Chinese Tourism in the Arctic North: Opportunities beyond the Economic

Matias Thuen Jørgensen, Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


The global shift of power from West to East means that China is concerned with and present in the Arctic like never before (e.g. Hong 2014; Chen 2012). This increasing presence has led to discussions about its pros and cons (e.g. Martyn-Hemphill 2018; Sørensen 2018; Bennett 2018; Lasserre, Huang, and Alexeeva 2017) that are often centred on predictions about potential mining projects, military installations, trade deals, political alliances etc. It turns out, however, that most of these predictions have not yet materialised, which means that encounters between Arctic communities and their future collaborators, investors or partners in China are still rare. There is no doubt that China's presence in the Arctic will increase further in the coming years. This is evident in the sources already cited and particularly in China’s recently released arctic strategy white paper (The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China 2018). Because of this, Arctic communities will have to educate themselves to engage with this new presence in their region, while Chinese actors with interests in the Arctic correspondingly will have to develop their understanding of this unique part of the world and the communities that inhabit it. Tourism represents one of the few sectors where engagement is already happening.The total number of visitors to the Arctic regions is continually rising; this is also the case for visitors from China (Meesak 2018; Yoo 2017; Bennett 2018). Historically, tourism has been used as a tool for diplomacy and in many cases, the first contact between guest and host communities have been through tourism. There are signs that this is currently happening in the Arctic, as tourism is among the first arenas where Chinese and Arctic communities engage. Tourism development in the Arctic requires not only the acquisition of new skills, competencies and understandings, but also establishment of infrastructure, accommodation and other amenities. The challenges and opportunities met in these developments may be seen as early signs of what other and further developments in the Arctic may bring.In this paper, we discuss howAsian tourism to the Nordic Arctic is impacting the region and argue that despite the challenges it brings, it offers a number of opportunities that go beyond economic gain


KonferenceATLAS Annual conference 2019: Tourism Transformations, Girona, Spain
AndetTourism will continue growing in the foreseeable future. Although this may be positive news for tourism businesses, the future of tourism needs to go beyond mere numbers, putting the focus on qualitative issues such as sustainability and wellbeing instead of overnights or money spent.<br/><br/>Moreover, modern societies are arguably moving towards a new paradigm in which the preference for intangible experiences over tangible possessions is growing, and therefore experientialism will overtake materialism in people’s pursuit of happiness. As qualities and intangibilities begin to dominate the market, tourism businesses and destinations will have to be rethought so that both tourists and local communities take a prominent role in the development of tourism.<br/><br/>At the same time, we can also draw attention to the transformational power that tourism exerts in destinations. This power can be observed through the emergence of overtourism or tourismphilia, but it can also be seen in the wide range of untouched destinations willing to attract tourism.<br/><br/>All these transformations are part of the daily life of destinations, businesses and residents nowadays, and clear examples can be found in the surroundings of the conference location. From massively popular Barcelona, to the mature coastal region of the Costa Brava, and the dynamic rural tourism of the Pyrenees.<br/><br/>These transformations open up many new paths and opportunities to be explored by both academics and practitioners.

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