NS29 Session 11

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Title: Coping with the Arctification of Northern Tourism 

Organiser: Dieter K. Müller

Affiliation: Umeå University


Riding the wave of public attention that the Arctic has gained recently - owing not least to climate change - tourism on the top of Europe is often portrayed as ‘Arctic’, too. Tourism stakeholders are prominent among those who have promoted such a re-imaging of the North towards being a part of the Arctic and indeed, rising numbers of tourist arrivals as well as an increasingly global demand for northern tourism products suggest that this has been a successful business strategy. This process can be seen as part of an overall ‘Arctification’, also comprising other sectors of society. Still, the growing tourist crowds consuming Arctic products, such as aurora borealis watching, indigenous cultural shows, icehotels and various other snow and winter-related products, pose challenges for host communities. This is partly because new tourists lack proper preparation, and partly because they are numerous in comparison to host populations. The latter are not always inclined or prepared to become hosts and meet a plethora of demands and expectations that may be difficult to handle. Hence, economic opportunities related to a growing tourism need to be balanced against seemingly negative aspects such as over-crowding, deterioration of the environment, cultural clashes, or external control of the industry. Theoretically, these processes have been addressed as outcome of uneven political economies and political ecologies where the commodification of northern nature and culture creates an unbalanced distribution of capital flows and ecological consequences.
Against this background, this session invites contributions that illustrate ongoing changes in Arctic tourism across Northern Europe or similar regions of the circumpolar North empirically and aim at advancing theoretical understanding of Arctification and its implications for northern destinations. Contributions highlighting how individuals, communities, companies, destination organizations or other relevant stakeholders try to cope with growing tourism numbers and their impacts on ecological and social change are of particular interest. In this context, both positive and negative examples are welcome.


Abstract submission