IBV is a Technology Centre that studies the behaviour of people in their relation to the products, environments and services they use. As a partner of I4S, IBV joined the meeting in Rovaniemi, Lapland in October 2019. “We never visited Lapland before, so it was a completely new experience for us”, says Giuseppe Caprara, Innovation Manager IBV. “The region is clearly very different from Valencia, so we learned many useful things. The Regional Council of Lapland showed us how sustainable development is in the core of the activities for many businesses. These businesses use modern technology to ensure they preserve nature whilst making improvements to the area that are beneficial for tourism. Sports-tourism-sustainability was something new so we would like to go into in more depth and explore the possibility for further implementation in local development policies.”

Pyhä-Luosto National Park (PLNP)Finnish Lapland has recently seen an uptick in tourists arrivals creating new opportunities but also challenges. The increase in tourists has an effect on bio’s diversity. Recreational travel worldwide to do sports is one of the causes for climate change and in Lapland sports is something most tourists do. Hence, sustainable development in all its aspects is a crucial element in sport tourism. Giuseppe was impressed by the Lappish approach to sports-tourism-sustainability after visiting he PLNP. “There are several hiking, skiing and mountain biking trails in the park. What’s so interesting is that they developed different trails, specifically for people with dogs, disabled people or kids. There are also toilets and places to make a fire, so that people stay on the paths and nature is preserved. We learnt that sustainability is the basis of all the actions in Lapland, which are carried out with great respect for the environment and considering the needs of the user. This approach is key in regions where outdoor sport is a key element for socioeconomic development as the Valencian Community (VC).” In 2018 174.000 people visted PLNP. Although tourism is key for the region of Lapland, their wildlife is even more important. “There is an organisation called Metsähallitus, which Its two main tasks are Parks & Wildlife Finland to manage most of the protected areas of Finland and Forestry to supply wood to the country's forest industry”, Giuseppe said. “The organisation studies the impact on wildlife with any new activities in the park. Wildlife is the key reason so many people visit Lapland yearly, so it’s vital the wildlife is preserved, despite possible economic advantages. That way of thinking opened our eyes. Valencia could learn a lot from this. In Lapland they have clear and simple rules that can be easy to understand for every kind of user.” 

Increase sports tourism in Valencia: In the meeting the Finnish representatives convey their use of many European funds to improve infrastructure and promote sport-tourism. Giuseppe thinks these funds and the help of I4S are key for Valencia to grow sports-tourism in the next years. “The relevance of sports and physical activity as drivers of health, social cohesion, education in values, R&D, innovation, economic development and employment creation is beyond any discussion. We acknowledge that investing and promoting sports innovation will result in more modern, healthier and active societies. Sports have an effect on so many fields that there are a lot of different departments of Generalitat and local government involved. That’s both an opportunity and a challenge. I4S can help to have a suitable transversal approach that can gather partial objectives towards common goals. The challenge is finding suitable win- win initiatives.” In the VC, sport-tourism is on the rise: in 2018 more than 412.000 tourists visited the VC with sport as the main interest. This figure represents an increase of 11% over the previous year, with foreign demand note two years of increases above 30%. It should be noted that in 2018, 1.47 million foreign tourists travelled to Spain as a whole for sporting reasons. The VC occupies the third autonomous position, with a share of 11.7%, after the Balearic Islands and Catalonia. 

IBV is part of a team elaborating the upcoming Valencia Strategic Plan for Sport (PEEGV). This initiative of the City Council of Valencia consists in a process of analysis and reflection on the current situation of the practice of physical activity and sport in our city, proposing secondly strategic lines and measures of action working together with the other agents involved. It will be launched in 2020. Giuseppe: “One of the activities included in the plan is developing regulations for outdoor/ nature sports and their use for economic and territorial growth. The trip to Lapland taught us a lot about this subject. In the PEEGV we will definitely incorporate some of the things we learned in Lapland.”

Giuseppe Caprara, Innovation Manager IBV.

Photo Lapland Credit to  Vanessa Jimenez