Planning for sustainable tourism in the Nordic rural regions

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Planning for sustainable tourism in the Nordic rural regions

In the newly published Nordregio report ‘Planning for sustainable tourism in the Nordic region’, over 100 tourism development plans (TDPs) from rural areas of the Nordic countries were collected, coded and analysed. The mapping of these documents – which are formulated at the lowest geographical level – provide an insight into how the regions and define themselves in relation to tourism, what their strengths and focuses are, where they see opportunities, what they consider their main challenges, and how sustainability concerns are – or are not – integrated into the tourism plans. The process of thoroughly mapping, coding and analysing the TDPs revealed some common challenges in tourism development and tourism planning which are shared among many Nordic regions while other challenges are more place specific.

Among the shared challenges are e.g., the management and coordination of tourism and tourism planning, securing local benefits from tourism, seasonality and extending the tourism season, increasing profitability and investment, environmental concerns, providing the necessary infrastructure and securing competence development. Further analyses, national comparison and more detailed data about the challenges and opportunities identified in the regional and municipal tourism strategies is available in the aforementioned report. The following focal chapters however provide insight and examples of how some of these topics are discussed in the rural TDPs. The examples come from all five Nordic countries as well as the three autonomous regions.

Other important challenges, but not as widespread, were also identified in some of the analysed material. Cruise tourism and ‘the right to roam’ (also called ‘the right of public access’) are two subjects that have gotten considerable attention in the academic literature on Nordic tourism, sometimes even attracting media attention and being part of the public debate regarding tourism development. Still, these topics are not necessarily widely discussed in TDPs across the entire Nordic region. These two examples are however, where relevant, much debated issues and key topics that must be addressed for the future development of tourism. Therefore, one of the following chapters is devoted to discussions on cruise tourism in the Nordic rural TDPs, while another chapter presents discussions on ‘the right to roam’. The remaining eight chapters however focus on a specific topic, identified as a common challenge in the Nordic regional TDPs and those chapters present how that topic is addressed in the TDP of a certain region.

This report is a part of the ‘Rural tourism in the Nordic region’ project, which is conducted by Nordregio under the Nordic Thematic Group for Sustainable Rural Development. For further information and detailed results of the analyses of the entire TDPs gathered for this research on sustainable tourism planning in the Nordic rural regions, we refer to the main report of the Rural tourism project, ‘Planning for sustainable tourism in the Nordic region’.


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