Five projects funded by the ITRC

The board of the Icelandic Tourism Research Centre has decided to support five project ideas proposed in relations to an advertposted in March. A total of 11 project ideas were proposed and thereof the director of the ITRC has been granted permission to negotiate the terms of a full project with five. These five projects are:

  • Tourism and peripheral communities – impacts and consequences
  • The economic benefits of tourism
  • Tourism carrying capacity
  • Sustaining Tourism in Protected Areas in Iceland
  • Rural tourism development in Iceland

The projects reflect well the threefold emphasis of the ITRC research agendas, focusing on economic impacts and the interplay between society/culture, nature and tourism. The project are focused on regions in the periphery of Iceland as well as the country as a whole and selected nature-based tourism destinations. Those behind the projects represent the breadth of the institutes that back the ITRC.

Below short abstracts for each project are provided in the order in which they are listed.

Tourism and peripheral communities – impacts and consequences

The project, which is the PhD study of Guðrún Þóra Gunnarsdóttir, deals with the impact of tourism in peripheral communities in Iceland. The aim of the project is to study the making of a destination and how this process affects the understanding of the local population on their community, their environment and history. Three peripheral areas in Iceland, all suffering from industry restructuring traditional means of sustenance through agriculture and fisheries. They have all responded by going into tourism in the last few years. The project is to run from 2011 to 2014 and is meant to inform tourism businesses and policy makers on the potential rewards of tourism development, but also the pitfalls to be aware of.

The economic benefits of tourism

The project is proposed jointly by the ITRC and Statistics Iceland and is meant to boost the tourism satellite accounts, being compiled by the latter. The idea is to fund one PhD student to delve into the preconditions and definitions being used in the TSA in the Icelandic context, analyse the industry structure and business environment of Icelandic tourism and see how possibly to connect other information and data being compiled on Icelandic tourism in a comprehensive overview of the industry. This would be an overview accessible on an annual basis to industry stakeholders.

Tourism carrying capacity

Over a decade ago tourism carrying capacity research was undertaken in selected nature-based tourism destinations in Iceland. The idea, proposed by the researcher of these Anna Dóra Sæþórsdóttir, is to revisit these areas with the same type of surveying and research framework today, although focusing only on the perception of visitors. By now the number of visitors to these areas has more than doubled and it is imperative to realise how possibly this has impacted the views of visiting tourists, infrastructure development, local attitudes and the environment in these destinations.

Sustaining Tourism in Protected Areas in Iceland

The central goal of this project is to design a framework for the development of sustainable tourism in and around Vatnajökull National Park (VNP). Protected areas – especially national parks – are an important foundation of tourism in Iceland. The project is a PhD project supervised by the University of Iceland centre in Hornafjörður. A large majority of the tourists who choose to visit Iceland do so because of the possibility of experiencing wild, untouched nature. The establishment of VNP, the largest in Europe, in 2008 was both a response to the existing and ever-increasing demand for nature-based recreation and an active attempt to stimulate visits to the park and its surrounding areas even further. By attracting more tourists, the park would increase economic benefits for local and national tourism businesses and thus also providing much-needed opportunities for socio-economic development in the rural areas surrounding the park, most of whom were suffering from stagnation and de-population. The central aims of this project are:

a. Develop and test a participatory modelling framework on basis of an adaptive co-management approach which contributes to the development and the viability of sustainable park tourism.

b. Critically evaluate the effectiveness of collaborative modelling processes in developing and planning sustainable tourism in national parks in Iceland

Rural tourism development in Iceland

This project, proposed by the University of Iceland centre in Húsavík, is to explore the economic impact of tourism in a rural setting outside the capital region and do a region by region comparison. The research will focus on the supply and demand of tourism in each region through survey work, researching visitors, industry service providers and through and infrastructure mapping focusing on e.g. the role of transport.