Sustainable Destination Development in Northern Peripheries: A Focus on Alternative Tourism Paths

Outi Kulusjärvi


Research has pointed out how tourism destinations in northern, sparsely populated areas are typically developed in accordance with the ideals of growth. This hinders efforts towards sustainable development in destination communities. The objective of this paper is to look into the large-scale growth-focused path creation process by studying how such tourism path creation appears from the perspective of various tourism actors in a destination community. The research draws on insights from local tourism actors in the case study area of the Ylläs in Finnish Lapland. This paper approaches tourism path creation by combining poststructural political economy thinking with evolutionary economic geography perspectives. The analysis highlights the existence of alternative economic knowledge on tourism development in the Ylläs tourism destination community, which deviates from the strongly growth-focused tourism path. The paper proposes that if regional economies of northern sparsely populated areas are to be developed in line with the goals of sustainability, tourism path creation should appreciate such alternative economic thinking existing in the community. In doing so, the paper suggests there is a possibility for less resource-intensive and more locally-led path creation through tourism in the sparsely populated north.

Keywords: tourism destinations, path creation, co-evolution, economic difference, community economies, networking, sustainability

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.