Tour guides’ perceptions of intercultural safety communication in Finnish Lapland
There has been an increasing focus on customer safety in tourism in recent years. Tour operators have emphasised the necessity of better communication between guides and tourists, especially in intercultural encounters. This article discusses tour guides’ perceptions and experiences of safety communication with their international customers in programme services in Finnish Lapland. The theoretical background relates to the concept of intercultural safety communication that encompasses giving and interpreting safety instructions in an intercultural encounter where the guide and the customers come from different cultural backgrounds. The research data was collected through an online questionnaire and was supplemented by ten semi-structured thematic interviews. The qualitative research method was selected to meet the objectives set for the project. The main research question was how tour guides experience intercultural communication in the safety context. According to the guides, cultural (or other) differences can be recognised when communicating safety instructions. Factors such as the age, gender and attitudes of the communication parties seem to have the biggest impact on how instructions are followed. The guides also seem to be aware of cultural differences in this context. The results show that more training, both culture-specific but also culture-sensitive, is needed in order to achieve broader understanding of effective intercultural safety communication.