Sustaining Tourism and Communities in Post-Covid-19 Times
During the last 20 years, many destinations in the Arctic have experienced a significant growth of tourism. Economies and communities adapted and hence, tourism is an important way of making a living in the Arctic. The Covid-19 pandemic has now created a substantial crisis for aspiring tourism development in the circumpolar region. How to go ahead is a major challenge for academia, tourism industries and those communities that have invested in becoming attractive tourist destinations.
After a long period of growth, the Covid-19 pandemic has created a significant crisis for tourism development in northern regions. This project brings together academic and industry experts to analyze the effects of the pandemic on Arctic destinations as well as potential strategies for recovery and change. The project applies an interactive method where regular contacts with tourism actors enrich the scientific discussion but also ensure communication of results to relevant stakeholders in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada.
Participating departments and units at Umeå University
Location-based experiences of the crisis are evaluated at workshops and processed jointly into appropriate strategies for recovery. This also creates new partnerships between academia, the public sector and the tourism industry.
Tourism and the pandemic
During the last 20 years, many destinations in the Arctic have experienced a significant growth of tourism. This implies that economies and communities adapted and hence, tourism is an important way of making a living in the Arctic. Although recent research has illustrated that development has varied over seasons and localities, the overall trend implies growth and an increasingly global demand for Arctic tourism products. The uniqueness of the available products enabled the northern destinations to overcome distance and disadvantages regarding accessibility, both in terms of time and costs.
The recent Covid-19 pandemic has, however, created a substantial shock to the system and a crisis for aspiring tourism development in the circumpolar region. Particularly places that previously had been dependent on international tourism, suffer from dramatic losses causing unemployment and bankruptcy within the tourism sector. Sometimes domestic demand could soften this decline, but it has hardly enabled companies and destinations to compensate for their international losses. Besides these immediate consequences, long-term impacts are hitherto unknown. A major setback may have been a lost trust in tourism’s ability to bring about positive change for communities and individuals in the Arctic.
How to go ahead is thus a major challenge for academia, tourism industries and those communities that have invested in becoming attractive places for visitors from nearby and far away. Still, the pandemic also offers an opportunity to re-think tourism development in relation to sustainable development.
Against this background this project seeks to bring together academic and industry experts to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Arctic destinations as well as potential strategies for recovery and change. This is answered through fieldwork, data analysis and workshops gathering academic and industry experts.