Last year I was selected to be the representative of the University of Lapland in the 1st Korea Arctic Academy which was held in August 2015 in Busan, South Korea. The Korea Arctic Academy was a one-week program comprised of special lectures, seminars and field trips to enhance the in-depth understanding of Arctic issues. I learned a lot about Korea’s polar research, maritime industry and Arctic policy.

While I was preparing my presentation for the Academy about Arctic tourism, I realized that it was what I wanted to specialize in.

In Korea I learned to see the Arctic from a very different angle. I started to understand the opportunities the region offers but also the vulnerability it has. It really was an eyeopening experience, and because of it I am now finishing my Bachelor’s thesis about Arctic tourism, more precisely about the clean air tourism in Lapland. The aim of my study is to find out what kind of meanings Chinese tourists give to the clean air of Lapland. I am also interested in knowing how they define Arctic purity, and if air quality can be a motive for travelling.

 

My research and the experiences I have had during the past year have taught me how fragile and precious the Arctic is. I needed to go far to see close. And sometimes even we, the inhabitants of this region, might not understand the value of it. As one of the Chinese tourists I interviewed said, the Arctic region is a “paradise, a snow paradise.”

 

Originally published in UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2016