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10.1 Tourism as a driver of social change and transformation in rural areas

5419.0114 (Kapteynborg)
Thursday, June 29, 2023
9:00 - 10:30


Andreas Back
Umeå University

Temporary residents and permanent jobs: Second-home tourism and regional development in the rural periphery


Second-home tourism is a widespread phenomenon in many rural and peripheral regions of the world, constituting a potential source of investments in the built environment and resulting employment in the construction sector. However, little attention has been given to such effects on regional economies and local employment. Building on previous work in progress (e.g. Back et al. forthcoming) on the national labour market effects of this form of tourism, we focus on how these impacts play out at the local level in rural municipalities. Using interviews with construction businesses in six rural Swedish municipalities, and employer-employee micro-data of the Swedish workforce, we intend to study the effects of second-home tourism as a source of jobs and economic value in rural and peripheral areas. The findings of this explorative mixed-methods study can contribute to novel insights into regenerative tourism and how tourism is infused in regional economies. How can the studied developments contribute to regional development and attractive places in the studied municipalities?
Mateo Núñez-Martínez
Predoctoral Researcher
University Of A Coruña

Prospects and representations of tourist activity on El Bierzo and Laciana coal mining areas


This scientific presentation accounts for -through the application of ethnographic methodologies- the constructed imaginaries and the harboured expectations that local population has regarding to the feasibility and the pertinence of the tourist sector as a socio-economic alternative to the industrial dismantling that has been occurring over the last decades.

Although rural tourism was already defined as a potential future recourse when coal activity was perishing, the weak and uncoordinated support that public administrations have been giving to it has decisively contributed to the non-fulfilment of objectives. In this sense, to examine if local population discourses and aspirations are in tune with institutional actions relating to the socio-economic decline of the region and, especially, the possibilities of touristic sector as a main energizer core, will be utterly useful to elucidate successes and failures on the different implemented initiatives.

The commitment to rural tourism has involved a timid empowerment of a food industry that has specialized itself on products such as wine, chestnuts, cherries, and sausages. In addition, routes like Way of St. James and enclaves as Las Médulas or Los Ancares have focused the efforts of the administrations to the detriment of other places and resources, being the scanty boost to the exploitation of mining assets the clearest example of this situation.

Ultimately, the collection of a series of proposed solutions and expressed appreciations by local population about tourism on topics as infrastructures, services, entrepreneurship, or education, will be portrayed.
Dr. Thoroddur Bjarnason
Professor of Sociology
University of Iceland

Circumventing the city: The impact of direct international flights on rural tourism in Iceland


Prior to the advent of international flights, the voyage to Iceland by sea took several days and tourism was largely limited to the odd gentleman explorer. International travel was revolutionized by scheduled international flights in 1945 and Reykjavík International airport became an important hub for Trans-Atlantic flights and the near-exclusive gateway for travel between Iceland and other countries. About twenty airlines currently offer scheduled passenger flights between Reykjavík and 57 destinations in Europe and North America. This has led to the concentration of the growing tourism industry in the southwest region within a few hours flight from major cities, while many rural regions requiring 1–2 additional travel days suffer from extreme seasonal tourism cycles. In June 2022, a consortium of businesses and investors in Northern Iceland established the micro-airline Niceair with the twin goals of providing residents with direct international flights and bringing tourism directly to the region. The airline wet-leases one Airbus A319 for scheduled flights from Akureyri (pop. 20,000) in Northern Iceland to Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Alicante, and Tenerife. In this study, the effects of Niceair on tourism in Northern Iceland are assessed on the basis of passenger lists, on-board passenger surveys and general population survey data. Particular attention is given to the dual role of direct international flights in bringing tourists to the region and offering the local population an opportunity to go abroad as tourists. The environmental impact of direct international flights from Akureyri is also compared to the impact of travel through Reykjavík international airport.
Prof. Dr. Andreas Voth
RWTH Aachen University

The recovery of a historical pilgrimage route as an incentive for cooperation in small rural municipalities of Almería (Spain)


Many territories at the rural periphery of southern Spain suffer strong structural deficiencies as a result of long lasting processes of emigration. A very low population density, an extremely small size of the municipalities, the abandonment of traditional agriculture in mountain areas and a lack of economic alternatives are some of the main characteristics. The functional crisis of these rural areas cannot be overcome with isolated and sectoral development initiatives. The lack of cooperation between stakeholders is one of the major obstacles.
In collaboration with municipalities and various stakeholders in the area of Sierra Nevada in the province of Almería, research groups from the Department of Economic Geography at the RWTH Aachen University have carried out several empirical studies on issues of rural development, conscious tourism and cultural heritage. An extensive analysis was directed towards the revival and valorisation of a medieval pilgrimage route starting in Almería. In a bottom up process initiated by an interregional cooperation project of several Leader groups, the Mozarabic Way of St. James (Camino Mozárabe de Santiago) has been recovered and signposted. The innovative implementation of the project stimulates the transition to new forms of governance at various levels.
The objective of the study presented here is to analyse the cultural itinerary as an instrument of territorial articulation, destination marketing and strengthening of local identity that stimulates cooperation between actors and institutions on different spatial levels and favours the improvement of life quality in small rural municipalities.

Session host

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Akke Folmer
NHL Stenden



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl