Abstracts for Session 23

Uncertain futures? From overtourism to re-starting tourism



Title: Space for re-consideration: From overtourism to re-starting tourism in Arctic destinations

Authors: Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson, Johannes Welling, Outi Rantala, Dieter Müller, Linda Lundmark, Kaarina Tervo-Kankare, Jarkko Saarinen, Brynhild Granås, Nina Smedseng, Trine Kvidal-Røvik, Pat Maher, Suzanne De la Barre

Affiliation: University of Iceland, University of Lapland, Umeå University, University of Oulu, UiT, Nipissing University, Vancouver Island University 


This paper is based on data collected in relation to a workshop hosted by the project Partnership for sustainability: Arctic tourism in times of change held in May 2021. There, researchers, graduate students, industry representatives and policy makers met and shared their experiences during the pandemic as well as their vision on challenges and opportunities for the re-starting of tourism post Covid-19. We take departure from concerns of overtourism in number of destinations prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 and describe some of the challenges the pandemic brought to the sector and examples of how it has responded to it. While there are some evident regional differences in how the pandemic has affected tourism, the workshop also highlighted common challenges, priorities and controversies regarding re-starting the tourism sector. Those include the image of tourism as an undervalued sector vis a vis other industries, shortage of skilled labour in the wake of the Covid-19 and the need of financial support for sustaining minimum operations of tourism companies. We will pay special attention to a recurrent theme emergent in conversations with tourism entrepreneurs and policy makers, namely that Covid-19 has provided space for re-consideration of how tourism should be operated. In the paper we will explore what this re-consideration can mean in different contexts and how it underscores diverse views on what the recovery of the sector might entail.   



Title: Arctic tourism in time of change: Seasonality

Authors: Outi Rantala, Suzanne de la Barre, Brynhild Granås, Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson, Dieter K. Müller, Jarkko Saarinen, Kaarina Tervo-Kankare and Patrick T. Maher 

Affiliation: University of Lapland, Vancouver Island University, UiT, University of Iceland, Umeå University, Univeristy of Oulu, and Nipissing University


The seasonal nature of tourism has for long garnered the attention of tourism destination planners and economic development strategists at all levels, tour operators and the diverse businesses that significantly depend on tourism, and the host communities and residents who negotiate tourism’s potential to have both positive and negative impacts. 

In 2019, our researcher group suggested addressing the following considerations in order to try to solve the challenges related to the seasonality of tourism in Arctic Europe: adopting community-first planning; enhancing local business and tourism resources ownership – including sociocultural-oriented resources, for instance festivals or indigenous culture-based at-tractions, and the utilization of new local innovative integrations of nature and culture in tourism; labour and employment issues; creating strategies to reduce labour precarity associated with tourism; educating travellers about sustainable Arctic ways of living, which are also responsible for how lifestyle entrepreneurship is expressed in the Arctic; enhancing urban Arctic tourism opportunities; utilization of the diverse distinct seasons existing in the Arctic; recognizing global environmental change; and committing to sustainable transportation.

Here, our aim is to re-visit these suggestions considering the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the seasonality of tourism in Arctic Europe – such as the increase of domestic tourism during the low seasons, increased interest towards proximity tourism, and the loss of skilled workforce.



Title: Arctic Tourism in Times of Change: Dimensions of Urban Tourism

Authors: Dieter K. Müller, Doris A. Carson, Suzanne de la Barre, Brynhild Granås, Gunnar Thór Jóhannesson, Gyrid Øyen, Outi Rantala, Jarkko Saarinen, Tarja Salmela, Kaarina Tervo-Kankare, Johannes Welling

Affiliation: Umeå University, Vancouver Island University, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, University of Iceland, University of Lapland, University of Oulu


Tourism has grown in many Arctic peripheries of northern Europe and North America in recent years, particularly among international markets interested in northern winter experiences and unique Arctic nature and culture-based assets. In this context urban places have remained relatively neglected in both academic and policy discourses connected to Arctic tourism, with much of the research and public attention focusing on remote destinations and exotic attractions that typically dominate the popular promotional tourism imagery of the Arctic. This paper aims at conceptualizing and illustrating the diversity of urban Arctic tourism dimensions and to identify important implications for sustainable local and/or regional tourism development across the North. As urban places in the Arctic are not primarily tourism resort towns, tourism happens in the context of other economic and societal activities. Hence, urban places in the Arctic serve a regional demand for urbanity and urban services within leisure and entertainment and they serve as destinations for domestic and international markets looking for more typical northern products. Considering these insights, there is certainly not only one way forward for urban tourism in a post-pandemic “Arctic”, where the latter forms a context to play with and an ingredient that on a global market is currently loaded with positive value. 



Title: The contested nature of Allemannsretten  

Authors: Brynhild Granås, Gaute Svensson, Arvid Viken, Bente Heimtun, Bjørn Egil Flø, Outi Rantala, Seija Tuulentie, Kirsti Pedersen Gurholt, Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson, and Katrín Anna Lund

Affiliation: UiT The Arctic University of Norway


In the new research project, The Contested Nature of Allemannsretten, we aim to shed light on current contestations surrounding Allemannsretten in the Nordic countries. We investigate Allemannsretten – or the freedom to roam – through an ethnographic approach that pays attention to how Allemannsretten is practiced in periphery landscapes. Inspired by Kenneth Olwig’s theory of landscape, we address the substantive practiced landscape as opposed to the abstract landscape that is found in for example law and formal governance practices. With this focus, we study how the practicing of Allemannsretten is knit together in landscape practices that make up compound relational processes across difference within which customs that constitute regimes for problem solving and decision-making specific to the landscape are (re)negotiated. Local customs in nature practices concern contestations over nature and are central to sustaining periphery communities and enhancing mitigation of biodiversity loss and climate change from ‘below’. This point has yet to find its place in conservation and management and is particularly important in times where we experience increased mobility and Allemannsretten is actively practiced as an asset within the tourism industry. These are changes that inflict on local livelihoods such as small-scale farming while putting Allemannsretten under pressure. The project is based on a collaboration between researchers from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, inhabitants in Reisadalen and local government offices. The project also has an element of comparative research through collaboration with research communities in Southern Norway, Finland, and Iceland.



Title: Travel confidence in troubled times

Authors: Erik Braun, Szilvia Gyimóthy, and Sebastian Zenker

Affiliation: Copenhagen Business School


Disasters have a strong impact on tourist mobility, however, little is known how governments’ handling of enduring crises affect travel confidence. As countries are re-entering the global race to win back international guests after COVID-19, destinations are setting aside health protection measures over economic priorities and a fast re-opening. This paper tests the importance of trust in governments on travel intentions with regards to kickstarting tourism during a pandemic. The results of two substantial empirical studies (US, N=2,180; Denmark, N=2,062) show that individuals’ willingness to travel depends on their trust in the respective destinations’ government. Our results suggest that consumers perceive a stronger economy focus as less socially responsible, and critical attitudes towards actual policy responses to the pandemic has also modified travel decisions. In particular, the  incentivizing of consumption (instead of protecting lives) mitigates the perceptions of health risks and affects travellers’ trust in host destination governments significantly. Our findings also carry implications for studies of post-pandemic tourism behavior, which highlight that controversial policy responses not only seem to deteriorate destination image, but also have a fundamental impact on travel outcomes.


Title: Consequences of Covid-19 on tourism and local communities: Implications for sustainability, innovation and management of resilience 

Authors: Anne Wally Ryan and Dorthe Eide 

Affiliation: Nord University


Many destinations are focusing on culture heritage, sustainability, tourism and destination development, such as through sustainability certification and/or UNESCO world heritage status. The aim of this empirical paper is to explore vulnerable parts of tourism destinations made visible during the Covid-19 pandemic, and suggest practical and policy implications.

We apply a theoretical framework of innovation for sustainability and resilience of local communities. Three Norwegian destinations, all of which have both certifications, Vega, Røros and Geiranger, were strategically chosen and studied by semi-structured interviews as the main data. Data has been gathered before and during the pandemic. Our preliminary findings are that these doble certifications do not necessarily prevent against challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic crises. Among the cases, Geiranger was hardest hit. Before the pandemic, Geiranger’s economy was strongly based on international tourism and cruise-tourism. Hence, the local community was highly dependent of tourism for employment. This calls for heterogeneity of activities, which supports the current advocacy for regenerative tourism; on the importance to find alternative ways of framing and delivering tourism for the net benefit to all. The two other cases had larger dominance of domestic visitors, and could therefore easier adapt to increased amounts of domestic visitors during the summer of 2020. These local communities focused on other industries besides tourism, such  as reindeer herding, local food production and crafts in other parts of the year.   



Title: Icelandic tourism industry in a survival mode - an exploration of support measures

Author: Iris Hrund Halldorsdottir

Affiliation: Icelandic Tourism Research Centre


Iceland is amongst the countries in Europe that have experienced biggest decrease in tourism numbers because of the COVID-19 pandemic with -77% decrease in international tourism numbers.  Many companies had been nearly without any income in the year 2020. This all has had consequences for the Icelandic tourism industry, the economy and connected industries.

Tourism became the Iceland´s most important export industry after the financial crash in 2008. International tourist numbers rose from half million in 2010 to 2,3 million in 2019, the annual increase being between 19-39%. In 2018, Iceland ranked in third place, after Mexico and Spain, of all the OECD countries in proportion of tourism of the total GDP. The current pandemic and resulting travel restrictions has therefore hit the country hard economically.

This presentation will draw on an ongoing study on the Icelandic tourism industries’ adaptability and resilience. The emphasis will be on the main support measures aimed at the tourism industry and to explore what measures seems to most important to the industry to prolong the survival of the companies as well as giving them a boost for the restart after the COVID-19 pandemic. The data applied for this presentation consists of existing data such as various industry and public reports, primary data as interviews and diary entries.



Title: Turning the tide: An outline of drivers, barriers and differing logics in urban-rural cooperation on tourism development

Authors: Donna Sundbo, Ane Dolward, and Andreas Bonde Hansen

Affiliation: University College Absalon


This study looks at how cooperation can change tourism flows from city to countryside. Some urban destinations experience overtourism (e.g. Goodwin 2017, Alonso-Almeida et al. 2019). Inversely, some less economically developed rural areas attempt tourism development (Gartner 2005, Helgadóttir & Dashper 2020). Both could benefit from increasing a centrifugal tourism flow and tourism development in rural destinations, the success of which depends on key factors (Wilson et al. 2001), one of which is cooperation between actors (Pechlaner et al. 2019).

A multi-case study of five European destinations, in the context of an urban-rural development project, analyses effects and possibilities of cooperation between urban and rural actors. These were studied through observation, interviews and desk research to identify conditions and approaches under which destinations can be successful in enticing urban tourists to the countryside.

The stakeholders which could change tourism flows for the better, tend to be in an immature state of development. Also, urban-rural tourism relations in Scandinavia are complex due to unique tourism traditions. So attracting urban tourists to rural destinations depends on factors of cooperating, developing and communicating the offerings of the rural destinations; and also factors in the urban location marketing and coordinating with the rural destinations.

A key success factor was found to be a three dimensional collaboration between actors. Results show actors have three different operational logics to tourism development, which can either collide or supplement each other, depending on whether they are explicit and whether the tourism actors are conscious about them or not.



Title: Enchantment: Feeding Care within the Cracks of Ecotourism

Authors: Kellee Caton, Chris E. Hurst, and Bryan S.R. Grimwood 

Affiliation: Thompson Rivers University, University of Waterloo


While community development, learning, and responsible travel have been recurrent dimensions of ecotourism, the common core idea of nature is what steers the moral values and experiential desires of ecotourists and the conservation orientation of ecotourism operators and enterprises. Nature is what we are told and sold to care about in ecotourism. Nature is, however, no stable, homogenous, or apolitical thing, as scholars from across the social and natural sciences have demonstrated for some time. Indeed, nature is (and historically has been) tethered to discursive and material relations that constitute colonialist and capitalist systems. Considering such critiques, we explore in this paper the notion of enchantment in ecotourism encounters and its potential to spark relations of care. We contend that even within exploitive and destructive practices, seeds of care, compassion, and living and dying well together can and must be aroused and nourished. Enchantment invites us back into our sensing bodies, the expansive present, and the fundamental relationality of being and becoming in the world. It ruptures individualistic and dichotomously conceived worlds with vibrant possibilities for relating with others (human and more-than-human) in more humble and caring ways. Insofar as ecotourism can prompt such moments of enchantment, there remains hope amid its ugly and fractured nature.