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After Visit Faroe Islands came to our attention in 2015, we have frequently highlighted its creativity and innovation as a best practice in the destination marketing space. As the topic of sustainable tourism continues to dominate the industry and the world at large, we continue to see destinations restrategising for the future. We caught up with Levi Hanssen, Content & Communications Manager at Visit Faroe Islands, to talk all things overtourism, voluntourism and preservolution, ahead of their talk at #DTTTGlobal later this year.

1. We are huge fans of the Faroe Islands unique marketing campaigns. Please can you tell us about the latest campaign - 'Closed for maintenance'?

More and more destinations are facing challenges related to an increase in tourists. The same applies to the Faroe Islands. Although the islands do not in any way suffer from overtourism, there are a few select locations that have felt the impact of more tourists in recent years. These places could do with a little tender loving care.

The impact on these popular attractions has also resulted in disgruntled locals voicing their concern about the impact to the environment. The importance of locals’ opinions about tourism cannot be underestimated. One of Visit Faroe Islands’ main barometers of success is that Faroe Islanders see value in tourism and want tourism to develop and grow.

The importance of locals’ opinions about tourism cannot be underestimated. 

Our ‘Closed for Maintenance, Open for Voluntourism’ campaign invited 100 volunteers from 25 countries to help villagers and farmers preserve and maintain 10 popular tourist sites.

The 1600 hours of volunteer work by our voluntourists made a real difference. Together with locals, voluntourists created walking paths in well-trodden areas, constructed viewpoints that help preserve nature and protect birdlife sanctuaries and erected signs that help with wayfinding.

In return for their help, voluntourists were offered accommodation and food for the three-night working period – and, in true Faroese style, a party at the end to celebrate the work that was accomplished.

2. Sustainable tourism is the key driver behind the latest tourism development strategy, 'Join the Preservolution'. Without giving too much away, please can you give us an overview of this strategy. 

Within the last few years, the Faroe Islands has developed from being small dots in the North Atlantic with little global awareness to a destination on the bucket list of travellers from all over the world.

Tourism is expected to continue its growth and eventually become a significant new economic engine for the Faroe Islands.

With this growth comes the responsibility to preserve our fragile nature and strengthen our distinctive culture. The joint sum of our nature, our distinct culture and our people is our most vital resource. It is our responsibility to preserve this resource; for us, our visitors and for future generations. 

The key to the preservation of our nature and culture, and to the prosperity of our tourism industry, lies in moving forward in the right direction. In early 2019, Visit Faroe Islands presented a new sustainable tourism development strategy, titled Join the Preservolution. It is an evolution and a solution, with preservation at its core. It’s a rallying call for those involved in tourism to help us reach our goal. To get there requires collaboration, joint initiatives and the right type of tourists.


3. Today, the Faroe Islands is not short of visitors. How challenging is it to continue growing as a destination whilst balancing ongoing sustainable tourism development and fulfilling the core brand values?

We believe there is still room for growth in tourism in the Faroe Islands. We still have relatively few tourists compared to other islands our size. But that growth must not come at all costs. It is imperative that we grow responsibly, taking our nature, our culture and our people into account. This aim is challenging, yet achievable. Our ‘Join the Preservolution’ strategy outlines how we think we can achieve that goal.


4. What are the fundamental elements to the 2025 vision?

The Preservolution strategy is built upon four strategic cornerstones that serve as a set of guiding principles towards 2025, formulated with the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals in mind:

  1. Quality over quantity
  2. Tourism for all of the Faroe Islands, all year round
  3. Knowledge and professionalisation
  4. A common legislative framework

I’ll get into the details in the presentation.

5. We can't wait to hear more insights at #DTTTGlobal. What can we expect from your talk?

A look back at the progress made in promoting the Faroe Islands as a travel destination and an insight into how we think tourism should develop in the Faroe Islands. I hope the talk will inspire those in attendance to think about marketing in creative ways and encourage them to join the Preservolution!

Discussion

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