University of Oulu

Sæþórsdóttir, A.D.; Hall, C.M.; Stefánsson, Þ. Senses by Seasons: Tourists’ Perceptions Depending on Seasonality in Popular Nature Destinations in Iceland. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3059.

Senses by seasons : tourists' perceptions depending on seasonality in popular nature destinations in Iceland

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Author: Sæþórsdóttir, Anna Dóra1; Hall, C. Michael2,3,4; Stefánsson, Þorkell1
Organizations: 1School of Engineering and Natural Sciences, University of Iceland, Askja, Sturlugata 7, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
2Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
3Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
4School of Business & Economics, Linnaeus University, 391 82 Kalmar, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-10-04


Seasonality in visitor arrivals is one of the greatest challenges faced by tourist destinations. Seasonality is a major issue for sustainable tourism as it affects the optimal use of investment and infrastructure, puts pressure on resources and can create negative experience of crowding at destinations. Peripheral areas commonly experience more pronounced fluctuations in visitor arrivals. Iceland is one of those destinations. Although the number of tourists visiting the country has multiplied in recent years, seasonality is still a major challenge, especially in the more rural peripheral areas of the country. Iceland’s high season for tourism occurs during its brief summer (June to August), but in recent years more people visit the country on shorter winter trips, creating new management challenges. This research is based on an on-site questionnaire survey conducted in seven popular nature destinations in Iceland which compares the experience of summer and winter visitors. The results show that winter visitors are more satisfied with the natural environment while their satisfaction with facilities and service is in many cases lower. The areas are generally perceived as being more beautiful and quieter in winter than in summer. However, most destinations are considered less accessible and less safe in the winter. Tourists are much less likely to experience physical crowding during winter, although winter visitors are more sensitive to crowds, most likely because of expectations of fewer tourists. Finally, this research shows that tourists are less likely to encounter negative effects of tourism on the environment in the winter, (e.g., erosion or damage to rocks and vegetation), than in summer. The results highlight the importance of understanding visitor perceptions in a seasonal and temporal context.

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Series: Sustainability
ISSN: 2071-1050
ISSN-E: 2071-1050
ISSN-L: 2071-1050
Volume: 11
Issue: 11
Article number: UNSP 3059
DOI: 10.3390/su11113059
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 520 Other social sciences
Funding: This research was funded by the Icelandic Tourist Board.
Copyright information: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (