People spend more time near water – the growth of coastal and maritime tourism requires new perspectives in skills development
Coastal and marine areas are of great importance as a place for people to spend their free time and travel. They provide a framework for memorable experiences and activities. They have also long been a part of the local lifestyle.
With the corona pandemic, the importance of coastal and marine areas in tourism, leisure and recreation has increased. People are spending more time near water and they value more coastal and marine areas as a source of well-being. This provides tourism businesses with an opportunity for business growth.
New skills are needed to face and adapt to this change. The growth of coastal and maritime tourism requires companies to have expertise that combines business expertise with an understanding of the unique features of coastal and marine areas and the business opportunities they offer.
Entrepreneurs working along these areas need to understand their distinctiveness and the resources they provide to be able to develop authentic and multi-sensory experiences. The natural and cultural heritage such as the archipelago landscape, coastal and marine wildlife, national parks, underwater nature and the history of shipbuilding, seafaring and fishing are the building blocks of product development. It is also necessary to understand the well-being effects of coastal and marine areas as well as water and to develop different activities around these.
When operating in coastal and marine areas, it is important to take into account customer Safety and related risks. Operations are also affected by legislation, which sets conditions for entrepreneurs. In addition, the importance of co-operation between different actors is emphasised, as there are many different interests in the use of these areas. As the market changes, so does the importance of expertise related to identifying and reaching customers, especially digital marketing skills need to be constantly updated.
As with other types of tourism, sustainable values, responsible choices and environmental awareness are key words in tourism development. These also strongly include taking into account locals and locality as well as reducing seasonality. In addition, it is important for tourism entrepreneurs to communicate their sustainable and responsible operations.
– It is important to leave the smallest possible ecological footprint and to respect the locality in all choices, emphasises Jenni Nurmi from Krookan Plassi, Merikarvia.
– At the same time, it is important to educate and guide customers about sustainability so that they can understand the importance of sustainability, Nurmi continues.
The skills required for coastal and maritime tourism were mapped in the spring of 2021 in the international Erasmus + Skills4CMT project coordinated by Satakunta University of Applied Sciences. The study implemented simultaneously in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, the Netherlands and Ireland. The results from all countries will be combined and later converted into a European coastal and maritime tourism curriculum.