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Commercialization of nature through tourism
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Tourism Studies and Geography. (ETOUR)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1641-4123
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation contributes to developing knowledge on the commercialization of natural resources through tourism. This is achieved by means of understanding the main avenues through which natural resources are commercialized, and analyzing the operational setting of tourism firms. The focal area is nature-based tourism– a type of tourism, taking place incomparatively unmodified natural areas, which has emerged as a powerful gravitational force, integrating an increasing variety of natural resources into the commercial domain. The point of departure is the assumption that fornature-based tourism firms, nature is simultaneously the main object of commercialization and the operational setting, where this commercialization happens. The attention here is, therefore, on the supply side, i.e. on the smalland micro firms, acting as the agents of commercialization. The empirical data come primarily from a nation-wide survey among the nature-based tourism firms in Sweden, generating the most comprehensive information about this sector to date. Additional data come from in-depth interviews and observations among the nature-based tourism firms in Sweden, as well assecondary sources (official statistics on natural resources and a survey in Norway).

This is a compilation thesis, i.e. it consists of a cover essay and five individual papers. The cover essay offers a bird’s eye view on all the papers, frames them theoretically and synthesizes all the findings into a coherent contribution. Papers I and II create the foundation, necessary for understanding the processes of nature commercialization and the operational setting of naturebased tourism firms, while Papers III, IV and V provide supplementary insights into these areas of inquiry. Paper I starts by building on existing knowledge in outdoor recreation to approach nature-based tourism. Paper II focuses on the operational setting, conceptualizes and explores its dimensions. Building on this, Paper III looks at how the presence of various amenities in the operational setting can explain the localization patterns of the firms on various geographical levels. Paper IV focuses on the operational setting dimensions omitted in the previous papers, i.e. the continuous efforts of the firms to negotiate the inherent uncertainty within the setting. Finally, Paper V looks at various characteristics of nature-based tourism firms to understand the specifics of sustainability strategies.

The main findings in these five papers demonstrate that the nature-basedtourism is an active integrator of a wide variety of natural resources into the commercial domain, and approaching them from the supply perspective provides an additional understanding of the sector. This approach suggests that the nature-based tourism supply could be understood not only from the perspectives of tourist activities offered, but also from the perspective of operational setting preferences (e.g., the axes of high-low specialization, and high-low dependence on specific setting features), providing a new insight into the ways of nature commercialization through tourism. The operational setting itself becomes an important resource, being simultaneously part of the supply and the environment of a tourism system, bringing together a multitude of dimensions and actors. The resources nature-based tourism depends on defy ‘commercialization-friendly’ criteria, creating a context of uncertainty and demanding higher levels of creativity and agency on behalf of the firms. Commercialized nature experiences become important not only for specialized, skill- and equipment-intensive activities, but also for rather simple and relaxed ones, on both international and domestic markets. This suggests the growing importance of commercial nature-based tourism, linked to growing sustainability challenges. The sustainable resource use within the Scandinavian nature-based tourism context, however, is deeply entrenched inunique local specifics, and the entrepreneurial characteristics are not always compatible with market-based sustainability policies, suggesting the need for more fine-tuned approaches.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University , 2017. , p. 141
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 271
Keyword [en]
nature-based tourism, commercialization, operational setting, servicescape
National Category
Human Geography Environmental Sciences Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-31800ISBN: 978-91-88527-30-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-31800DiVA, id: diva2:1147748
Public defence
2017-11-17, F229, Östersund, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-10-09 Created: 2017-10-08 Last updated: 2017-10-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Bridging outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism in a commercial context: Insights from the Swedish service providers
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bridging outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism in a commercial context: Insights from the Swedish service providers
2017 (English)In: Journal of Outdoor Recreation, ISSN 2213-0780, E-ISSN 2213-0799, Vol. 17, no March 2017, p. 84-92Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates how outdoor recreation demand is reflected in the commercial tourism supply. We bring together the demand and the supply perspectives as well as the domestic and international dimensions, i.e. linking outdoor recreation with nature-based tourism. The data is collected through a nation-wide survey among nature-based tourism providers, catering to both domestic and international markets in Sweden. Four major data-driven avenues of commercializing outdoor recreation are discussed (Winter/Nordic, Summer/Active, Summer/Relaxing and Extractive) and further profiled against external variables, such as types of business operations, international markets or seasonality. The findings offer a new insight into the patters of the commercial supply of nature-based tourism in Sweden, while also building on the previous research and history of outdoor recreation. Evident commercial importance and domestic popularity of such ordinary outdoor activities as cycling on roads, swimming, jogging, picnicking or hiking outside mountain areas are linked to changes in leisure and lifestyles noticed previously. Commercialization of outdoor recreation, a snapshot of which is presented in this study, is discussed as an ever-expanding and diversifying process, observed both in Sweden and globally.

Keyword
Outdoor recreation, Nature-based tourism, Commercialization, Commodification, Friluftsliv
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30005 (URN)10.1016/j.jort.2017.01.003 (DOI)000400277500010 ()2-s2.0-85011700254 (Scopus ID)ETOUR (Local ID)ETOUR (Archive number)ETOUR (OAI)
Available from: 2017-02-07 Created: 2017-02-07 Last updated: 2017-10-09Bibliographically approved
2. Nature as a commercial setting: the case of nature-based tourism providers in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nature as a commercial setting: the case of nature-based tourism providers in Sweden
2016 (English)In: Current Issues in Tourism, ISSN 1368-3500, E-ISSN 1747-7603Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study analyses variations in the operational setting in the context of nature-based tourism (NBT) and draws much needed attention to the supply side of this sector by segmenting the NBT service providers based on their setting preferences. This paper focuses on the setting of NBT as an important alternative avenue for understanding the operational context of NBT supply. This approach is subsequently empirically explored through a national survey among the NBT service providers in Sweden. The data analysis demonstrates that the companies can be rather clearly clustered based on the variations in the perceived importance and impact of NBT setting components. This study therefore helps in understanding the role of a commercial setting in explaining NBT supply, which has a potential to not only contribute to developing the research of this sector further but also help in avoiding possible conflicts with other natural resource users and improve its overall management.

Keyword
commercial setting, nature-based tourism, tourism supply, experiencescape, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-28848 (URN)10.1080/13683500.2016.1232378 (DOI)2-s2.0-84988369888 (Scopus ID)ETOUR (Local ID)ETOUR (Archive number)ETOUR (OAI)
Available from: 2016-09-21 Created: 2016-09-21 Last updated: 2018-02-28Bibliographically approved
3. Natural amenities and the regional distribution of nature-based tourism supply in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Natural amenities and the regional distribution of nature-based tourism supply in Sweden
2017 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, ISSN 1502-2250, E-ISSN 1502-2269, Vol. 17, no 2, p. 145-159Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nature-based tourism is often perceived as one of the easiest and readily-available tools for regional development and diversification of rural economies, and Sweden is not an exception. Successful tourism development, however, depends on various amenities, which vary with region. This article, based on a national survey among nature-based tourism service providers in Sweden, discusses general characteristic of Swedish nature-based tourism supply, reveals the most important natural amenities from the supply perspective and discusses the patterns of their regional variation. It is further investigated how distributions of various amenities is related to the density of nature-based tourism operations across regions. The scope of the analysis includes three levels: country, land and county. Results show that nature-based tourism in Sweden is a highly diversified sector, which demonstrates significant north-south variations, visible on the level of the three lands. On the level of counties, natural and human-made amenities are comparable in their power to predict distribution of NBT operations, suggesting that the border between NBT and other forms of tourism is not as distinct as is often imagined.

Keyword
Nature-based tourism, tourism supply, natural amenities, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography Economic Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-27760 (URN)10.1080/15022250.2016.1153430 (DOI)000396820500003 ()2-s2.0-84961200147 (Scopus ID)ETOUR (Local ID)ETOUR (Archive number)ETOUR (OAI)
Note

Published online: 10 Mar 2016

Available from: 2016-05-24 Created: 2016-05-24 Last updated: 2017-10-09Bibliographically approved
4. Commercializing the Unpredictable: Perspectives From Wildlife Watching Tourism Entrepreneurs in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Commercializing the Unpredictable: Perspectives From Wildlife Watching Tourism Entrepreneurs in Sweden
2017 (English)In: Human Dimensions of Wildlife, ISSN 1087-1209, E-ISSN 1533-158X, Vol. 22, no 5, p. 406-421Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Tourism companies that offer wildlife watching experiences share a unique property—they build their business on a promise they have no guarantee of fulfilling (showing wild animals). The factor of luck becomes important, as evident in the advertisement texts of wildlife watching tours. Understanding commercialization of uncontrollable natural phenomena (wild animals) in a similarly uncertain natural setting (wilderness) is the aim of our article. In this illustrative case study, we examine wildlife watching companies in Sweden, focusing on free ranging bear, moose, wolf, roe-deer, beaver, and seal. Through interviews and participant observations with eight wildlife watching entrepreneurs, we elaborate on the following major themes that help understand specific challenges associated with these businesses: lack of control as an inherent property of wildlife watching tourism, agency and continuous negotiation of uncertainties within the operational setting, importance of guide performances and “secondary” experiences, and using uncertainty as a way of enhancing authenticity.

National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30853 (URN)10.1080/10871209.2017.1334842 (DOI)000408863500002 ()2-s2.0-85020750518 (Scopus ID)
Projects
Nature-based tourism, nature commodification, uncertainty, wildlife watching
Available from: 2017-06-13 Created: 2017-06-13 Last updated: 2018-02-28Bibliographically approved
5. Sustainable by nature? The case of (non)adoption of eco-certification among the nature-based tourism companies in Scandinavia
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sustainable by nature? The case of (non)adoption of eco-certification among the nature-based tourism companies in Scandinavia
2017 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 162, p. 559-567Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper investigates the factors associated with the (non)adoption of eco-certification among the nature-based tourism companies in the Scandinavian region. Previous research suggested that the popularity of tourism eco-certification schemes remained limited in the region due to socio-cultural, historical and other specifics. We revisit this query a decade later with the support of nation-wide data from two Scandinavian countries – Norway and Sweden. The quantitative results suggest that such factors as motivations for operating a nature-based tourism business, beliefs about eco-certification effects, economic and demographic characteristics, are associated with the eco-certification adoption. Qualitative insights shed more light on the existing barriers for this sustainability approach in the region. The results suggest that companies with strong beliefs in the positive context (i.e. beliefs that eco-certification is capable to generate higher income, more customers and provide marketing advantage), lifestyle and sustainability-oriented business goals together with favorable organizational context (larger size, higher income and having a female leader) are more likely to invest in an eco-certification scheme.

Keyword
eco-certification, eco-labelling, ecotourism, sustainable tourism, Norway, Sweden
National Category
Human Geography Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-30857 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.060 (DOI)000407185500050 ()2-s2.0-85024132393 (Scopus ID)ETOUR (Local ID)ETOUR (Archive number)ETOUR (OAI)
Available from: 2017-06-13 Created: 2017-06-13 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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Margaryan, Lusine

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