Relational Destination Development : Case Studies on the Significance of Tourism Networks

Abstract: Destination development has become a key issue in local and regional development. In particular, many governments recognize the industry's potential for fostering economic growth and development. The tourist destination is often conceptualized as a complex network with several levels of interaction – both networks of actors within the destination, but also networks linking it to its surrounding environment with potential and actual customers, other destinations, government bodies and so on. It is hence the assumption here that we cannot fully understand destination development in a particular community unless we have a good understanding of how the key stakeholders interact.By applying different network approaches that are based upon and united by a relational economic geography perspective to the study of destination development, we can widen our understanding of why some destinations struggle to survive and often decline, others maintain a threshold of success as tourist visiting areas, whereas there are still others, which exhibit a high level of competitiveness with local entrepreneurial milieus characterized by growth and long-term development.More generally, this thesis deals with a traditional core issue in economic geography, i.e., to explain what it is that makes a place or region characterized by growth and development. This thesis explores this issue, and expands our knowledge on the links between various types of network structures and growth in a destination context, as demonstrated by case studies of two successful tourism areas. These studies of the Swedish mountain resort of Åre, and of Icehotel in northern Sweden, explore relational destination development and the significance of tourism networks.