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Published: 2024-04-15

The Double-Edged Sword of Globalization: A New Project Explores Workforce Integration in Arctic Sweden's Tourism Sector

NEWS Facing the challenges of globalisation, the tourism sector in Arctic Sweden is at a crucial crossroads. The traditionally locally anchored workforce is no longer sufficient, and now the focus is shifting globally to solutions. Can international labour be the key to success for the rural tourism industries?

Text: Simon Oja

To understand what these acute challenges of workforce shortage in the rural tourism industry in Arctic Sweden entail, Umeå University has received 6,8 million SEK from the Kamprad Family Foundation for a groundbreaking project titled "The Internationalization of Tourism Labor Markets in Rural Arctic Sweden." The project is led by Dieter K. Müller, a professor at the Department of Geography, and aims to delve into the consequences of recruiting international labour as a solution to local staff shortages that plague the region's tourism industry, partly a side effect of the ongoing green transition.

Social Benefits in Focus

– The interest in the project from local tourism operators, policymakers, and community developers is great, says Dieter K. Müller. A hope with the project is to be able to offer valuable insights into how to maintain the delicate balance between global labour markets and local community interests, with the ultimate goal of guiding sustainable tourism and regional development strategies.

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There is a broad hope that the results of the study will be able to offer tangible solutions to strengthen both the economic and social fabric of local and regional communities at a time when the flows of global labour are becoming increasingly common.
 
– The influx of international labour presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges for rural Arctic Sweden, says Linda Lundmark, associate professor at the Department of Geography.

Resilient and Prosperous Communities

The results of the project are expected to extend beyond academic circles and offer practical guidelines for local tourism operators on how to attract and retain international labour. Furthermore, the project aims to strengthen the bonds between businesses and communities, ensuring the long-term viability and prosperity of the tourism industry in these rural areas.
 
– The winds of change are blowing through Arctic communities in Sweden, and it is of utmost importance that we understand how we can navigate forward, explains Marco Eimermann, also an associate professor at the Department of Geography, who together with his colleagues, hopes to offer concrete strategies to ensure a sustainable future for the region.
 
As the industrial landscape in Arctic Sweden changes and the availability of local labour decreases, the tourism sector stands at a critical crossroads. Tourism companies are now, therefore, turning globally to meet the staff shortage, a development that can bring both opportunities and challenges to reshaping Arctic communities. The project aims to find strategies for a balance between global labour, local welfare, and sustainable tourism development.

Project info

Turismarbetsmarknadens internationalisering på landbygden i arktiska Sverige

Funder: The Kamprad Family Foundation

Project Duration: January 1, 2025 to December 31, 2027

Budget: 6.8 million

The project has been planned and designed in collaboration with the Swedish Lapland Visitor Board, which is also participating as a partner.

Dieter Müller
Professor, other position
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Linda Lundmark
Other position, associate professor
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Marco Eimermann
Associate professor
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