Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research
  • publication: 12 October 2021

29th Nordic Symposium on Tourism and Hospitality Research - Shaping mobile futures: Challenges and possibilities in precarious times

This year’s Nordic symposium was organized as a 3-day online conference from 21-23 September, due to an increase in COVI19 infections in Iceland.

On the first day the opening keynote was delivered by Edward Huijbens, Professor of cultural geography of Wageningen University, entitled ‘Future perfect? Earthly tourism attachments. Some of his key takeaways were that tourism can cultivate attachment to and understanding of the earth, that the promise of tourism of growth, prosperity and opportunity is one typically based on capitalist growth objectives. This is even the case in sustainable tourism, as it doesn’t address e.g.: democratic and cooperative forms of ownership, the control and use of productive assets, etc. Integral to understanding the Anthropocene, is seeing the earth as a whole system (Gaia), which should be translated to other disciplines.

On the same day Femke (Vrenegoor, from IHM) and Sarah (Seidel, from Tourism, also member of the Research Group for Sustainability in Hospitality and Tourism) hosted their yearly track on sustainable behaviour in tourism and hospitality. Despite the lower number of attendees to the overall conference, we still had six presenters in our track as well as 20-25 persons in the ‘audience’ throughout. Further contributing to the success of this special track on sustainable behaviour was the interesting content of the presentations. A common denominator between the presentations was the shared responsibility of the different stakeholders of the tourism product at the different levels (individual, organization and society). Demand and supply of sustainable products and services were shown to have an interesting interplay, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivations for behaving sustainably leading to different results. Finally, a new term was coined following ‘flight shame’, namely ‘bucket list shame’, where people have travels, they wish to make but don’t want to call it a bucket list due to the negative associations with mass tourism it has.

On the second day of the conference the keynote was held by Penny Harvey, Professor of social anthropology from the University of Manchester entitles ‘Eco-intimacies on the Margins of Industrial Britain: Heritage, Nature and Atomic Legacy in West Somerset, UK’. This keynote drawn on her on-going ethnographic studies at three nuclear power stations discussing the contradictions of nuclear power and its implications in terms of sustainability, future mobilities as well as the relations with the territory in which it occurs.

Also, Lucia (Tomassini, from IHM) hosted her special track on “Circular Economy, Circularity paradigm, and local space” on the second day of the conference. The session had three presentations including the one of Lucia and a total of 16 attendees, who made the Session small but vibrant and participated. The three presentations highlighted different aspects of the debate around sustainability in tourism and hospitality and how the enhancement of Circular Economy can prompt a transition towards more sustainable practices together with supporting local development. During the session there were several questions and comments from the audience on each presentation. Among the key emerging topics from the discussion the urgency to explore the social dimension of Circular Economy as well as the opportunities and constraints of its implementation in a complex service-oriented sector like tourism hospitality.

The keynote on the third and final day was given by Outi Rantala, associate professor of responsible arctic tourism of the University of Lapland. The setting of the keynote was an interesting one: a video taken outside in the forest, in a late summer drizzle, where the presentation was actually two persons conversing about the topic of sustainable tourism. The main topic was how to rethink tourism making use of our proximate environment, i.e. proximity tourism. It showed that focussing on ‘here’, rather than ‘there’ can blur boundaries between tourism, leisure and relaxation and may contribute to solving some of the climate change challenges we are facing without taking away people’s ability to travel to interesting places.


Femke, Lucia & Sarah