Towards global sustainability: Focus on alternative tourism agency and social justice in northern destinations

Theme 2. Connectivity
Session Name 2.5 Arctic tourism development: Prospects and challenges?
Presentation Type Oral
Author(s) Outi Kulusjärvi (University of Oulu, Finland)
Abstract text

Tourism growth is today considered by the state policies as a major means of generating work and employment in sparsely populated areas in the Finnish North. This discourse guides tourism development also locally. For instance, in the Ylläs tourism destination the dominant tourism path is hoped to result in tourism growth through new tourism construction and increased international tourism.


While this economic approach to human well-being is not ecologically and socially sustainable, research has discussed the ways in which transformations in tourism production can be achieved. It is considered necessary to alter business operations and develop sustainable tourism services. The role of collective actions in forms of tourism governance, cooperation and participation is highlighted. In addition, the role of government and its regulatory power is brought to the fore. Yet, there exist less critique towards the capitalist economic rationales and agency by economic actors.


By drawing on poststructural political economy and qualitative case study conducted in Ylläs, I argue it is necessary to recognize how there exist alternative economic thinking in northern destinations. In Ylläs, these less growth-focused views are not equally appreciated and heard in destination decision-making. It is necessary to alter the everyday tourism politics in a way that destination development becomes more socially just. This requires rethinking the prior position of growth aims in the capitalist tourism economy. While alternative tourism paths are less dependent on increase in air travel, they would support more globally sustainable destination development.

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