How I became a tourism student

I am Kashish and I am a migrate student from India, currently I am pursuing my study in tourism at Satakunta University of Applied Science, Pori, Finland.

This post will explain you about the things that happen in a life of a tourism student and a traveler – from being part of a successful business in New Delhi, India, for 5 years to turning into a traveler, and then studying tourism in Finland.

After my schooling in India, I started to work with my father at his business. I thought of studying some degree, but I was not sure what to study. During those days when I was in business there was a lot of travel involved and most of the trips were day trips or one night stay trips. Apart from that, the months in which we expect not much business, I used to go to nearby hill stations for 3-4 days trips. The enjoyment that it gave me was of another level. I have been traveling since my school days, but it was like once-a-year travel which took place in summer holidays with my parents. After joining the business, I learnt that traveling was the thing that brings me joy and feeling that it gives is truly amazing.

Traveling is the thing that brings me joy!

In India parents are very protective of their children. In my school days, I was not allowed to travel for school trips which took place for 3-4 days. As I got into my twenties travel came easier for me as there were no restrictions. I traveled to some destinations in India which I could not have gone to if I was younger. I even went to three foreign destinations – Indonesia, Dubai and Thailand. As a traveler, I could say that best life lessons could be learned through travelling to different places. It broadens your mind and you can create memories for lifetime.

This picture was taken at Uluwatu Temple, Bali, Indonesia, in my first international trip in 2018. This trip was so memorable because of an earthquake that happened while I was there: the quake was of 6.6 magnitude, and it literally shook everything, even our beds were dancing!

This picture was taken at the Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE. Travelling to Dubai in 2019 was my best trip abroad. Dubai is a place where everyone can find something for enjoyment. This place offers a lot of activities and one can visit many times as they will find something new there every time they go .
This picture is from the Big Buddha Temple in Phuket, Thailand. I went there in 2020 and it was my third international trip. I liked the views that it offers, the beauty of nature and the weather but on the other I didn’t find people there that helpful. People there mostly want to earn as much as they can from tourists.

As a traveler, I understood that I can not combine my business and travel together. I understood that I am not made for staying in a single place and work for several hours, and I wanted to pursue my career in a field that was related to my interests. Tourism was a thing that I loved to gain knowledge of when I was in business. I watched travel vlogs and travel documentaries on YouTube and Netflix for 3-4 hours daily.

As I was passionate to gain knowledge about tourism, I thought why not study it as my bachelor’s degree and find a job related to this field. The variety of jobs that this field offer will certainly help me combine my work with travel!                                                 


Text and pictures: Kashish Gosain, first year International Tourism Management student


Wellness tourism after the pandemic

During our online course Well-being from Blue Spaces, we got to learn about the concept of blue gym, how coastal and maritime areas can be used in well-being, and the history behind it. We also had an assignment where we got to plan a seafood tour in our home region. What I found the most interesting was the wellness tourism industry and how fast it has been growing for the past years.

Wellness as a general trend has been gaining popularity over the past years. It can be seen in many aspects all around us. From green juice bars in the malls to the many fitness trends that come and go. Shops providing a bigger variety of healthier food options and people making healthier choices, like cutting the usage of alcohol and sugar. This trend has naturally affected the tourism industry as well. Between the years 2015 and 2017 wellness tourism grew 6,5%. That is very significant growth when considered that regular tourism grew only 3,2% in the same time frame. (Global Wellness Institute 2018, 20.)

We live in very uncertain times. With the ongoing pandemic no one really knows the effects it will have on the tourism industry. We can only speculate and make guesses what tourism in the post-pandemic world will look like, how it will affect the trends, and what are the long-term effects that come from it. Industry specialist and researchers have made their predictions and even those have changed as the pandemic has prolonged the bans on traveling. Of course, there are no wrong or right answers really since this is very new territory for all of us. But it is fun to play with the idea and think about the future and how it will look.

Many industry specialists think that there is a very big possibility that the pandemic will make wellness tourism grow at a faster rate than now. Personally, I think that is a very possible outcome. Seeing how people are already interested in their wellbeing and health this pandemic can have the effect that it will get more heightened. The COVID-19 virus has posed a threat to everyone’s health and people may want to take a more proactive and preventative approach after the pandemic is over.

The past year has been hard on everyone. From self-isolation and quarantines, losing loved ones, the additional stress the pandemic has caused to the financial duress. We have seen and felt a lot and it has not been easy on anyone’s mental health. People will probably desire to take a vacation where they can solely focus on their mental well-being. So, I think that it is very possible that various yoga, ashram, meditation, and mindfulness retreats will get very popular.

Tourists may be keener to choose destinations and places where a healthy lifestyle is promoted or easy to keep up. Many people have started to pay more attention to their health during the pandemic. Following a new specific diet or fitness plan, they may want to keep that going even during their travel so places that offer facilities and services that cater to these needs may get an influx of customers.

The Wellness Tourism Association conducted a survey in the summer of 2020 asking about consumers’ travel plans after the pandemic. Over 4000 people answered from 48 countries. They found that 78% of the people had planned to partake in wellness tourism after the pandemic. In the end, as to how much the wellness tourism industry will grow no one knows yet and only time will tell.

Text: Milla Ruonala, third year International Tourism Management student
Photos: Pixabay

References:

Global Wellness Institute. 2018. Global Wellness Tourism Economy. https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/GWI_GlobalWellnessTourismEconomyReport.pdf

Wellnesss Tourism Association. 2020. Nearly 4,000 consumers reveal Wellness Vacation Motivations for Post-Pandemic Travel. https://www.wellnesstourismassociation.org/nearly-4000-consumers-reveal-wellness-vacation-motivations-post-pandemic-travel/

Introduction to tourism studies at the OpenSAMK fair

The OpenSAMK fair was held on Pori campus on 9.11.2021. It was an open fair for everyone interested in studying at SAMK, and especially for high school and vocational school students.

The event was a great opportunity to get familiarized with SAMK and the study programs. For the first two hours the visitors had the opportunity to listen to interviews of SAMK students from different study programs, which could probably help them in choosing their future professional interests. After the interviews, visitors went to the lobby to visit stands where SAMK students were presenting their study programs. Every stand had some small activity in which visitors could take part in.

We represented our study programme, International Tourism Management. As we are third year students, for us it was interesting to present our study programme and convince visitors that everything is possible in these studies if they want it!

Surprisingly many high school students said that they want to study at a university, but they are not sure of what to study. In this case, we suggest they should first decide what they want to do for a living in the future and after that decide where to study. When choosing where to study, the most important thing is to understand where you belong and what is your passion to learn.

Our study programme is studied fully in English. For us, it was a bit funny that so many visitors were scared to speak English. Maybe it is a common fault here in Pori, but we think that you should never be afraid of something that you possibly don’t know.

Even if you are making mistakes you will learn from them – and SAMK is a place where you will not be judged. It is important to do your best and to sometimes challenge yourself – even if it means that you need to speak English.

At the OpenSAMK fair you could see students in different study programs, learn different knowledge, get to know different interests and opinions on why you should choose their study programme. All the students made a great effort in presenting their study programme and had prepared entertaining activities for the visitors in order to show that it is interesting to study at SAMK.

Text: Aleksandra Dmitrijeva and Susanna Carenius, third year International Tourism Management students
Photos: Aleksandra Dmitrijeva

Food tourism offers experiences for all the senses

Traveling the world offers incredible experiences through interaction with locals, nature, and culture all over the world. It is widely accepted that food is one of the best ways to absorb the culture of the destination. When booking trips tourists are always considering food as an important factor in choosing the destination, making culinary tourism more popular than ever before.

But what makes food tourism so special? It is the tourists that are always looking for new experiences, something that gives them an insight of the local culture, but which tastes great, as well. The evolution of tourism has made tourists wanting more than just your typical holiday; they want to experience the destination with all of their senses. Destinations need to consider this aspect, because food might not be the main reason for a trip, but surely it is an essential element, and destinations which have a good reputation for offering fresh, quality products always spark the interest of tourists. Besides from getting a good meal, tourists can meet locals and hear all the great stories and tips about the location.

When traveling to Finland, tourists can discover the passion for cooking local, fresh food. Local Finnish food improves wellbeing and delights the senses. Root vegetables, meat casseroles, ripe berries and mushrooms or wild game and freshly caught fish provide health and authentic flavor. Considering that the forest is full of delicacies, just waiting to be picked, local restaurants provide authentic ingredients, developing new flavors and dishes. Here in Finland, nature is filled with superfoods!

During summer, the Finnish people enjoy cooking, smoking, or grilling their food outdoors, in the serenity of the forest, by the lake or open fire. It is the idyllic scenery to end a hard working week! Finland is a culinary delight for foreigners where they can serve fresh seafood delicacies throughout the year.

Food tourism businesses in Finland need a better service promotion in attracting international customers. For our course Well-being from Blue Spaces, we created a food route in Finland. I truly believe that experiencing a food-themed route like ours would make tourists understand why Finland has been ranked ”the happiest country in the world” four times in a row!

Text: Patricia Ratiu, third year International Tourism Management student
Pictures: Pixabay

Storytelling in tourism

The most memorable experiences are formed when you develop an emotional connection to the experience. That is why storifying is such an important thing in the tourism field. It is also much easier to remember things if there is a story attached to it.

But what is storifying? According to IGI Global, storifying is “the composition of a story from real or fictitious sources so as to create change in the listener’s, viewer’s or user’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviours in the desired manner”.

In other words, it means telling a story about a traditional dessert, for example, so that the one you are telling it to will get more interested about the food that you are telling the story about.

A story can be told about anything: it can be a real story that is based on history or to a real person, or a fictional story that has been made up just to get people interested. And the way the story is told can also vary. It can be told with a song, video, text, orally or any other way people can come up with.

It is much easier to get people interested if you have a story to tell. Take a look at this picture of a restaurant for example.

Photo: Pixabay

Charming, but nothing special, you might think. But what if I told you that this is the place where local members of the mafia used to meet? Countless gun fights and many tragic deaths took place in this same room that you are looking at right now. You would probably be much more interested then, right?

Of course, that story is not true, but wouldn’t it be cool if it was?

This was just one example of storifying, but you probably got the idea. You can also think about situations where you have heard a story about a building, food, lake, forest etc. Did you become interested with the subject more after hearing a story that was linked to it? And if you remember the story still, it shows that storifying is an effective technique.


Text: Roosa Rantanen, second year International Tourism Management student


Sources:
Cavanagh, S. Why you must nail storytelling in tourism
Website of IGI Global

Wellness travel – a healthier holiday

When you think about holiday, about booking a trip, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? For most of the people nowadays, including me, it means that I will have some fun, visit places, make memories like photos and videos, and forget about work and stress that are present in my life. However, it is not always like that because many travelers come back from their holidays more tired than when they left, wishing for a new holiday.

Why this happens?

We have a misconception that we need to make the most out of our trips, like for example taking long tours that exhaust us, visiting all the places in a destination, and in general overwhelming ourselves by busy schedules, often forgetting about rest and relaxation.

I don’t need to mention the technology and social media platforms that takes a lot of our time even when we are on a holiday. It is very trendy nowadays to share every small thing that happens on our trips on Instagram or Facebook, and we forget that snapping our meals, taking 99 selfies or paying attention to our edits takes time and we end up participating in our activities less then we think, reducing our quality time by stalking the phone.

Photo: Unsplash.com

What can we do about it?

Many studies explain why vacations help us get rid of the stress and increase our sense of well-being. Of course, if we consider well-being when we book our holiday, the first step that we can do is to appreciate the vacation and its meaning.

It is definitely a great idea to visit many places and take many photos, but this can be made by keeping in mind that we just can’t be present in every point on the map. In conclusion, a good solution is to start by reducing the number of visits to those attractions that we are interested in. Getting enough sleep during our holiday is also important to recharge our batteries and planning a lazy day is a great idea.  If we are rested when we come back, it will help us to be motivated and perform better in our lives and work. Some people set their flights back on the day before their work starts and it’s always a good idea to put a gap between, like one day to settle in and catch up with the day-to-day routine. (Website of Life Hack, 2021)

A second step is to educate ourselves more on what wellness tourism means and how to get more from our holidays by paying more attention to well-being. Going on a trip doesn’t mean that we need to skip our gym sessions, or to eat and drink whatever we want without thinking on how it can affect us. Wellness retreats help travelers to nourish their bodies and mind, and boost the level of personal wellness.

Photo: Unsplash.com

Practicing yoga, taking Pilates classes or sport in any form will bring balance to our body and mind and will help us to get rid of the stress (website of Corporate Wellness magazine, 2019). Personally, I am planning my next holiday in a spa resort, where I can benefit from healthier food, massage and spa treatments and why not, a digital detox. Breaking unhealthy habits and meeting like-minded people, who have the same goal will improve our lifestyle and we can come back with a new mindset.

What is wellness tourism?

Wellness travel is a segment of the tourism industry that refers mainly to people who book their holidays in order to reduce their stress, relax and forget about day-to-day problems. Global Wellness Institute has an official definition for it: “travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing”

The economy of wellness tourism grows by approximately 6.5% every year and reached $634 billion in 2017. The increasing interest of travelers in a better and healthier lifestyle made wellness tourism to double its growth compared to the entire tourism industry.

Picture: Wellness Corporate Magazine

Europeans present the highest interest in well-being, followed by the Asians and North Americans. Spa tourism is the leading sector representing 48% of the global wellness registering $300 billions in expenditure with over 450 million trips booked.

By 2022 it is estimated that wellness tourism will reach $919 billions in expenditure because hospitality and travel businesses try to develop new strategies daily in order to offer new services, products or experiences for the travelers. (Global Wellness Tourism Economy, 2018)

Text: Bogdan Enacica, second year International Tourism Management student


References:

Global Wellness Tourism Economy. 2018.
Website of Corporate Wellness magazine. 2019. https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/wellness-tourism-well-worth-trip
Website of Health Line. 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/post-vacation-blues
Website of Life Hack. 2021. https://www.lifehack.org/640266/why-do-i-need-a-vacation-from-my-vacation

How does Finnish culture taste like?

While studying the course Well-being from Blue Spaces, I got very attracted to food tourism. Gastronomy tourism is a very interesting way of getting to know the destination and its culture. If we sit a bit and just imagine for example how Finland or Finnish culture tastes like? How would it taste to each of you?

For myself I imagine the taste of a grilled sausage, coffee, and ryebread. And if I imagine where I could have these foods it would probably be some really quiet place in the nature – a forest near the river where mushrooms, blueberries and cranberries grow, a forest where I hear birds singing and the sound of the wind that touches the trees.

For the Well-being from Blue Spaces course we did a food route assignment. I chose to make a route in Satakunta and searched all kinds of information about special foods in the region. As I am from Estonia, of course I was thinking that the most typical food for Satakunta would probably be karjalanpiirakka or salmiakki, but my research showed that karjalanpiirakka has nothing in common with Satakunta and well salmiakki is a favourite treat to nearly every Finn.

Personally, I was surprised after my research to see that Satakunta is the most suitable place for sea buckthorn to grow because of a colder climate in Satakunta. I have lived in Finland for six years and only now I realise why sea buckthorn is so popular in Satakunta – well, because this is the region where it grows in Finland, and it is a speciality of the place.

The second surprising news that I found showed that a long time ago, back in the past, Satakunta was very rich with salmon fish and every single family in Satakunta had salmon on their everyday table. That historical fact was a big surprise for me, maybe because now it is very expensive to buy salmon from the shop because usually it is pretty hard to catch it and because there are just few places in Finland that have salmon in the waters. If we take a look at what kind of salmon shops are selling here, it is usually salmon from Norway, and it is rare to be able to buy Finnish salmon.

How to understand Finnish food culture?

Overall, after all my research and thinking about food culture in Satakunta I got an idea for my assignment that was not only about food. If you want to understand Satakunta culture, especially its food, you have to taste that food somewhere in the nature and have it cooked in the way it was cooked back in the past or cooked by yourself.

It is impossible to understand Finnish food if you do not have any experience of Finnish nature. Finnish nature gives that special feeling and taste to the food that is the experience people should search for when they are visiting Finland. There is something special about Finnish nature and food, it is that calmness that you feel while being somewhere in the forest, listening to the place, eating berries from the bushes, drinking coffee and for example grilling sausages. No wonder Finnish people always say that sausage cooked in the nature tastes better than one cooked inside the house!

Text and pictures: Aleksandra Dmitrijeva, second year International Tourism Management student

Are blue spaces cure to feeling blue?

In the wellness tourism industry there is talk about so called blue spaces. What are those exactly? Well, blue spaces are referred as spaces with open water. So, trip to the coastline or riverside would be considered as visiting blue spaces. They also include ponds, springs, waterfalls and even spas.

We live in a highly modernized world with next to no connection to the nature at least in the big cities. No wonder people are stressed and unhappy all the time. Work is hectic and one can’t practise selfcare enough or do it the right way. Sure, eating or drinking your feelings is a way to manage them in a pinch but in a long run it’s only harmful to you and people around you. The last thing you should want is to be a burden to the people you love to an overly exhorted way. But stress can be hard to manage on your own, so it’s human to try to release it which ever way takes it away the fastest.

 So, why don’t we experiment

Imagine you arriving to a remote riverside in search of a way to pause your busy life. This is what you see, take a good look at the picture below.

Source: Pixabay

You can see the clear blue water gently rushing by hugging the land around it. You can hear the calming song of the water as it passes you by welcoming you to its presence, inviting you to take a deep breath. You can smell the fresh water in the air with luscious forest around you.

After taking the mandatory Instagram picture you sit down and gaze at the water and maybe get curious about how cold the water is. By touching it you find out its quite chilly but pleasant. The sight, sound and smell of the environment has called you back to where you once belonged. Taking a few more deep breaths filled with fresh air, you can feel the stress melting away.

How did that make you feel?

According to studies blue spaces have a positive effect on the human psychology and wellbeing and they are linked with health and happiness. Mental health is important especially during this pandemic time and going back to nature could be one of the solutions to increase it. Being around aquatic environments has mood increasing properties such as generally being in a better mood and reducing stress and negative moods. Visibility of blue spaces have a lowering impact on psychological distress. This fact could be used in the future when planning cities or it could be a part of one’s moving criteria. The happiest people are said to be those living near a blue space, especially near the ocean.

All in all blue spaces are worth taking a look at when trying to de-stress or pause for a bit. Mental heath is an important force for people to have the strength to keep going in a world that doesn’t sleep. Remembering to take care of yourself increases happiness and peace of mind.

Text: Kia Aroautero, Tourism student from Haaga-Helia.
Kia took part in SAMK’s online course Well-being from Blue Spaces via CampusOnline.

Inspirational sources:

Hunt, E. 2019. Blue spaces: why time spent near water is the secret of happiness. The Guardian.

Pasanen, T. Mathew P. White, Benedict W. Wheeler, Joanne K. Garrett, Lewis R. Elliott, 2019. Neighbourhood blue space, health and wellbeing: The mediating role of different types of physical activity. Science Direct.

Pawlowski, A. 2016a. Updated 2019. Blue spaces beat green spaces when it comes to mental health, study finds. Today.

Pawlowski, A. 2019b. How does nature affect mental health? Living close to park linked with happiness. Today.

Meeting international students online gives motivation during the pandemic

As a part of the course Managing Activity Services and Events, we had an opportunity to participate in an International Virtual Workshop this Spring. Students from Douglas College, Canada, had created a virtual meeting space, Gather, using an application called gather.town. As participants, we were requested to register in advance, and we were provided a list of topics to be discussed in groups during the workshop. We got to choose three topics out of the possible seven, that we found the most interesting and wanted to take part in.

Before the actual workshop, we had a chance to try out Gather and create our own avatar to move around and communicate with others. There was a short tutorial to get acquainted with the functions of the virtual space in the beginning. It was easy and fun to use and reminded me of the nostalgic video games I used to play as a kid.

The workshop started at 7 PM Finnish time, as Vancouver is ten hours behind and it was 9 AM there. There were students from Canada, Finland, Czech Republic and the Netherlands taking part in the workshop. It was possible to have a video conversation with others when the avatars were close to each other or in a private space, in this case around the same table. There were seven tables in the workshop room representing different topics we got to choose from, and after every session we changed the tables. Each discussion lasted for 30 minutes and there were three of them all together. Each table also had a student or a pair from Douglas College leading the discussion.

The first discussion I took part in was about student events and activities in the participant’s country. It was a wonderful start for the workshop! We started by introducing ourselves, everyone was really active, and the atmosphere was easy-going. We had fun sharing our experiences and it was exciting to listen to others’ opinions. We compared the differences between Finnish and Canadian student life. We talked about what kind of events there are for students, who organizes them, how much they cost, how often do we participate and how would we like to improve them.

The second discussion was about our international experiences. To me, this table seemed more serious than the previous one, even though the topic was comprehensive and freer to discuss about. We again started by introducing ourselves, as the groups had changed. However, this time we had turns answering questions, rather than sharing what comes to mind. The Finnish people were well represented in this discussion, so we were able to compare what kind of international experiences we had in common. We also brought up the opportunities there are for students in SAMK concerning internationality.

The third and final discussion was a chance to give feedback and to think together what would be needed to take into consideration in case organizing this kind of an event in the future. We agreed that it is valuable to network internationally and through an event like this it is possible during studies. Someone even came up with an idea to try out Gather for teaching purposes to maintain students’ interest. The discussion was so active, we got lost on the subject. So, in addition to the topic, I learned about different cultures and countries as well.

Beforehand, I did not know what to expect, but I was excited to take part in this workshop and it turned out to be a positive surprise. The others seemed quite thrilled too, as I came across many smiling faces. It was delightful to meet new people from different countries – and even from my school – via online connection especially because of the coronavirus pandemic. I would totally recommend and encourage you to participate in this kind of event, if you are ever given an opportunity to do so!

Text and pictures: Julia Alankoja, first year International Tourism Management student

Designing digital routes and the importance of testing

It is a cool and crispy morning in December. The sky is grey and dripping as our hardworking students make their way to Kirjurinluto in a happy mood. They are on their way to test their route produced as a course assignment in collaboration with DigiLuonto Satakunta project.

SAMK often provides different and interesting alternative projects for the students to work on. On the course Tourism Product and Experience Design, second year students of International Tourism Management were given an assignment to work on in collaboration with DigiLuonto and the Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas Geopark to produce themed routes for the region.

Throughout the whole project all groups had a chance to implement their creativity while doing their routes. That was a truly great opportunity! We not only got skills in creating, testing and bringing our ideas in life, but also had a lot of fun working in the assignment together!

At the end of the Autumn, we were told to test the route before finalizing the details. This proved crucial! Before the product can be published to consumers it must be tested in order to assess potential defects and improvements before it is released for commercial use.

Our themed route

Different student groups had been assigned with different interactive, themed trails to work on during this semester. These themes included aviation history, wellbeing, outdoors action and geology.  

Our group was in charge of creating a wellbeing route in Jämijärvi region. While doing this task, we managed to come up with a lot of creative activities which can be done throughout the route, for instance guided meditation, physical exercise like yoga in the forest, and creating art in nature such as drawing mandalas on the sand. The main concept is to connect yourself with the nature, get some relaxation from the big and noisy towns and generally have a great time.

The whole process was creative and fun! We went to Jämijärvi and wandered through the forests in order to catch the inspiration which could lead to thinking up new ideas. Although it was a long process, we didn’t feel bored – vice versa, we were encouraged doing this assignment, which we considered to be a very positive attitude.

The importance of testing

During the testing phase, we were facing some inconveniences with the product, and the application itself. The content was provided prior to the testing, but some parts of it could not yet be found in the application. But one needs to keep in mind the application is still being developed!

Because of the pandemic, a member of the group could not participate in the testing in person. That did not stop the innovative and hardworking students! They video called him to help him participate in this activity as well.

It is definitely important to test your route or it might not function up to the standards required by the customer. There may also be unexpected bugs and missing features which are essential in making the experience. Testing also helps you realize what is working, what is not working, does something need to be aaded, is it easily accessible or usable?

The activities we had designed within the digital points of interest were fun and active. Here in this picture you can see our group doing physical exercises within the route we are testing:

After testing for a while, we realized there are still some technical difficulties within the application, but regardless it is almost ready to be released into commercial usage. The content still may be improved to make the app as user friendly as possible, but it is almost ready.

Text: Kalle Kaseva and Kristian Surmai, second year students of International Tourism Management
Photos: Kalle Kaseva, Kristian Surmai, Ella Sten, Sina Khabbazi