Come to Greenland and slow down!

Greenland is a place that encourages you to take time and stop to say hello in the street, and this mentality fits well with the quiet pace of hiking, fishing, picking berries, and dog sledding which all make Greenland a suitable place for promoting slow tourism.

The essence of slowing down is a reason to come to Greenland, agreed the delegates who participated in a business development conference organised by Qaasuitsup Kommunia in Ilulissat this January.

This thought reflects trends of today: slowness is increasingly being promoted as an attractive reason to visit a destination. So how can the Greenland tourism industry tap into this growing phenomenon?

“In my job I have a fair amount of stress and activity, so holiday is a chance for me to unwind, to calm down, and breathe. I like to step away from the chaos, and slip into nature. I don’t like to disturb my surroundings, and I don’t like to be disturbed.”
- Wilderness Seeker

“You can get a feel for a culture in a short time, but if you want to really understand and learn the culture, you will have to stay there for a long time.”
- Globetrotter’

Values of slow adventure

The concept of slow adventure has been explored by many countries such as Scotland, Norway, and Finland, especially in places where there is a strong link between destinations and wilderness. This recent development is connected to such global trends as the slow life, sustainability and well-being, according to Dr José-Carlos García-Rosell, a lecturer at the Multidimensional Tourism Institute in Finland.

Slow adventure focuses on the journey more than the destination or microactivity. It mirrors the essence of the Scandinavian outdoor way of living. In Norwegian it is known as ‘friluftsliv’, a concept which holds time, dwelling, being in the outdoors along with the impact of place on self and body as important.

In Finnish Lapland, they are now witnessing how small villages are becoming interesting destinations by offering visitors a taste of their day-to-day life. A good example is the village of Salla with its slogan 'in the middle of nowhere' and products such as a 'nothing is happening week', proposes Garcia Rosell. Note this does not mean that there is nothing happening. Rather, in Salla one will not be distracted by noise but instead ‘only the sound of a bear snoring in its nest or the Northern Lights flaming in the sky’. Silence, the periphery, polar nights and everyday life are becoming essential ingredients for the development of attractive destinations.

How can the Greenlandic tourism industry consider this in product development?

Cater to a special type of adventure tourist

This is an opportunity for Greenland operators to cater to tourists who do not seek the adventure products packed with extreme adrenaline, but still yearn for unique, time-worthy and personal experiences with culture or nature.

One should keep in mind the desire by tourists to experience slowness and regeneration while on vacation, coupled with more attention to comfort in passage. Segments from Greenland’s segmentation model who may be interested include the ‘wilderness seeker’, ‘authenticity seeker’, or even ‘ethnophile’.

“One must stay in one place for hours so you give the landscape the possibility to enter you. The country can enter you and move something inside of you. Otherwise it is a flash.”
- Ethnophile

Remember that a product does not have to be fast or exciting in order to be attractive or considered ‘adventure’.

Product development

The Greenland tourism industry could consider the values of slow adventure in product development, remembering that a product does not have to be fast or exciting in order to be attractive or considered ‘adventure’. Furthermore, the concept of ‘slow life’ could be utilised, especially in the smaller villages.

The tourism industry could then focus on promoting or developing products consisting of what cultural or nature activities villagers participate in during times of slowness. Note here that slow is a flexible concept, and there is probably a lot happening at the local level when one investigates further. Slow tourism products connected with wellness and cultural immersion could be utilised to develop the shoulder season of Greenland.

Marketing and communication

These values could also be incorporated into marketing Greenland, as slow adventure draws upon emotional ties with well-being, sustainability and wholesomeness. The Big Arctic Five brand are ‘things you can do’ in Greenland, but the concepts of ‘Be A Pioneer’ should tug at the emotional heart strings, whether it is slow or fast adventure.

Internet connectivity

While we are slowly working towards increasing digital connectivity in Greenland and trying to improve wifi access across regions in Greenland, we could also consider communicating the benefits of the ‘digital detox’, as destination in Scotland and in the Caribbean have used as a marketing tactic. Use the disconnectivity as an advantage!

Want to know more? This idea proposition will be followed up with a case study in one of the next B2B newsletters!

  • The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) defines adventure tourism when a tour includes two of the following activities: culture, nature or physical activity. Slow tourism can very well fit into the adventure tourism mindset.
  • With careful thought, it can also fit nicely with Greenland’s Pioneering Nation brand: Positioned as a destination where resourceful locals can live modern lives while also valuing traditional ways of living, tourists are offered to experience diverse and contrasting Greenland of today.