRTR will receive almost £10,000 for their role in the project.

CRTR and the University of Lapland have come together to take forward a project that will help small rural communities based in under-visited destinations promote local heritage for the benefit of both locals and visitors. Staff at both universities will work with community organisations in Ardgour in Scotland and the Upper Kemijoki River area in Finnish Lapland to create a series of audio trails celebrating local stories and landmarks. They will also gather local business information that could be incorporated into a larger tourism app. This will celebrate and promote the cultural and natural heritage of these destinations which are often overshadowed by more popular tourist attractions nearby.  It’s hoped that the audio trail will launch by the end of March 2024 and will include stories from the area chosen, curated and told by local residents. 

Kendra Turnbull, Project Officer at CRTR, and Ardgour resident, said: 

“Ardgour, in the Scottish Highlands, is sandwiched between Glencoe, Ben Nevis, the Glenfinnan viaduct and the Ardnamurchan peninsula, home to the most westerly point in mainland Britain. These more famous attractions often mean Ardgour is seen a through-route yet it is rich in its own natural and cultural heritage. To communities such as this and the partner Arctic community their heritage is no less important or meaningful. This project aims to help these smaller communities to safeguard and celebrate their heritage both for themselves and visitors to the area.” 

Monika Lüthje, Senior Lecturer in Tourism Research at the University of Lapland, said: 

“The project complements in an excellent way the ongoing local tourism development initiatives in the Upper Kemijoki River area in Finnish Lapland. It provides the local communities with new knowledge and tools they can utilise also after the project. We appreciate the possibility to strengthen links with Scotland with which we share many challenges and opportunities.”  

The Arctic Connections Fund was set up in 2021 to help Scottish organisations and communities work with partners in the Arctic. It is designed to promote the exchange of expertise on shared issues and raise awareness of common ambitions. 

This year, nine projects will receive a share of £83,276, with £10,000 being the maximum given to any individual project. 

Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson said:  

"Scotland is one of the Arctic’s closest neighbours; we share many outlooks and characteristics. That’s why we continue to promote Scotland as the international partner of choice for our Arctic neighbours, opening new opportunities for bilateral and multilateral collaboration for mutual benefit.  

“The Arctic Connections Fund supports knowledge exchange and cooperation between Scotland-based organisations and their Arctic counterparts while also encouraging future opportunities for collaboration." 

Further information: Dr Katie Murray, CRTR  01847 889000