Tourism Development in Peripheral Areas : Processes of Local Innovation and Change in Northern Sweden

Abstract: Tourism has reached almost all regions of the world and has had a notable growth in the peripheral regions of Europe. Attempts at tourism development in rural and peripheral areas have resulted in widely varying outcomes and have often been undertaken as a last resort by communities. Despite mixed results, tourism persists as a tool for regional development. There has not been so much research on the evolving nature of tourism entrepreneurship in regions where tourism is relatively new as a commercial/entrepreneurial activity, e.g., the rural and peripheral north of Europe. This thesis presents Northern Sweden as a regional case study but it is reasonable to assume that the research results are transferable to similar regions with a similar range of nature-based tourism in small communities. The results show that tourism stakeholders co-evolve over time even though formal networks are loose and project-based (Article 1). Tourism firm survival improves for entrepreneurs with previous related experience but there is not necessarily an outsider advantage and new tourism firms contribute to job creation despite high rates of attrition (Article II). Protected areas with unique attributes (e.g., Laponia) can attract distant entrepreneurs but must manage these stakeholders more proactively (Article III). Climate change is a long-term challenge with firms not needing to adapt yet but facing differing exposures dependent on location and firm mobility (Article IV). Finally, evolutionary economic geography helps to better understand the processes of change in tourism in rural and peripheral areas (Article V).

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